Software sussed

You've got the multimedia computer. Now comes the hard part - choosing educational CD-Roms for your children. By Jacquie Disney

Are you one of that growing number of parents who has taken the plunge and spent in the region of pounds 1,500 on a multimedia computer? Was one of the main reasons for buying to enhance your children's educational experience and prospects? If so, you'll soon be discovering, like many parents before you, that the bigger challenge starts here with the hunt for quality educational software.

I manage the independent software review process set up by Parents Information Network (PIN), a national independent organisation helping parents to support their children's learning with computers. Six months ago, PIN conducted a national survey of its membership and an astonishing 90 per cent specifically asked for independent software recommendations.

Perhaps such unanimity is not surprising. If you've tried scanning the shelves of software in your high street shop or superstore, you will know that there is a need for some means of making sense of the lavishly designed boxes which promise all under the labels of "educational" and "national curriculum". There's no quality standard in the use of these terms and, in the main, you can't try before you buy.

One obvious answer is to turn to the equal number of shelves groaning under the weight of computer magazines, some featuring reviews and comment on "kids' software" or "edutainment" titles. While these provide a much- needed service, the professional reviewer is not necessarily best placed to make the level of critical judgement required by many parents. Do they take long enough to make real qualitative judgements on content and depth? Has the reviewer seen the software actually being used by children? Do they have any educational expertise?

On the educational front, there are listings of much of the CD-Rom software available to schools. This could seem the answer to many parents' prayers - until they are confronted by the sheer volume of titles. But if you want to know which ones to choose, and which are most appropriate for home use, a comprehensive list of reviews still leaves you with a lot of questions.

PIN has established a review process that aims to identify the best educational software for use at home. This leads to independent recommendations and the award of PIN's Quality Symbol. I direct this process and have spent many years working with teachers and parents in selecting and using software.

Unlike any other review process, PIN tests software over a period of three months.

The initial selection is made by panels of practising teachers who judge the software for educational credibility, having used the titles themselves and tried them with children. The best are then passed on to families who use the software over two months.

The findings of the PIN review process are subject to no form of commercial compromise or advantage. Only a few packages make the grade each time; these are selected because they have the depth of content, quality of design, educational value and enjoyment factor to make them more than a short-lived wondern

For a free newsletter, send a 39p sae to PIN, PO Box 1577, London W7 3ZT. The Parents' Information Network will be at Bett 97, the educational technology trade show, from 8 to 11 January at Olympia, west London. Parents can visit PIN at Stand 645 on Saturday 11 January. Bett ticket hotline: 0181-984 7711.

More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Commercial Litigation NQ+

    Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...


    Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

    Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

    Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

    £90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

    Day In a Page

    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?