Unit 5: Using Instructional Software in Teaching and Learning

Drill and Practice Activities

  • The well-designed drill and practice programs should have the following elements:
  1. Control over the presentation rate.
  2. Appropriate feedback for correct answers.
  3. Better reinforcement for correct answers.
  • Most basic drill and practice functions are often described as a flashcard activity.

Using Drill and Practice  Software in Teaching

  • Immediate feedback
  • Motivation
  • Saving teacher time
  • In place of or supplemental to worksheets and homework
  • In preparation for tests

Tutorial Activities

  • Tutorials are used to deliver entire instructional sequences similar to a teacher’s classroom instruction.
  • Courseware focuses on the acquisition stage of learning.
  • Tutorials are often categorized as linear and branching (Alessi and Trollip,1991).
  • A linear tutorial gives its user the same instructional sequence of explanation, practice, and feedback regardless of differences in user performance (IETIT p.89).
  • Some tutorials have computer-management capabilities. Data collection and management features make tutorials more useful to teachers.

The Elements of Well-Designed Tutorial Programs

Tutorials are geared toward learners who can read fairly well and usually older students or adults.

  1. Extensive interactivity.
  2. Thorough user control.
  3. Appropriate and comprehensive teaching sequences.
  4. Adequate answer-judging and feedback capabilities.
  • Tutorials (teacher-directed methods) deliver traditional instruction in skills rather than letting students create learning experiences through generative exercises and project development.
  • Tutorials in Teaching:
  1. Self-paced reviews of instruction
  2. An alternative learning strategy.
  3. Permit instruction when teachers are unavailable.

Simulation Activities

  • A simulation is a computerized model of a real or imagined system designed to teach how a certain system or a similar one works(IETIT p93).
  • Simulations differ from tutorial and drill and practice activities because they provide less structured and more learner-directed activities.

  Types of Simulations

  • Physical simulations:

Users manipulate objects

  • Process simulations:

Usually use for biological simulations

  • Procedural simulations:

Used for medical or mechanical   problems and flight simulators

  • Situational simulations:

Hypothetical problem situations &   reactions to them

Using Simulations in   Teaching

  • Compress time.
  • Slow down processes.
  • Get students involved.
  • Make experimentation safe.
  • Make the impossible possible.
  • Save money and other resources.
  • Repeat with variations.
  • Make situations controllable.
  • Supplement or replace lab experiments.

Instructional Games

  • Games are usually listed as a separate form of courseware because their instructional connotation to students is slightly different. (IETIT p99).
  • The function of a games is to hold student’s attention or supply a reward for accomplishing other activities.

Types of Games








8.TV quizzes.


Instructional Game Issues

  • Many educators believe that games, especially computer-based ones, are overused and misused (McGinley, 1990).
  • Others believe that games convince students that they are “escaping from learning,” and games draw attention away from learning.

Problems with Games & their use in Teaching

  • Other teachers worry that students can become confused about which part of the activity is the game and which part is the skill they are learning.
  • Difficulty transferring skills to non-game situations.
  • Teaching with Games:
  • Replacement for worksheets and exercises
  • Foster cooperation and group work
  • As a reward

Problem-Solving Courseware

  • Synonyms term for problem-solving include: critical thinking, thinking skills, higher level thinking, higher-order cognitive outcomes, reasoning, use of logic, decision making, and inference skills.
  • Mayes (1992)- “ teaching-sequenced planning to solve problems to high ability learners could interfere with their own effective processing”(p101).

  Six Steps to help Teachers   Integrate P-S Courseware

  1. Identify problem-solving skills or general capabilities to build or foster:
  • Solving one or more kinds of content – area problems.
  • Using a scientific approach to problem solving.
  • Components of problem solving.
  1. Decide on a series of activities that would help teach the desired skills.
  1. Examine courseware to locate materials that closely match the desired abilities.
  2. Determine where the courseware fits into the teaching sequence.
  3. Demonstrate the courseware and the steps to follow in solving problems.
  4. Build in transfer activities and make students aware of the skills they are using in the courseware (IETIT p103).

Seven Steps for Integrating Problem-Solving Courseware

  1. Allow students sufficient time to explore and interact with the software; provide some structure in the form of directions, goals, a work schedule, and organized times for sharing and discussing results.
  2. Vary the amount of direction and assistance depending on the needs of each student.
  3. Promote a “ reflective learning environment;” let students talk about their work and the methods they use.
  4. Stress thinking processes rather than correct answers.
  5. Point out the relationship of courseware skills and activities to other kinds of problem solving.
  6. Let students work together in pairs or small group.
  7. If assessments are done, use alternatives to traditional paper-and pencil tests (IETIT p105).

Required Instructional Design and Pedagogy

  • Appropriate teaching strategy, based on best-known methods
  • Presentations contains nothing that misleads or confuses students
  • Comments that are not abusive or insulting
  • Readability at an appropriate level for students
  • Graphics that are not distracting to learners.

Required for Content

  • No grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors on the screen
  • Accurate, up-to date content
  • No racial or gender stereotypes
  • Social characteristics exhibiting sensitivity to moral values

Required for User Flexibility

  • User has some control of movement within the program
  • User can Can turn off sound, if desired

Required Technical Soundness

  • Program loads consistently, without error
  • Program does not break, no matter what the student enters
  • Program does what the screen says it should do

Optional Student Use Criteria

  • Student ease of use
  • Required keys
  • Input devices
  • Directions
  • Supportive materials
  • Optional assistance
  • Optional directions
  • Creativity
  • Summary feedback

Optional Teacher Use Criteria

  • Teacher’s ease of use
  • Management
  • Teacher manuals
  • Ease of integration
  • Teacher assistance
  • Adaptability

Optional Presentation Criteria

  • Graphics features
  • Screen layout
  • Speech capabilities
  • Required peripherals

Optional Technical Criteria 

  • Response Judging
  • Timing
  • Portability
  • Compatibility
  • Technical Manuals
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