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
The survey, which runs until May 15, is on the OSAPAC web site at www.tvo.org/osapac. 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
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
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
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
Mary Storey is an information technology consultant for the York
Region District School Board and a co-chair of the OSAPAC Committee.