IT Resources Review

Hi All,

I have spent some time reviewing a selected group of IT Resources that could be used in a typical Australian classroom.

Some would be more effective than others but as with everything, you need to find some poor examples to appreciate the good ones……

Scratch:

There seems to be too much going on here. Upon opening the page, I’m immediately thinking to myself that this page looks “basic, cheap and dated”. As I play with some of the applications I can see that they have some useful aspects but I think the front page of the site would be enough to ‘lose’ a number of students before the topic had even begun.

Google App Inventor:

This seems like a great idea on paper but the proof will be in the pudding (so to speak). Apparently it has been tested on children but to what extent? To what standard are the applications that are being created? I noticed with interest that one writer thought Google should further develop their existing apps rather than create a vehicle for more. Conversely, the thought that regardless of the quality of the app, the ‘good ones’ rise to the top very quickly also has merit. As I said above, time will ultimately judge this program but I must say it looks like a big step forward in the smart phone apps department and should open the technology up to more people.

Smartpen:

I really do like this concept – although from the reviews it sounds like it’s very much still in the concept phase. Being able to write and record at the same time would certainly be an advantage in an educational setting. The upload and share function via the website is also a useful tool. What worries me about this technology is two things. 1) The cost seems to be quite high – I guess this will come down as they become a more ‘mainstream’ piece of technology and 2) They still appear to be inconsistent in their operation. As with all new technologies, the more time and testing that goes into them, the better they get – the smartpen will fall into this category.

PC Tech Guide:

What instantly strikes me about this website is the sale of website ‘real estate’ on the front page. That straight away loses my ‘trust’ in the site. Despite that poor start, I like the in depth reviews, utilities and alike that the site offers. Certainly very informative and user friendly. This would be a good site to source information for a project or a short answer quiz or potentially as a source of discussion for a more in depth investigation. I couldn’t see this site being used often, rather as a resource to go to in search of relevant information.

Java Script Bits and Pieces:

I’ll be blunt – this is a poor website and judging by the links I visited, a poor website. It looks very ordinary, is hard to navigate and the information provided is basic and in many cases out of date. The only way I can see myself including this in a lesson would be to highlight website design errors or as a project to identify things that could improve such a site. Ultimately, I would search for a better option than this site, regardless of the activity.

App Inventor:

The website and content instantly have an appealing feel which creates a sense of wanting to learn more. Given that, the short video highlights the simplicity of this product and how easily an app can be created. Showing the basic functions of the site was also very relevant. I would certainly consider incorporating this into a classroom however I would have to consider access to smart phones (with android) and the level of app that we wanted to create. Regardless, a site that would give an insight into the world of app creation.

How stuff works:

This site has too much going on. Once again it suffers from the advertising in key real estate syndrome but besides that it’s hardly aesthetically pleasing. A disappointing aspect is the amount of navigation that’s required to access information – you feel like you’re finger will fall off after all that clicking….. It is American related so using it in an Australian classroom would require substantial planning. I do like how they have incorporated short videos into the stories – definitely suits the auditory/visual learner. Essentially this site could be useful in a teaching sense, but as I mentioned above, it would require careful planning and specific instructions.

Webopedia:

This site falls into the trap of giving you ‘too much’ information. Everything is in your face which for me created a feeling of being ‘lost’. What I do like is the simple, easy to use search bar at the top of the page. I am also a fan of the easy to read (both in format and content) articles – once you find what you’re after of course. This would certainly be a terrific resource in the classroom. It could be a central place to direct students who had IT related questions. In essence, teaching the students to help themselves progress their learning. I could see this being a resource you would familiarise students with very early in the course.

Web pages that suck:

I have previously used this site and found it extremely hard to navigate through. Can this site be nominated for its own award??? I would use this site only to highlight errors in web design, essentially to create a comparison for students to model their own web designs on. By having students being able to identify errors in these sites will hopefully increase their understanding of what does and doesn’t work. Outside of that purpose, I would avoid this site and most likely search for a more user friendly option.

Cheers

DT

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