Educational Software – Concept, functions, types and examples

We explain what educational software is, its functions, advantages and what types exist. Also, examples of various kinds.

educational software
Educational software allows active student participation.

What is educational software?

Educational software encompasses those educational programs and applications, created with the explicit purpose of contributing to teaching and learning. In this definition, there is room for traditional Computer Aided Teaching (EAC) programs, to encyclopedias and programs that take advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to imitate the tutoring work of teachers in an educational institution.

This definition is always relative and problematic, since other programs typical of the business and professional world are usually excluded from it, such as databases and word processors, which nevertheless assist the teaching and student exercise. However, the latter are considered not to have been programmed for the explicit purpose of teaching and learning.

In general, to consider a piece of software as educational software, it must meet the following minimum considerations:

  • Obviously, use the computer or other electronic devices similar for the interface between program and user.
  • They were designed with a didactic purpose.
  • They are interactive, that is, they allow student participation and promote the exchange of information between human and system.
  • They individualize the teaching task, so that the pace of work and the dimensions of learning are adapted to each user.
  • They are relatively easy to use, since they do not usually require more than minimal computer utilitarian knowledge.

Educational software features

Normally, educational software comprehensively fulfills different functions, which we can break down for study into:

  • Report (informational function), that is, to provide the user with new and detailed information regarding a specific topic, using various formal resources for this: text, audio, video, and so on. Through this information, a structured and organized vision of reality is transmitted to the user.
  • Instruct (instructive function), that is, guiding learning explicitly or implicitly, according to a predetermined teaching script or program. This is done with the objective of meeting specific educational goals, such as mastering concepts, managing references, and so on.
  • Motivate (motivating function), that is, to capture and / or hold the attention of the students, in order to speed up and stimulate the learning process, making it more attractive and modern. This is perhaps one of the strengths of educational software.
  • Evaluate (evaluating function), that is, to give the student the opportunity to test their acquired knowledge, through tests, exercises and other similar dynamics, then giving them the correct answers so that they can understand their mistakes.
  • Innovate (innovative function), that is, to give the opportunity to new trends and technologies to integrate into the educational dynamics.

Importance of educational software

As the virtual and computer dynamics take on more and more spaces in our lives, offering us new job, recreational and communication opportunities, education cannot be left behind in taking advantage of the capabilities of this technology.

Educational software is a key piece in the design of new forms of distance education, and even has the potential to be incorporated into the classroom, in the not too distant future in which this space is highly computerized.

Educational software may for the moment be a complement to the traditional training process of students, but it is also a bet for the future that cannot be underestimated, given the direction that the hypertechnological world of the 21st century is taking.

Advantages of educational software

educational software advantages
Educational software is ideal for adults because it adapts to the student’s schedules.

Some of the obvious advantages of educational software have to do with:

  • They allow learning at great distances, both group and individual.
  • They take advantage of new technologies and devices, which are integrated into the youth imaginary of today’s world.
  • They facilitate control and evaluation of students, as well as feedback between student and teacher.
  • They facilitate autonomous learning, that is, they adapt to the schedule and disposition of the student, something ideal for adult education.
  • They make learning more attractive, eye-catching and modern.

Types of educational software

Broadly speaking, educational software is classified into two categories, depending on the degree of feedback they offer the user regarding their own learning (that is, their evaluation):

  • Management programs, also called tutorials, that monitor student activity at all times, and continually examine and evaluate it. The computer demands specific and concrete answers from the student, which can give a very narrow range of possible valid answers, according to a more traditional educational model.
  • Non-directive programsRather, thought of as an instrument or workspace (like a laboratory) available to the student, in which they will find what they need to learn, with a certain margin of freedom of action allowed. The computer does not act as a judge, as in the previous case, but rather records the information entered by the user and shows him the consequences of his decisions, in such a way that the notion of the error is not handled as much as that of the different consequences. to the desired. They tend to provide a more autonomous learning model.
  • Databases and simulators, which contain a large amount of information and allow the user to navigate it according to certain criteria, thus being able to complete derived activities, such as riddles, mathematical problems, scientific hypotheses, and so on. They can be hierarchical, relational or documentary databases, and simulation environments of different nature, which offer a safe environment to solve certain problems.

Examples of educational software

educational software examples
Educational software applications take advantage of multimedia resources.

Some examples of educational software are:

  • Coursera. A web portal designed to offer its visitors courses on different topics of knowledge, through text and multimedia material. Many of its courses come from prestigious universities around the world.
  • Quizlet. An application that works based on flashcards, and that helps students prepare for their exams.
  • Duolingo. A famous language teaching application, which offers the student a dynamic step-by-step of language learning, making the most of the technology of their Smartphone to hear, write and repeat.