Instructional Design and Pedagogical Soundness
This software was designed with many different content areas in mind. The software is appropriate for almost any classroom because it covers information related to a variety of subjects. The material is very appropriate for the recommended grades of 2-6. The graphics in this program are used extensively. Some of the graphics lead students to the different areas of the software, while others are the base of the software. Graphics are used to create dioramas or are parts of already constructed dioramas.
The instructional objectives are varied depending on what type of lesson is being done with this software. However, the instructional objectives in the teacher's guide are very clearly explained. The objectives do an excellent job of matching the work that the students will be producing. Teachers will need to spend some time with this program and with the teacher's guide before using it with a class. Students will only need a brief overview about how to use this software from their teacher before using Diorama Designer.
Considerations Pertinent to General Applications Software
The content areas that might use this software include social studies, math, language arts/reading, science, art, health, and foreign language. The software is fairly easy to use after an introduction to the software has been given. The directions in the Teacher's Guide for activities are very clear and concise. It is the teacher's job of relaying these directions to the students in an appropriate manner. The only manual dexterity required to use this software is the ability to use a mouse.
This content is accurate and up-to-date. There are some racial and gender stereotypes in this software. The people that are to be included in the dioramas are typical of the stereotypes for these individuals. For example, the Native Americans are stereotyped slightly in their depiction, as are the boys/girls of the items for "Today." These stereotypes are not highly offensive though; a teacher just might want to mention that not all Native Americans look as they are depicted in this software. Though there are stereotypes, I did not see any bias toward any specific group.
The installation directions for this software are very clearly stated in the Teacher's Guide. The directions are simple, clear, and concise. The Teacher's Guide is a valuable resource for any teacher using this software. The Teacher's Guide contains everything that one would need to effectively use this software, including lesson plans, worksheets, handouts, additional web resources for various lessons, lists of the standards met by the lessons, and many other valuable items.
There is built in electronic help with the software. "Ruckus the Beaver" appears as an icon in the upper left hand corner of every page. If the user clicks on this character, help will be provided with the various aspects of the software. I did not find any notable provisions for special populations in this software.
Project #1 Web Component Final Lesson/Unit Plan Outline
Page last updated
October 15, 2004
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