I have the wonderful opportunity (and responsibility) to research and select some software for our elementary school computer labs. I have a moderate budget, but it is enough to purchase 3-5 new titles depending on costs. The committee will meet throughout this year and hopefully make its decision by March. I am very interested in the feedback of others, both within the district and elsewhere.
We currently have some software in the labs that are still being used. This is an opportunity to fill in some gaps. I also want to go on record as stating that I recognize that there are many websites, free or otherwise, that can meet some of our needs. However, as we collect websites for specific skills and concepts, we are learning that there are often drawbacks to many of them, whether it is the fact that they are not part of a cohesive program that can track progress and individualize instruction or that they have many distracting elements on the screen.
I also feel strongly that the core of our software should be constructivist in nature, giving students the opportunity to create, analyze, and communicate. Still, I believe there is value in software the focuses on specific skills (like math operations, for example) if it can allow for regular formative assessments that inform and direct learning for each student.
I am interested in your thoughts about the following questions:
1. What are the most important concepts that need to be covered by this software?
2. What specific titles have you seen or used that we should be looking at?
3. What titles do you recommend specifically for our kindergarteners who often don't have appropriate software in the lab available to them?
4. Any other thoughts you have about software in elementary computer labs would be appreciated.
Thanks for your feedback.