Instructional Software Relative Advantage

Only the lesson which is enjoyed can be learned well. – Juday HaNasi, Talmud.

Is there a relative advantage to using instructional software in the classroom? For any teacher who has explored the possibilities of technology supported lessons, the answer is undoubtedly yes. When used appropriately, instructional software enhances the effectiveness of teachers by emphasizing students’ responsibility for and control of their learning process. Through the five instructional software variations, students interact with their environment, participate in constructing meaning and become empowered in their own learning. (Jonassen, 1999)

One challenge that I face teaching EFL in Korea is that my students see me for only two to three hours a week. That means that for one hundred and sixty five to six hour a week, my students will most likely speak Korean. Motivating them to continue using English outside of class is difficult unless they are willing to truly claim their English education.  Handouts, written assignments, readings and other traditional teaching materials, when combined with instructional software, provide highly visible and engaging motivation.

Through drill and practice software, students are able to practice grammar usage or spelling, learn new words with flashcards or review words they already know. One site that I use at school and in the classroom is genkienglish.net. My daughter has learned to read through this engaging product. My students love the interactive, colorful and humorous animations and songs. Tutorials allow keen students to work outside of the language covered in the course, focusing on areas of interest. Or, students who are weak in certain areas or are behind the other students can brush up on skills. Simulations are exceptionally powerful as they provide virtually authentic situations where students can experiment with language freely without the pressure of accuracy. Problem solving software can be motivating as students build language skills through exploring challenging concepts that require finding the solution. Finally, and quite possibly the most effective in EFL learning is the use of instructional games. When used as review, when used for an appropriate length of time and when the purpose for playing the games are clearly stated and understood, relative advantage is high.

Here are two instructional software packages I have found quite useful in the CALL classroom:
1. http://www.genkienglish.net 
2. http://www.learnthat.org

References:

1. Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

2. Jonassen, D., Peck, K., & Wilson, B. (1999). Learning with technology: A constructivist perspective. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.