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Which software has the most educational benefit?

October 11, 2006

Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned about lots of software which gets me really excited by its potential for classroom use: WordPress, Wikispaces, flickr, Flock, ComicLife, Picasaweb, Google Earth, iTunes, iMovie, iDVD, Garageband, LiveWriter,, technorati… you get the picture. There’re also a lot of tried and tested programmes that have an invaluable place in the teacher’s armoury: Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Keynote… Then there are the subjects specific programmes like… er, I’m an English teacher so I don’t actually get any programmes like crocodile clips to play with, but I know they exist.

Anyway, all this software has got me thinking, which single programme (for example, iMovie as opposed to the whole iLife suite, or Powerpoint as opposed to the whole of M$ Office) do you think has the greatest potential for classroom use? I know this is a vst question, but I’m just curious what you use and couldn’t live without.

I’ll start the ball rolling by saying that I think ComicLife is one of the best programmes I’ve found for classroom use. I like its ease of use, but in a classroom, I think it is a stunning tool for helping low achievers to tell a narrative. Give a group of pupils a digital camera and ComicLife and they can script, photograph and composite a really complex narrative that they would never have done if left with just a pen and paper. It is for this reason that I am trying to persuade my PC loving school to buy a couple of MacBooks or iMacs. I can use ComicLife with the less able/motivated pupils to help them achieve more than they would otherwise be pushed to do.

So… over to you! Which single bit of software do YOU think has the greatest classroom potential?


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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 11, 2006 10:26 am

    I played a little with OpenMind at SETT while waiting to encounter unknown chaps minus their blue shades – looked a fun way to mind-map with implications for structuring Critical Essays, inter alia. Too expensive to play with for me now – do you know it? (

  2. October 12, 2006 10:53 am

    What a huge question Neil! Personally, I’d love everyone to get away from the ‘office’ mentality, and move to other more creative things. Comic Life is fab, but I am completely addicted to Flash. Inspiration is another good one, as every school got it from LTS a couple of years ago? Curiously the most used will probably be Promethean ACTIV Studio or SMART Notebook becuase of their immediacy. What is great about whiteboard software is you can save as html which more teachers should do – then publish them for all to see, and for the kids to continue working on? I found a great site the other day called ‘Vyew’ ( that had shared whiteboarding?

  3. October 13, 2006 3:44 pm

    All of them! To ask what the best tool for learning is we should maybe ask what our favourite way of learning is. Mine has got to be varied, because no matter how interesting things are my attention span is so short I need to cut and change often.

  4. October 14, 2006 3:05 pm

    PowerPoint. Everything from short presentations to more complex multimedia. A limited page (screen) size doesn’t daunt those who can’t/won’t write much and the ability to easily hyperlink provides a more open environment for those who will. Kids love it.

    However, our staff still produce long-winded, full sentenced, bullet-pointed presentations for meetings, though that they then read out to us word for word.

  5. October 14, 2006 4:04 pm

    Chis – The infamous Death By Powerpoint! I have a Rector who does this… all though, to his credit, he is trying to change. I think everyone who uses powerpoint should be forced to subscribe to the Presentation Zen blog. I’ve picked up more points from that website than any other. If nothing else, they should read this post about the difference between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs styles of presenting.

    One last thing, have you seen this? It’s got to be the coolest smartboard software ever… I want it, and I’m an English teacher!

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