Instructional software is used to deliver or assist in the delivery of a topic (Roblyer, 2016, p. 75). In my psychology class, I use a significant amount of tool software, but I do not use as much instructional software as I probably should. There are different types of instructional software and many advantages to using these tools.
Drill and Practice
Drill-and-practice software is exactly what is sounds like, software that allows students to practice skills or learning they have already obtained. I do not spend much class time on drill-and-practice activities, but I do believe they are valuable as a study tool for students of any age. Quizlet was the resource that first came to my mind as I was reading the drill-and-practice section. Quizlet allows students to create their own flashcards or use cards that have already been created and perform different activities to practice vocabulary terms and key concepts.
Tutorials are used to teach a concept. Tutorials are different from the other types of instructional software because tutorials should be able to stand alone. A good tutorial can teach a topic without any other supportive materials. A good tutorial that fits all the standards is difficult to find. I found a website entitle the Brain from Top to Bottom that fits all the standards but two. It does not provide opportunities to check for student understanding and give feedback, and it does not keep records or provide a way for teachers to keep a record of student progress.
Simulations are very beneficial in my psychology class. I do not have the funds, resources, nor the time to complete some of the activities that simulations make possible. I use a texting while driving simulation, dissection of a brain and an eye, and a simulation of lab mice on different types of drugs. My students always enjoy these activities, and I am always on the hunt for more simulations that can be used to help demonstrate psychology concepts.
The use of instructional games in my classroom is typically as a review activity. I had not really considered using games to help teach content and not just review or practice it. I found some great instructional games on BBC Science that could serve as introductions to different concepts or activities to supplement the content. I am very excited about this find! During the previous school year, I was introduced to Kahoot!. It is my students’ favorite game to review material. Students are able to compete against each other and use their own devices, which they love. If you have never used Kahoot! before, I strongly encourage you to give it a try.
Problem-solving software was the most difficult one for me to relate to psychology. I am sure there is some out there somewhere, but I had a tough time finding any. Math can be used in psychology, especially that of statistics, but I do not often have my students complete such activities in my class. I finally settled on some TED-Ed videos with different riddles and lessons to go along with them. The lessons center around using heuristics, which are problem-solving strategies we discuss in psychology and how riddles can benefit your brain. I believe these are activities that my students would enjoy and could open up discussions on psychology topics.
As I viewed all of these different forms of instructional software, I found a few relative advantages across the board. The largest advantage, in my opinion, is that each of these resources will increase student engagement. There are times when students need to have a basic understanding of a concept before we can move on to the more “interesting” or “exciting” information. Using some of these resources, could help students engage in order to get that basic foundation. Instructional software programs can also save precious class time and allow for activities that I would not have the resources to complete otherwise. Another important advantage is that this software allows for the individualization of student learning. It can be used to help students who may need more support with a particular concept, or it can be used to give high-achieving students something more to challenge them. I believe the advantages are enough to convince me to incorporate more instructional software into my curriculum.
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.