“Instructional software (IS) is a general term for computer programs used specifically to deliver instruction or assist with the delivery of instruction on a topic” (Roblyer, p.75). There was a time in history when it was thought that computers would one day replace an actual human teacher. However, that could not have be the most off-based thought possible. There will always be a need for a human teacher because one, human teachers provide more to students than just instruction and two, because teachers provide much needed one-on-one assistance that computers cannot provide. Instructional software helps teacher “transform the teaching process.” They are used “solely to support instruction and/or learning.” There are five types of instructional software: drill and practice, tutorial, simulations, instructional games, and problem solving.
The first type of (IS) is drill and practice. Drill and practice software does just as it says. Students are given problems/questions to practice and then are provided feedback on their answer choices. This type of software is great to use when a teacher is wanting the students to rehearse steps to how to work something, learn terminology, or understand main ideas. Some of the benefits of incorporating drill and practice software are students receive immediate feedback. For some students, it increases their motivation to work because they feel like it is a game and not actual work. Plus, they are the only ones that will know if they receive a wrong answer. One more benefit of drill and practice is that it will save teachers on time. Students are able to practice on their own and not require a teacher to be looking over their shoulders 24/7. This allows teachers to be able to use class time to provide individual instruction to students that need a little extra one-on-one. There are many forms of drill and practice such as: flash card activities, chart fill-in activities, branching drill, and extensive feedback activities.
Examples of Drill and Practice:
The second type of (IS) is tutorials. “Tutorial software is an entire instructional sequence on a topic, similar to a teacher’s classroom instruction” (p.83). This type of instructional software does not require teacher input, it should teach on a whole topic along with providing practice and feedback for the student. Tutorials have some of the same benefits as drill and practice however, drill and practice is more supplemental whereas tutorials could be stand alone. Tutorials often fall into two categories. One, “linear tutorial gives the same instructional sequence of explanation, practice, and feedback to all learners regardless of differences in their performance” (pg. 83). The other category is branching tutorial which “directs learners along alternate paths depending on how they respond to questions and whether they show mastery of certain parts of the material” (pg. 84). Tutorials can be assigned as after school learning, to free up in class time activities that tie the lesson together. They are also great to assign to students that may need extra learning time. One more benefit of tutorials is that a teacher can incorporate advance lessons to students that grasp class instruction faster than the rest.
Example of Tutorial:
Simulation is the third type of IS. “Simulation is a computerized model of a real or imagined system that is designed to teach how the system work” (pg.87). There are two types of simulations: “those that teach about something and those that teach how to do something” (pg. 87). The ones that teach about something can be broken down into two categories. The first is physical simulations. This type of simulation has the students “to manipulate things or processes represented on the screen” (pg. 87). Second category is iterative simulations, which are simulations that “speed up or slow down processes that usually happen either so slowly or so quickly that students cannot see the events unfold” (pg. 87). There are also two categories for simulations that teach how to do something. One category is procedural, where students are taught a series of steps to complete a process. The second category is situational simulations. These simulations “give students hypothetical situations and ask them to react” (pg. 88). Teachers using simulations in their curriculum have the benefit of getting students involved more, and making experiments for safe. For me, the best benefit of all is the ability to show students how everything we have been teaching about comes together in the work place.
Examples of Simulations:
A fourth type of IS would be instructional games. “Instructional games are software products that add game-like rules and/or competition to learning activities” (pg. 92). Many teachers use instructional games as a reward or as a way to hold students’ attention on a topic. Kids love to play video games and therefore, are much more inclined to participate in a lesson if one is involved. I love games as a teacher because it gives the teacher a moment to stop, breathe, and observe the students in action. This is usually where some of the weaker students shine just because they know how to navigate games better than adult.
Examples of Instructional Games:
Problem-solving software is the fifth type of IS. “Problem-solving software functions may focus on fostering component skills in or approaches to general problem solving ability, or provide opportunities to practice solving various kinds of content-area problems” (pg. 97). Problem-solving is an ability that many students do not grasp fairly easily and is sometimes not easy to teach. Using problem-solving software in class would be a great way for students to receive practice and allow the teacher to become a facilitator. This type of software could also help reinforce how students would take the subject matter and use it in “real” life scenarios.
Examples of Problem-Solving Software:
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.