Education Reviews: Digital resources

Evaluations supplied by Schoolzone, an independent body that asks teachers to rate digital learning titles

Evaluations supplied by Schoolzone, an independent body that asks teachers to rate digital learning titles



Gateway Assessment

Heinemann Secondary

Science

KS4

Standard Evaluation

OCR Gateway Science Assessment Online helps teachers prepare students for the OCR Science GCSE and supports formative science assessment in Years 10 and 11. The diagnostic and summative information is useful to the learning process and contributes to the overall assessment, but not all of the learning areas are covered. The questions provide comprehensive coverage of the item as a whole, while reducing overlap. The online interactive questions are attractive and engaging, but this could mean some students may perform better in these shorter assessments than in classic paper-based unit assessments. The software was evaluated over two months by Year 10 science students who, although not following the OCR course, found the resources valuable as a practice and revision aid.

SuperClubsPLUS

Intuitive Media

Cross Curricular

KS3

Mobile Device Evaluation

SuperClubsPLUS is a social networking website aimed mainly at primary school children. The website lets children use their PCs creatively, allowing them to develop their own profiles in the site and contribute to their school home page. Teachers may set up forums within the class that the pupils can belong to. Students with a smart phone or PDA are able to check their emails and contribute to the forums, as well as create and join web rings, without being stuck behind a desk. Any school would find this website useful to encourage learning, collaboration and creativity. Pupils became enthusiastic and motivated while developing social skills via email and contributing to forums. A mediator is always online to ensure that language and behaviour is appropriate and rules are followed.

Life. Live it. First Aid Education Kit

The British Red Cross

PHSE, Science

KS3, KS4

Standard Evaluation

This kit is a useful teaching aid that will engage students of all abilities, and cut down preparation time for teachers. Those teachers with little background experience or knowledge of first aid will, in no time at all, feel confident using this resource in the classroom. The kit includes presentations, lesson plans, worksheets, schemes of work, video and audio clips, as well as an interactive quiz. The package could be used to support PSHE lessons for Key Stage 3 and is also suitable for teaching health and social care, life processes and living things within science, and outcomes within the GCSE PE syllabus. The students were engaged by the presentations and labelling activities, while the package also brought first aid topics to the students' attention, highlighting dangers such as burns and choking.

Conquer Maths

Conquer Maths

Maths

KS3, KS4

Virtual Tour



Conquer Maths is an online support system consisting of 480 multimedia tutorials across levels one and two, along with a selection of activities that are marked online. The tutorials consist of a tutor explaining the concepts while being demonstrated in a multimedia presentation that can be paused and replayed. An activity sheet follows each tutorial, the answer to which can be entered online. Worksheets can be completed more than once and progress is tracked by means of online-generated reports that list each of the activities completed and highlight recommended areas for further study. The reports can be easily printed and kept for future reference. The software is designed as a tool for individual use at home in order to support the maths work they complete in school. Tutorials can be accessed in any order and completed as many times as necessary. The content is organised into each of the strands, arranged into levels one and two, and then broken down into topics.

Joseph and his coat of many colours

Magic Parrot Productions

Drama

KS2, KS3

Standard Evaluation



This refreshing children's version of the classic tale Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat is a musical play for Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils. From the catchy songs, to the balanced and readable script, this 55-minute production enthused children to present a high-quality piece of theatre. The package is available (via download) for up to three performances in a school or club setting. Pupils in Year 5 learnt and performed the show in one term and performances were well-received by both child and adult audiences. Such is the simplicity of the script that a mixed ability class can be allocated the roles and learn all the songs with ease.

Sums Maths

Sums Online

Maths

KS1, KS2

Virtual Tour Evaluation



The 80+ maths activities are grouped into familiar sections: shape and space, handling data, calculations, numbers and a section entitled "easier games". Each features activities of varied difficulty, some of which would require adult support. The pupils' response to the material was very positive: they all liked the colourful and fun approach to the work and could find a competitive element if they wanted to. Teachers found the software useful, especially the tracking tool that recorded each pupils' performance. This information could also be compiled to create an electronic mark book.

GCSE Geography for Avery Hill

Hodder Education

Geography

KS4

Standard Evaluation



The dynamic learning element of this resource facilitates independent learning and revision, also enabling teachers to build lessons specifically created to run on digital whiteboards. The range of resources include mapping and graphical activities, as well as links to a variety of relevant websites. The product is a valuable tool for students and teachers. There is a variety of support materials to help the teacher plan and adapt the product to get the best from it. Year 10 students found this product particularly useful as a mechanism to support revision and more independent learning.

Oliver

Softlink Europe Ltd

Cross Curricular

Pre-School, KS1, KS2, KS3, KS4

Standard Evaluation



Oliver is an automated library management system especially suitable to primary and secondary schools. Its search facility is easy for students and staff to use, and the system can be enriched through a range of "bolt-on" functions, some of which are paid for through additional subscriptions. For example, it can be linked to a database that adds cover images to the records. These images are loaded through a universal server, and are automatically updated. Other add-ons include: linking to a website with author interviews that are automatically added to catalogue records; and automatic downloads quiz information. Oliver was evaluated by library staff who used the software on a daily basis over three months, and students from Key Stages 3 and 5.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Oxford University Press

Cross Curricular

KS3,KS4, Post-16

Standard Evaluation



This product is a web-based subscription site providing an illustrated collection of 50,000 specially written biographies of the many people who helped shape the history of the British Isles. Children, students, teachers and lecturers can uncover details about people who have left their mark on history, be they good, bad or just bizarre. You can search for a person or group of people using a wide selection of characteristics and browse the reference and bibliographic materials associated with each article. You can also consider the index of contributors and find articles each wrote, as well as explore the many portraits and illustrations.

Neo 2

AlphaSmart

Cross Curricular

Pre-School, KS1, KS2, KS3

Peripheral Evaluation



The NEO 2 is a lightweight alternative to conventional laptops specifically designed for word processing. It is a "no frills" machine, so children are not distracted from the task. It is therefore a means to produce text for all curriculum subjects. The wireless receiver allows printing from anywhere in the classroom and a USB hook-up to a curriculum computer allows text to be uploaded into any open software. The machine has no moving parts, other than the keys, and is powered by 3AA batteries, which last about a year. It is lightweight and robust, which the children at our school have used in outdoor science experiments and school council meetings, as well as ordinary classroom-based lessons. We trialled five NEO 2s in a Year 4 class and a set of 30 in a Year 6 class. There were nothing but positive comments from both children and teachers.

Further Information

Schoolzone is an independent research organisation, and will not benefit from the sales of any of the products reviewed above.

If you are a teacher and are interested in reading the full evaluations of these resources, or would like to read evaluations of one of the other 800-plus products evaluated by Schoolzone-trained evaluators, please go to www.school zone.co.uk for more information.

By registering to join our online community, you may be invited to take part in educational research while being paid for your expertise.

Schoolzone's independent product evaluations are freely accessed by our 750,000 monthly visitors, providing excellent exposure to teachers who are looking for new resources.

If you would like Schoolzone to evaluate one of your resources, please contact Judith Spalding on 01242 262 906 or e-mail judith@schoolzone.co.uk

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