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Research Basis for Merit Software:
Relevance of Educational Technology

Studies suggest that educational software can accelerate the learning process. A group of teachers and administrators surveyed by the New York City Literacy Initiative suggest that using computer technology to complement class work will benefit learners concentrating on areas where they need improvement. If utilized properly, technology can assist students in learning independently and at an individual pace. In addition, students who are at ease using technology tend to take more time doing classroom assignments as well as showing a willingness to try new challenges (Denny, 2000).

Other recent studies have emphasized biological elements to explain the adaptability of the mind and brain (Schwartz, 2002). Analytic and linguistic ability can be improved through new activity, focus, and practice. Software usage can dynamically alter learning patterns. Indeed, software offering text-to-speech capability has been shown to rapidly enhance the comprehension skills of struggling readers (Pisha & Coyne, 2001, and Disseldorp & Chambers, 2002).

Educational software should have a multiple impact on students, including increasing self-confidence, improving comprehension and retention, and increasing motivation. Therefore, it is vital to provide students with the right technological tools. The purpose of educational software is to help students both in and out of the classroom. Technology augments “opportunities to access, evaluate and communicate knowledge” (Denny).

Students should be learning more than basics; they should be learning to connect concepts, to solve unfamiliar problems, to communicate ideas. They should finish instructional programs feeling challenged in an appropriate way, receiving a lasting impression and being able to apply what they have learned. Educational software should not only help to foster excitement about learning and enable help students to complete their own computer-related goals but provide part of a foundation for advanced schooling and for a future profession.

Finally, educational software should impact classes, programs, and schools. Rather than replacing classroom instruction, it should effectively supplement it. As with other kinds of computer-assisted instruction (CAI), educational software is at its best when it is integrated into theme-based curricula. Educational software should serve as an efficient means to help schools and programs demonstrate criterion-referenced academic progress. It should improve learning for all students, from the lowest to highest quartiles in each class. Educational software should help to ameliorate acute differentials in academic expectations, opportunities and outcomes.