By Lani Aquino
With all of the personal funds that teachers pour into their classrooms and the education of their students, it can be very frustrating to see districts spending exorbitant amounts of money on software licenses that go unused. Many programs are purchased without much input from staff or even much training to uncover the capability and usage implications. This leads to many programs sitting untouched with dollars that could have been allocated to more impactful software and/or products wasted.
In 2018, edscoop reported on data collected from 48 California districts which showed that only 30% of software licenses were being used, and only an abysmal 2.4% were used intensely. With most students holding at least 5 licenses at over $5 per pupil, it’s easy to calculate the ineffectiveness of the dollars being spent. When licensing purchases are being discussed, these 5 options have positive track records for being impactful and well used.
Canvas- Canvas is a Learning Management System (LMS) that streamlines and simplifies teaching and learning. The easy-to-use interface makes this a very adoptable system. Canvas allows users to manipulate data, share information, audio/video message, set up automated tasks, keep a clear calendar, chat, utilize collaborative workspaces, align to Common Core and state standards, import courses, customize navigation, create eportfolios, grade, and more. All stakeholders can accessibly be involved via this platform.
Education City- This elementary-based program offers a variety of teacher resources. Users are able to utilize the planning tools and then identify the best resources for reaching students with different needs at a variety of levels. The built-in learning support readily engages students, and there are a numerous ways to monitor and report on learning within the program. The free trial offer allows potential users the opportunity to explore the variety of tools and resources before making a purchasing decision.
Matific- This K-6 mathematics program has shown to improve student results in just 15 minutes per week. Matific offers a variety of activities, worksheets, and word problems. Assignments can be automatic or teacher-driven, and students are able to access the program from any device. Professional development and ongoing assistance are key components to the ease of integration of this program. Teachers are able to receive real-time results and easily track students’ growth and mastery in mathematics.
Active Classroom- Enhance the social studies curriculum with a subscription to Active Classroom. This program is a customizable, online learning resource that covers U.S. History, World History, Government & Civics, Psychology, Sociology, Geography & Global Studies, and Economics & Personal Finance. Teachers can access a wide range of primary source information and share literature, videos, poetry, and more with students in engaging and customizable lessons. The bevy of resources available can easily be adapted for students of different ages and ability levels.
Big Universe- A K-12 tool for literacy, Big Universe is one of many program offered by Fuel Education. With Big Universe, students are able to access over 14,00o fiction and non-fiction leveled ebooks which make great resources for cross-curricular study and differentiated instruction. Teachers can identify books by genre, grade level, and/or Lexile, and students can access them on any device. The newly added Reading Fluency Tool accurately scores students on oral fluency, comprehension, and reading level as they read aloud.
When education dollars are wasted on ineffective or unused software licenses, students lose out on valuable learning resources. Determining software options that are easily adoptable and can positively impact learning is key to spending dollars wisely. These 5 platforms fit the bill when it comes to making sound purchasing choices.
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