5 characteristic of online software for math
When I first look at a computer screen or a new web design, I first look at the ease of reading the text. The best is a light grey or white cream color with a dark grey or black as the background. I have come across sites that will have a dark color with dark text. If you have ever seen an image with dark colors in it and the image had dark imposed lettering you know what I mean. The dark lettering disappears against the dark backdrop of the image. You almost have to guess what the hidden text is saying. It is far too much work.
Another factor in color is too much. Clown colors are out unless you are dealing with children. Sound should also be limited. I do not like circus music unless you are dealing with smaller students.
Thus, interest and appearance should be age appropriate. All you have to do is look at a kid site and you will know what I mean. Fat letters, bright colors, circus music in the background although there are some good games out there that are seriously challenging.
There should be an option for the student to have immediate feedback on the answer and how the answer is processed. I call it teaching without error. It is not a good idea to have the student continue on the same error. Once it is established, then it is hard to break.
Thus, the software should not allow the student to move on unless there is a correct reinforcement of their work.
The software should not be overhead with endless rows of problems. If you have ever taken a test and had a worksheet place in front of you with an endless row of problems then you know what I mean. The eye focuses on the next problem or the next one and so on. That is a time waster. Just take the first problem first and don’t worry about the coming future. It is too overwhelming.
Break between solutions
When a student is struggling with math, I think it is a good idea to be able to walk away from the computer after a limited amount of time. I have been in classes where the professor has droned. Sitting there was worse than a root canal. The advantage of listening to a lecture is you can check out and go the happy place in your mind. When dealing with math interaction assessments and practice, there needs to be a stopping and starting place. Something it is just one problem after another, but after 15 or 20 minutes of work, students struggling with math need a break.
Another way to handle this issue is a set of 5 or 7 problems on the same subject matter, and then the student is done with that session. Of course, with online math, a student can walk away anytime they want, but the roll is to keep them focused for a time and then give a break.
Ease of changing level of difficulty
I always look for the level of difficulty when the online system first starts out. It should be below the student’s level, even when engaged in mathematical equations taking up half a page of notes.
The user should be able to pick the type of equations on which to practice, but the level of difficulty should be based on what the student can actually accomplish. If the student cannot find a solution, then the software should go over the same concept before allowing the more extensive processes. However, again, the new set of problems should always begin with the easiest for the user to manage.
That’s it for now. Happy hunting, I will be covering a few of the free math online software I use with my students in the near future with the criteria outlined above. In the meantime, please leave some feedback on the online software you use so our community can be informed.