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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
i100(More than you think)
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst

    £20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Executive - Software

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + 55,000 OTE + benifits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Software Sa...

    Argyll Scott International: 2x Service Desk Analyst

    £20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

    Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton; £400p/d

    £400 - £420 per day: Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton...

    Day In a Page

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?