The use of educational software was rising long before the pandemic. However, the pandemic has resulted in the accelerated adoption of educational software for schools across different grades.
The advancements of educational software in the last two years have transformed the educational sector. Educators and parents have not only realized the benefits of these valuable tools but have also been promoting increased use of educational technology and online learning resources. Integration of technology with classroom learning has become one of the most effective ways to promote student learning. Let’s take a further look into why online educational software has been so game-changing in the learning process.
What is Educational Software?
‘Educational software’ refers to any software application with the objective of teaching and enhancing the educational experience. In the early years of educational software, applications were provided by means of the floppy disk and then later CD-ROM. As internet access and speeds increased, the use of these earlier media formats has given way to online educational software. In recent years, the advent and proliferation of mobile computing has seen the rise of educational apps. Educational software covers a wide range of subjects and grade levels, however educational software for elementary students is the most common. The purpose of educational software for schools is to increase instructional efficiency while providing a more engaging way for students to learn. Educational software has become a staple in schools throughout North America, as well as much of the developed world.
Types of Educational Software
There are several different types of educational software, however, when it comes to educational software for schools, drill and practice for early reading and math skills is the most common. These programs utilize a variety of multi-sensory activities to introduce and reinforce basic skills at the primary level. Rote skills such as phonics are highly conducive to being taught and reinforced using interactive multimedia.
Gamification is a popular component of many educational software programs that is employed to varying degrees depending on the publisher. These applications combine interactive games i.e., video games with educational content. This can be a highly engaging and motivational format. The drawback of gamification is that the gaming aspect can often overshadow the educational subject matter. This type of educational software for schools is often used by teachers as a reward once other classroom work has been completed. It provides practice for students but is not necessarily designed to increase efficiency of instructional time.
The best educational software for elementary students maintains focus on gradually building foundational skills in an efficient yet engaging format that keeps students learning and on task. This is the category that Essential Skills programs fall into. They have been designed by teachers to increase efficiency of instructional time by sequentially building skills while keeping students learning as opposed to playing games.
Another type of online educational software that has become increasingly popular in recent years is the game-based learning platform. These applications utilize more of a quiz format that allows educators to input their own content and have students either collaboratively or independently answer questions. The software will then score, and rank respondents based on the number of correct answers given.
These applications usually include a leaderboard-type system that will rank users. Some game-based learning platforms even include school-level leaderboards where students work together to increase the rank of their school. The ability for users to earn points, and or badges is also often incorporated to further increase motivation.
This type of educational software has become popular as it allows teachers to quiz students on content relevant to what is being taught in the classroom and can be a highly motivational format for many students. The downside to game-based learning is that it can lead to issues around self-confidence for students that consistently perform at lower levels.
Data Collection and Management via Educational Software
One of the main advantages of online educational software is the ability to automatically track and record student progress. Most educational software for elementary students offers some degree of computerized tracking. This is arguably the greatest benefit of educational software. This valuable data can help identify areas of student difficulty and can even be used to prepare student report cards. It can be an incredible time-saver for teachers who are already stretched for time.
In addition to tracking student results and presenting this data to teachers, some educational software for schools can use this data to individualize learning for each student. Essential Skills programs for example include pretests that will customize the content based on each individual students’ results. In addition, educational software provides instant feedback to students, thereby keeping them engaged and motivated to learn more.
Benefits of Educational Software
Teaching young learners is a complex process but with the advancements in educational technology, this process is becoming easier for teachers and more engaging for students who are then motivated to keep learning. Here are some of the main benefits of educational software:
- Content Organization and Unlimited Access - With online educational software, the material is stored in the cloud making it easy to organize lessons and access them whenever and wherever. Furthermore, the material can be accessed from different devices making it convenient for students. This has proven especially beneficial for distance and remote learning.
- Better Control of the Experience - This applies to both teachers and students – teachers can prepare personal programs for individual students depending on their level and students have the option to learn at their own pace.
- Communication and Feedback - Online learning resources allow for collaboration between students within a class making it easy for students across geographies to work together and further breaking down the barriers of a classroom.
- Increased Student Engagement - Current attention spans are at a record low and therefore the requirements of keeping kids engaged in a classroom is as high as ever. A major benefit of using educational software for elementary students as a learning tool is improved engagement. Online educational software encourages interactivity with multimedia content, making it more fun than just reading a book. This is especially important for elementary school students, who are much harder to engage than adults. Multimedia content has proven to stimulate the curiosity of young learners.
- Reduced Workload for Teachers - With automated features, educational software for schools makes it easier to manage time-consuming activities like grading assignments and checking homework. Online learning resources can also help to unburden teachers from the repetitive teach, review and test cycle for basic skills. This frees up time for other activities such as working one-on-one with struggling students or creating new lesson plans.
- Personalized Learning Experience - Not every student learns in the same way, or at the same pace. Students have different learning styles and various skill levels making it challenging for teachers to plan classroom sessions. Educational software for elementary students addresses this challenge by providing every student with the individualized learning experience and attention they need. By incorporating auditory, visual, and tactile typing activities, interactive online learning programs help ensure that every student has an opportunity for success.
- Tracking Student Progress - One of the main features of educational software for schools is the ability to automatically track student progress, their strengths, and weaknesses. This helps identify learning gaps and assist teachers in developing targeted intervention strategies for their students.
The global education infrastructure has been through a roller-coaster ride through the pandemic, but the accelerated adoption of online educational software has helped take the sector forward. Students and teachers are increasingly utilizing software like Essentials Skills to enhance the learning experience. Essential Skills is a leading provider of educational software for elementary students, older remedial students, special education, English learning and response to intervention.
Learn more about how our vast library of educational software for schools can enhance the learning environment in your classroom.