The idea of using computer software to aid in learning originated in 1946. This article details that the first software was flight simulators that taught people how to pilot a plane. There was also hardware and software that was used to train people on radar.
When personal computers were released in 1975 educational software started to be created for the masses. The early computer systems such as the Commodore PET, the Apple II, and the Commodore VIC-20 all had educational software. Some of the earliest educational tech companies were designed this type of software for children.
This article goes into the details of how teachers should choose what apps to use in their classrooms. The app needs to be age-appropriate and effectively solves a problem that the teacher has. They need to then figure out how to incorporate the app they have selected into their instructional practices where it will enhance their teaching instead of making things more difficult.
Navigating the App Store or Google Play to look for any app, including educational ones, can be difficult. Teachers will turn to their peers to find apps that work in their classrooms. There are also now databases created by nonprofits which help teachers decide what would be appropriate for their classroom.
While the purpose of this software is to teach that doesn’t mean that there can’t be fun involved. Some educational tech companies have gamified their software in order to make it more enjoyable so that children will want to use it. They feel more motivated to use the software and so end up learning quite a bit from it. An early example of this was Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing which incorporates mini-games so that users stay engaged while learning to efficiently type.
Some educational software allows children to create a portfolio of their classroom work. Some of the student portfolio examples include pictures taken in class, artwork they created, and examples of their writing abilities. Students can share their portfolios with their teachers and parents. Before a student’s post is shared with the parent the teacher first needs to approve it. Once the teacher does so only the student’s parent can see the work as it all takes place in a secure environment.
To further encourage students to use the educational software, developers have added in things beyond games. There can also be leaderboards where students compete against each other for the top ranks. A lot of students are motivated by this to be the best in their class at something. Students are also motivated by progress tracking so they can see how much they have improved over time.
One of the latest trends in educational software is incorporating artificial intelligence. Students can ask the program a question and the AI will seek out the answer and then provide it along with an explanation. This allows teachers to focus on advanced and complex material while the students can find answers on their own to less complicated ones.