Software Review

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2001 - 2002 Edition

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

The Review Process

NWRLRC Description

List of Reviewers

List of Reviewed Software

The Review Process

History:  

In the past, instructors, directors, and volunteers have depended on the Software Buyers' Guide by the Northwest Regional Literacy Resource Center (NRWLRC) for providing useful information when purchasing computer software for the classroom and lab. The Software Buyers' Guide includes information on software costs, publishers, computer requirements, ratings, and summaries of the software itself.  

Goal:

The need for advice on what educational software is currently available is of utmost importance. There are many new websites that directors, instructors, students, and volunteers should know about. Changes to curriculum, such as the new GED exam this year, need to be tracked. We endeavor to bring all this information to you in the Software Buyers' Guide 2002.  

Procedure:

As in previous editions, instructors from Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming have participated in the 2002 evaluation of new software. In addition to these reviewers, we also included computer technicians who have personal experience as GED or ESOL students. All of the participating states above had at least one representative reviewing software. The reviewers analyzed ABE, GED, ESOL, Computer Literacy, and Instructor Development software programs and internet sites.

The coordinator sent out a survey to each reviewer asking them what subjects they would like to review. Each reviewer was also asked to indicate the seven most important criteria that make a piece of software beneficial to educators. The survey is below:

1.  What target software group(s) would you like to review:

        Reading

        Writing

        Math

        Social Studies

        Science

        ESOL

        Computer Literacy

        Life Skills

        Family Literacy

2.  What software are you currently working with? Would you like to write a review on any of these products?  

3.  What software products have you seen or heard about that you would like to review?

4.  What internet sites are you using? Would you like to write a review on any of these sites?

5.  What type of computer(s) do you use in your classroom or lab? Please specify Macintosh or PC.  

6.  What seven criteria do you find most important in evaluating software for purchase?  

The seven most important criteria chosen by our reviewers were as follows:

1.     user friendly

2.     interesting interface

3.     ease of installing software

4.     affordability

5.     subject content

6.     appropriate for target age group

7.     sound  

The reviewer evaluations were based on these seven criteria and each product was given a rating from 0 to 4 with increments of .25. The rating numbers 0 through 4 correspond to the following: 0 = not applicable, 1 = not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good, and 4 = excellent.  

Summary:

The world of technology is continuing to grow at an exponential rate and educators must be willing to keep pace. Researchers indicate that students learn faster and retain knowledge longer if they use computers to learn. Students are demanding more software and Internet products. As educators we must embrace the new technology and determine what is most beneficial for our students while at the same time determine what is most cost effective for our programs. We strongly believe that the Software Buyers' Guide will be an invaluable resource tool for you as educators in making these important decisions.

Scale used for software

ABE Literacy             0-1.0

Beginning ABE          2-3.9

Low Intermediate      4-5.9

High Intermediate     6-8.9

Low Adult Ed.           9-10.9

High Adult Ed.          11-12