Picking up ICT

14th July 2000 at 01:00

DO IT SERIES. Key Stage 1, 2 and Special Needs Numeracy and Literacy. Single user packs pound;30 + VAT (each program includes four 40-page books of copiable worksheets).

DESIGN AND PROBLEM SOLVING. Single user packs (no worksheets). pound;25 +VAT. Primary site licence packs double the price. Topologika, tel: 01326 377771; e-mail: sales@topolgka.demon.co.uk,website: www.topolgka.demon.co.uk

At the dawn of computers in education one of the software categories that emerged from the swamp was the "ULP". These "useful little programs" were designed to meet a specific educational need, usually focused on a specific learning task, and took a drill and practice approach to learning. Most ULPs were written for the BBC machine or the RM 186 and its predecessors. Now Topologika has revised the ULP for the latest machines. While this may not be a demanding use of the computer power of modern machines, the potential value in establishing basic skills is unquestionable.

The Do IT series of software consists of 16 programs packaged into four offerings, each covering one area of the curriculum, for key stage 1 and 2 pupils.

The Special Needs Numeracy and Literacy packs, available for Acorn and Windows, include 40 page packs of photocopiable worksheets that support the use of the software and will also provide useful homework tasks.

The numeracy pack includes a comprehesive range of counting, sorting, sums, and place-value activities as well as Venn and Carroll diagrams. Similarly the literacy pack has anagrams, matching activities, and word recognition.

The series also has Design and Problem Solving packs which are Windows only and have a range of activities that will challenge most primary children and also provide scope for task differentiation and learning progression. Tasks include building up pictures on a grid, matching, and pairing. Pupils will enjoy the design pack that contains programs to make name badges, birthday cards and certificates.

All the programs are straightforward to install and can be configured for different levels of capability. The programs have a common interface that children will find easy to use on their own and can include the well-known "Freddy Teddy", if appropriate for the user. The documentation not only provides the necessary technical help but also gives a brief educational rationale for each program.

These programs are excellent value for money, provide a sound basic software suite for key skills use at key stage1 and 2, and use a tried and tested approach to basic skills learning. The numeracy and literacy packs are especially good value, due to the large number of photocopiable worksheets.

LES WATSON Les Watson is director of information resources at Glasgow Caledonian University

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