INSTRUCTIONAL SOFTWARE

Roblyer and Doering (2013) discuss six types of software in their book, Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching.  These six are:

  • Drill and Practice

  • Tutorial

  • Simulation

  • Instructional Games

  • Problem Solving

  • Integrated Learning Systems

I discuss the first five here.  I would like to take time to discuss Integrated Learning Systems (ILS).  ILSs are network or online systems of computer-based instruction that both track and report on student progress (Roblyer and Doering, 2013).  In my current position at the Pittsburgh Job Corps, I have been asked to evaluate several ILS programs to use with our students who are preparing to take the GED 2014 Test.  The GED Testing Service has several partners, listed here.  So far, I have been in contact with three sites and received information on the services they provide.

While the specific details of each ILS are different, with respect to their GED 2014 Test preparation, they have some common basic features.  ILS programs can easily be individualized for each students.  Generally, when a student begins an ILS course, they will take a diagnostic test that determines which specific areas require remediation.  As students progress, the programs will adapt the difficulty level up or down depending upon student performance.  Teachers will receive reports on student performance and can even be alert when a student needs intervention.

While it is generally recommend that ILS be a supplemental teaching method to an entire program in  order to be most effective (Roblyer and Doering, 2013), we would probably utilize them as the primary method.  Our students have already attended traditional schools and been unsuccessful.  However, this does not mean that lack the knowledge to pass the GED test.  Under the previous version of the GED Test, we had students who were capable of passing without any preparation, those who needed some preparation and students who required expansive tutoring.  With the change of the GED 2014 Test to a computer-only test, there will be fewer students in the first grouping and more in the other two.  These students’ ability will span a vast range.  Therefore, in order to keep them motivated, specialized training is needed to prevent from going too slow or too fast and move at just the right speed for each student.  Plus, by becoming more comfortable with learning on the computer, the students will be on familiar ground when they take the GED 2014 Test.

Does this mean that teachers become unnecessary?  Quite the contrary, I believe. Teachers will be more important.  Students will struggle with learning some concepts with the ILS just as they did in the traditional classroom.  Since the teacher will be aware more often and quicker of these deficiencies, they will have to be ready to interceded and help the students overcome obstacles.  They will have to be capable of switching gears and go from one lesson to another (possibly, in a completely different discipline) at a moments notice.

References

Baker, Mark. (1997). Integrated learning systems – An introduction. Retrieved from http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/mbaker/material/ils.html

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed., New International ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.