10th November 2000 at 00:00
INFANT VIDEO TOOLBOX. FoundationKS1. pound;75 (single-user licence), pound;350 (site licence) 2Simple Software,10 Nursery Walk Court, Nursery Walk, Sunningfields Road, London NW4 4RJ. Tel: 020 8203 1781 Website: www.2Simple.org.uk. Email: sales@2simple.org.uk

Good educational software can be hard to find. There is often a mismatch between what is available and what works in the classroom. But I spy a brave new outfit which challenges this - 2Simple Software.

The creators of Infant Video Toolbox have an impeccable pedigree. Former primary teachers with consultancy, advisory and extensive ICT training experience, they really know their stuff. Born out of frustration with dominant generic software and the absence of (cost) effective training and technical support, 2Simple and its sister company, Final Touch (www.finaltouch.org), design straightforward solutions (including web design and multimedia authoring) to meet the needs of the foundation and primary ICT curriculum.

Infant Video Toolbox is a suite of six programs designed to teach ICT to pre-readers or those who speak English as an additional language. The simplicity of the software ensures that children focus on their work rather than the software.

2Paint is the simplest of drawing programs, which children can use as soon as they can hold a mouse. The intrface is intuitive and makes use of simple icons and appropriate text. It is designed to take pupils towards the standard Windows interface.

2Publish extends learning by enabling children to combine text and graphics. Twelve templates provide a framework for children to make illustrated stories, books, letters, envelopes, posters and borders. 2Count allows learners to display survey results as pictograms and 2Go is a basic control program. 2Question is a simple branching database and 2Graph enables youngsters to present data as a bar, line, pie or block graph.

Teacher options enable the print button to be displayed or hidden, work to be saved or opened and font size, style and colour to be selected. Teachers will appreciate the clear user guide with its links to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's ICT scheme of work and the many teaching ideas contained within the tutorial videos, which show how to use the programs. These videos are created with Lotus ScreenCam.

Recorded as part of a real lesson, the commentary is encouraging, with teaching points skilfully woven into the script. In developing Infant Video Toolbox, 2Simple's motivation has been enthusiasm, not commercialism - and it shows.

Claire Johnson is studying for a MSc in computer-based learning at Southampton University

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