Do you really have to purchase software for your classroom?

Sunday, December 12th, 2010 | technology

Some teachers claim that, when they move technology into their classrooms, they don’t have to purchase any educational software products – they create their own teaching and learning material.  If you are one of those teachers – good for you!

If you’re not yet in their league, don’t despair.  Packaged educational software can be a valuable stepping stone while you’re familiarizing yourself with the use of technology in the classroom.

Excellent software packages are available commercially.  Some software may be bundled with the device you purchase – this is particularly so in the case of interactive whiteboards.  In other cases good software programs are available from software vendors to suit all your classroom needs.

A common mistake of teachers new to technology is to purchase too many software packages.  Some of these turn out to be less useful that they seem at first.  It is sad when you spend all your available funds on software that is of little value to you, and then find you can’t afford appropriate programs.  Avoid this mistake by starting off slowly – perhaps with only one simple program – and as you progress and come to grips with classroom technology you’ll be in a better position to select software that will really be useful to you.

Some software may be available to you at no cost:

Examine the software that is bundled with the device you purchase.  These products are often of limited value, but may suffice to start you off.

The internet is a rich source of free software.  Thousands of teachers have developed resources, including complete lessons, and have made them available on the web.  These resources are mostly tried and tested.

Your school may hold a site license for educational software programs.  Enquire from the vendor of the product whether the license entitles you to use the software in your classroom without additional cost.

Software suppliers may make software products available to you on a trial basis for a month or so – you can try before you buy.  This is an ideal way to avoid purchasing products that you won’t use in future.

Software does not have to cost you an arm and a leg if you choose it judiciously.  Start small, use what you have as stepping stones, and strive to reach the point where you can develop your own no-cost learning material.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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5 Comments to Do you really have to purchase software for your classroom?

[...] Do you really have to purchase software for your classroom … [...]

Mark C
Sunday, 12 December, 2010

Every educator must analyse what it is that they need and look at how they are going to use the software. Why would you want to buy software when you can get usable free alternatives. However, you need two things: (1) time and (2) willingness to learn. The problem is that people want the easy way out to become software pirates. They want proprietary software free and that cannot happen.

If there is no money the alternative is to look where you can sponge off some internet time to search and download free software available on any platform. It may not be exactly what you want but then you can find a way to use it. In any case, which software package has everything that you want?

For science teachers look at
(1) Applets e.g. http://www.walter-fendt.de/ph14e/ or PhET http://phet.colorado.edu/
(2) Yenka, who gives away free teacher’s licences under certain terms and conditions: http://www.yenka.com/

There are many examples, but you have to mix and match for effective learning to take place. There is also lots of experimentation that needs to be done to find out what works and what doesn’t. This is where the expertise of the teacher comes in. I believe is Free Software and their principles.

I use Free software all the the time and only use proprietary where I have to (no alternative).

[...] Do you really have to purchase software for your classroom … [...]

[...] Do you really have to purchase software for your classroom … [...]

Charles
Tuesday, 14 December, 2010

An important consideration when purchasing software is the annual upgrdade or license fee levied by some software vendors.

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