Granada Learning package Primary Toolkit hits all the right buttons, says Chris Drage.
In response to the need for an integrated and manageable suite of primary software tools, Granada Learning has developed what must be the most child-friendly software suite to date.
Its Primary Toolkit includes six elements:
* Primary Writer, a versatile, talking word processor and desktop publisher;
* Primary Colours, a paint program;
* Primary Spreadsheet, an easy-to-use spreadsheet with built-in graphing;
* Primary Database, a configurable and simple-to-use database * Internet Odyssey, Granada's multimedia presentation creator;
* Launcher, a password-protected management tool for configuring the above.
The control over Primary Toolkit is admirable. Through the Launcher you can set up configurations for classes or individual pupils, create passwords and even control which elements of the Toolkit can be accessed at any time. It would be possible to allow each part of the Toolkit to be specified for use from reception class to key stage 3, with each configuration stored for us by a pupil or groups of pupils. Thus, the software can develop as pupils' abilities do. And since the program can be networked, pupils' work files are stored on the server.
The software tools possess a number of interesting features. The spreadsheet allows step-by-step exercises to be attached to a worksheet, for example, or the word processor has multimedia features rivalling TextEase, including support for Web pages and virtually all PC sound and image formats. Granada Learning promises on-going development will enable additional applications to be integrated with the Toolkit. The only item missing is a branching database, available as Primary Branch (see below).
Primary Toolkit is a simple, intuitive software package that lets pupils create everything from stories and pictures to Web pages, spreadsheets, databases and multimedia presentations. It leaves ClarisWorks and the RMMicrosoft First Word and the like standing at this level and offers the last word in support for teaching writing skills, arguably the most difficult of subjects to deliver at the primary level. Integrated and fully configurable, it will provide all the components for delivering most of the curriculum in ICT.