Educational Software Without Bunnies Or Hedgehogs

Learning is a fantastic process that is carried out by all of us every day, whether you are 5 or 105. Then why when it comes to educational software, do the majority of programs have these silly pre school graphics? Granted they can be useful for very early learners but those looking to improve their number skills or sentence building can be any age and in my experience of teaching, are put off by this sort of software that is mostly available from the big companies. What is more they tend to go from one extreme to the other, making often too simple software pitched to 4 and 5 year olds and then producing programs that have so many menus and tool bars that the user is left completely bewildered.

Let us also not forget that not all learners are children. Many teenagers and adults, often through no fault of their own, need to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. As an example, my own son has ADHD, which many consider a disability but in fact, with the right help, it can be turned into a huge benefit. Attention Deficit Disorder sufferers often have many extraordinary skills but often find conventional studying extremely hard, as they cannot focus for too long. Many are able to multi task at an extremely fast rate, so it is just that their brains are working in a different way to others and it is certainly not because they are deficient in some way. Other special needs people are very versatile in other areas too. For example dyslexics, who can design fantastic architecture or engineering feats but find it harder to understand the written word. We don't all have fit in the same round hole.

So as educational software developers, we have a duty to understand our users and to try and help them in whatever way we can. Often by just listening, a program can be tweaked a little to open it up to new users, who before had no hope of using it. I hope this will inspire educational software authors to look at their products and bear this in mind when developing new ones.

No comments: