The latest technologies can also be used to drive effective ways of learning.
Over the years, society has undergone a transformation in which the use of new technologies extends throughout all areas, and as is evident, the field of teaching and pedagogy has also wanted take advantage of the possible benefits of these.
This change in teaching / learning dynamics is materialized in the creation of a series of educational software that provides support for both educators and students. Throughout this article we will describe their main characteristics and types, as well as their potential uses or functions and their disadvantages.
What is educational software?
Also known as instructional software, educational software is about teaching programs that use digital platforms to use them as support for both teachers and students in the teaching / learning processes. And although they may seem very novel, its beginnings date back to the 60-70s.
These programs are specifically designed to facilitate and enhance the acquisition of exclusively academic knowledge. That is, this must be its main purpose and it must be explicitly stated. This means that, although it can also be found in some work environments, these are not considered educational software as such.
However, although these resources are mainly used in school contexts, there are also programs in which learning can be done from home, thus enhancing and supporting the knowledge acquired in the classroom.
Thanks to these computer programs or applications, the student can reinforce their knowledge in different curricular subjects of all kinds, including from the most practical such as mathematics or languages, to those of a more theoretical nature such as history, biology or geography.
Thanks to the immense amount of possibilities that educational software can offer, information or knowledge can be presented in a great variety of forms; from information diagrams or sketches, to questionnaires or games. This great variability in the format facilitates the motivation and interest of the students.
What characteristics does it have?
For an educational software program to be considered as such, it must meet a series of characteristics. Among the main requirements are that it must be used specifically by educators and students. However, there are many other characteristics, among which are:
- Possibility of being used in any subject or field of education.
- It is an interactive tool.
- They have the ability to adapt to the needs of the students and their characteristics. Including age, school year or individual capabilities of these.
- They are easy to use. Both educators and students must be able to install, understand and run the program without any problem.
- Depending on the purpose of educational software, it may have a more directive nature or, on the contrary, more constructivist, in which the student creates their own conclusions or knowledge.
How many different types are there?
Taking into account the specific objective of educational software or the way in which the interaction between the educator and the student takes place, we can distinguish between several different types or categories of software. These categories are:
The first category refers to programs specially created to promote problem-solving skills. To do this, the student must follow a series of sequences or perform certain kinds of exercises that provide the necessary tools to solve an enigma.
Throughout this process, the student will have to elaborate hypotheses, conjectures or assumptions that will have to be verified in order to solve the enigma or conflict raised.
2. Exercise and practice
In educational exercise and practical software, the student is presented with a series of exercises or tasks in which, after completion, feedback is provided about how the person has performed the execution.
Through these exercises, which may take the form of tests or questionnaires, the student can put into practice the knowledge acquired previously.
These programs offer the possibility of recreating environments or situations in which the student can interact and that are not possible to recreate in the academic context or to do so would be too expensive.
In tutorial-type software, the objective is the transmission of knowledge between the program, which acts as an educator, and the student. Using a series of guidelines similar to those of a teacher in class, the program offers a series of explanations, practical exercises and feedback on the student’s performance.
In instructional games, the goal is to increase student motivation through the implementation of rewarding tests. With them you can keep your attention and increase your interest in the subject.
What functions or uses can it have?
Due to the great variability and the large number of possibilities offered by educational software, a large number of uses or potential functions are attributed to them:
These programs have the capacity to be in constant evolution, which represents an innovation in the teaching / learning processes.
Computer software is the teaching practice that can hold the greatest amount of information and transmit to the student.
Thanks to the variety of possibilities offered by these programs, students feel more motivated and attracted to discover them.
The platform has the ability to explain any type of content, either explicitly or through the development of games or activities.
Educational software is an ideal platform to enhance the expressiveness of students, who can contribute their own point of view of knowledge and share it with the rest.
Thanks to less directive programs, the student can develop his own research procedures. Especially in those that offer simulation activities.
Thanks to educational software, learning is understood or interpreted as a fun and playful activity that reinforces students’ desire to learn.