Whenever people think about computers, they are most likely thinking about the computer machine such as the television- like monitor screen, the keyboard to type on, the printer which produces copies of text- and- graphics material, and the computer housing called “the box” which contains the electronic parts and circuits, the CPU or the central processing unit that receives and stores data and directs computer operations. The computer machine or hardware is naturally an attention- getter.
It’s more difficult to realize, however, that the computer hardware can hardly be useful without the program or system that tells what the computer machine should do. This is called the software. There are two types of software:
1. The system software - This is the operating system that is found or bundled inside all computer machines.
2. The application software - This contains the system that commands the particular task or solves a particular problem.
Also referred to as a program, Microsoft windows or Microsoft in short is an operating environment between the user and the computer operating system. Also called a shell, it is a layer that creates the way the computer should work. Windows uses a colorful graphics interface called GUI that can be seen on the computers screen or monitor whenever the computer is turn on.
The user can work with on screen pictures (icons) and suggestions (menus) to arrive at the desired software. Windows 95 now improved with windows 2003 and 2007 is software designed for Microsoft windows. Actually, a window is in itself a self-contain operating system which provides:
● User convenience- just clicks a file name to retrieve data or click from program to program as easy as changing channels in your television screen.
● A new look- fancy border, smooth and streamlined text fonts.
● Information center- windows put all communications activities (e-mail, downloads etc. in a single icon), adapts and configures for the internet.
● Plug and play- configures the computer with added components, such as for sound and video.
Instructional software can be visited on the Internet or can be bought from software shops or dealers. The teacher through his school should decide on the best computer-based instructional (CBIs) materials for the school resource collection. But beware since CBIs need much improvement, while web-based educational resources are either extremely good or what is complete garbage. In evaluating computer-based educational materials, the following can serve as guidelines:
● Be extremely cautious in using CBIs `free` Internet materials
● Don`t be caught up by attractive graphics, sound, pictures, video clips, and music forgetting their instructional worth
● Teachers must evaluate these resources using sound pedagogical principles
● Among design and content elements to evaluate are: the text legibility, effective use of color schemes, attractive layout and design, and easy navigation from section to section
● Clarity in explanations and illustrations of concepts and principles
● Accuracy, coherence, logic of information
● Their being current since data/statics continually change
● Relevance/effectiveness in attaining learning objectives
● Absence of biased materials