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SCU team produces new educational software

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Published
20 May 2004
The lack of good quality Australian-made educational software has prompted a student and two academics at Southern Cross University’s (SCU) Coffs Harbour campus to design and develop a new spelling software program for children.

Bonnie Capell, a student in the Bachelor of Multimedia, and SCU lecturers Cheryl Howard and Danny Wonish, will launch their program, Aussie Kids Spelling Tool at Korora Primary School, Coffs Harbour, on Friday, May 21, at 11.30am.

Ms Capell, who is the parent of two primary school age children, said it became obvious during her study that many of the educational programs available for children did not actually help them learn.

“There’s a lot of software out there, but most of it has so many bells and whistles it actually makes it harder for children to learn,” Ms Capell said.

“Too much multimedia reduces the learning environment. Some of those programs are fun, but they don’t enhance the learning.”

She said the Spelling Tool program did not have lots of distractions, but did allow for user feedback and for children to work at their own pace. A separate program for teachers will allow them to add in their own lists of words to tie in with particular topics.

The program, which caters for years one to six, is based on the school curriculum and has been through a rigorous evaluation program by teachers, parents and children. It contains more than 1800 words, each presented in a sentence context via audio, and then prompts the child to spell the word on screen.

“We have had a fantastic response and very positive feedback from teachers and parents,” Ms Capell said.

The project has been a combined effort. Cheryl Howard, a lecturer in the School of Multimedia and Information Technology and former school teacher, undertook much of the programming work as well as providing input into the educational aspects, while Danny Wonish, also a lecturer, provided the graphics and animation.

Dr Graham Cooper, course co-ordinator of the Bachelor of Multimedia, said the instructional design strategies embedded in the program would help to create reduced learning times and higher levels of retention.

“Learning to spell words is a cognitively demanding task and as such, there needs to be minimal levels of unnecessary interactivity during learning phases,” Dr Cooper said.

Ms Capell said they hoped to promote their program through school newsletters and would be offering a 10 per cent rebate for each copy sold to a P and C organisation nominated by the purchaser. A free copy is also being sent to each school in the district.

For information about the program visit the website: www.cyberroomedia.com

Photo caption: Isabelle Capell-Hattam demonstrates the Aussie Kids Spelling Tool software with developers Bonnie Capell and Danny Wonish.

Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.


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