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Sep

16

Back to School Software Roundup!

 Home & Education

Kids across the U.S. are going back to school. This seems like the right time to look at some educational software. Today, I reviewed a math trainer for elementary school students and some software to help middle and high school students practice their English. Also, a tool for students of all ages shows us the entire world in a new way.

Rewards Multiply

Rewards Multiply is a very simple program to help young learners practice their multiplication tables. It's well-designed to help kids learn. At first, it actually shows the answer, then prompts the child to type the answer that was just displayed. In later rounds, the student has to pick the answer from a list (shown above). In the last round, the answer must be typed, without any prompting. The “rewards” in the title are things a kid likes, such as a can of soda, a ribbon, or a quarter. The wizard character you see above flies around on the screen and congratulates the student for correct answers.

The interface for the game is designed for younger, less-experienced computer users. The buttons are large and clearly labeled. The program takes up the entire screen, with no window controls to make it easy for a new user. It also uses speech synthesis so that students having trouble reading can still learn their multiplication tables. You can also opt to play background music while working. One disconcerting thing—on our test PC, the bearded wizard speaks in a high-pitched feminine voice.

Higher English Workout

Higher English Workout lets more advanced students drill on English subjects, including grammar, spelling, punctuation, and comprehension. Like Rewards Multiply, it presents a series of questions to the user and says which answers were right and wrong. Because it's aimed at older students, it doesn't have the flashy animation and speech and music.

The program is a useful practice tool for students who have already studied the material, and can probably reduce nervousness during tests. I think it would be even better if the software explained the reason why a particular answer is right, instead of just saying “Right” or “Wrong” to the student's choice.

Maker BetterGrades currently offers 4 quiz programs through FindApp: English, Higher English, Mathematics, and Higher Mathematics.

EarthBrowser

EarthBrowser is different from the other programs I've written about. It isn't designed to teach any particular subject or any specific facts. EarthBrowser lets you play with the world. Just by clicking and dragging, you can see the positions of satellites, weather maps, radar images, road maps, webcam views of cities, fires … an enormous amount of information, updated in real time as you watch.

Want to see the other side of the world? Just drag the globe with the mouse. Photos of a city? Choose “Panoramio photos” and they're one click away. Track the course of a hurricane, or see the site of an earthquake—they're shown right on the display. Zoom in to show your own street. EarthBrowser is really fun to play with—it can even be used as a cool screen saver. The best part is, you can't help learning some geography, meteorology, and earth science just playing with it. Educational and fun: what more could you ask for?

So whether your back-to-schoolers are entering first grade, middle school, or high school you can help them learn faster and easier with the right software. And even if you're done with school, EarthBrowser is a fun way to learn more about the planet we live on. You can find much more learning software in these FindApp categories:

Misc Education Software

Kids Education

Math Software

Teaching and Training Tools

Science Software

 

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