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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
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.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

    £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

    Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

    £26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen