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Provincial committee asking for advice, requests for software for next year.

By Mary Storey

If you are one of the many teachers who find computer software a great classroom tool, look sharp! You have a chance to provide some input on what software you will be able to use next year.

Beginning March 1, the Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee (OSAPAC) is conducting their annual software survey to help them in their task of advising the Ministry of Education on what software should be purchased for schools for the 2000-2001 year.

The survey, which runs until May 15, is on the OSAPAC web site at Based on what the survey tells them teachers want, the committee contacts the vendors of the software, views and evaluates the products and recommends the best of them to the Ministry of Education for purchase.

The emphasis in locating appropriate software is on high-quality programs that reflect the provincial curriculum. Since the distribution of the Ontario curriculum for all elementary schools, there has been a match between the expectations of all subject areas and the software placed on the web site.

Software that has both English and French versions, operates in both Macintosh and Windows environment and is adaptable to the range of hardware in Ontario schools has the best chance of making the final list. Network versus stand-alone use of the software and the associated legalities are also considerations.

The chosen software is distributed to school districts at various times throughout the school year. Each year, OSAPAC creates a CD-ROM with over 100 pieces of diskette software on it.

Favourite software that teachers use include presentation software such as Hyperstudio, Kid Pix slide show and Corel WordPerfect Presentations. Simulations such as Mathville VIP and Math Circus are also favourites with students and teachers.

The OSAPAC web site is a handy reference tool for teachers using software. There is a searchable database where you can locate software suitable for the grade and course you are teaching.

For example, for a Grade 5 science class studying weather, specific learning expectations are matched to software like Weather Workstation and Encyclopedia of Nature. For the use of a Grade 9 class comparing linear and non-linear relationships, a number of pieces of software – including Zap-a-graph, E-Stat and Math Trek – are recommended.

Teachers can install much of the software on their home computers for lesson preparation and a list of the software available for use at home is also on the OSAPAC web site.

Mary Storey is an information technology consultant for the York Region District School Board and a co-chair of the OSAPAC Committee.