Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Game Elementary Advantage

Elementary Advantage 2011Elementary Advantage 2011 offers a wide variety of learning activities that will challenge students at all elementary grade levels. While it is one of many educational games, we found it lacked any social studies learning modules, it offers a wide range of learning curricula that will help your students build a stronger educational foundation. This product earned its second place ranking in the top three, simply due to the array of learning activities, engaging games and quality of the teaching pedagogy. The teaching methods employed in this software are quite entertaining for children and will keep their minds attentive and stimulated as they learn.
Feature Set:
As we tested this product, we were offered activities typical to educational games in reading, writing, math and science. We even had access to electronic encyclopedias as well as beginner Spanish activities. These features, combined with the multitude of gaming and teaching techniques for every elementary school subject, make this one of the best educational games available for students in grades K-3. With this program, your students will be able to further enhance their skills and understanding in:
A fair number of activities revolved around reading and writing, which is a rather suitable considering the age group for such educational games. Each lesson sought to help us learn how to read by starting with the basics of pronouncing letters and combining letters to create different sounds. Half of the learning modules were focused on reading, and each one on a different aspect. We found learning activities based on phonics, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, basic reading and writing. For example, one activity focused on the sounds two consonants made when combined, such as “sk,” “sn” and “fr.” These letters were then combined with an actual word and then sounded out as “skate,” “snake” and “frog.” Pictures were displayed in the background to also establish picture association. After the word was sounded out, we could hover the mouse cursor over each cluster of letters to replay audio and hear how the letters sounded.
The software offered us several modules on math, and we chose to work with the simplest of the two. In a strange turn of events, we got to pick a pet that would help us get through the learning material. With our hamster close at hand, we delved into the rich world of addition and were presented with multiple-choice problems. After accomplishing several problems, we got to throw a Frisbee around and have the hamster play fetch with it. That was a very talented hamster. In this program’s math module, we found lessons on counting, values, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
The science section, while different in design from the other subject modules, offered a lot of learning content. We were able to navigate between such subjects as astronomy and biology. It did not offer us learning activities that were interactive, but instead posed science experiments in which we could engage away from the game. We were able to find information on stars and comets down to tornados and hurricanes. In this program’s science module, we found material for general science, astronomy, chemistry, and basic science.
We then got to participate in some fun activities for the Beginning Spanish learning module. Activities were offered that helped us brush up on the Spanish alphabet, numbers, common objects, connector words and basic conversation. We didn’t really speak Spanish at the start of this test, but now we are confident in our ability to correctly pronounce such words as “y” and “biblioteca.”
Educational Value:
We found the potential for problems in the lack of distinction between first grade through fifth grade material. This means you never quite know how difficult or easy a lesson will be until the student begins going through the lesson. While this is a downside for higher grade levels that want to cover more complex subjects like sentence structure and grammar, for students in K-3 the content is quite suitable. The material is quite simple and well-suited for students third grade and younger, though your students could potentially use this in later grades.
They broke the English section into six modules and the math section into two. This was useful because the age of the student is what determines which module they need to study. Yet there is no way to categorize the information by age, so students may encounter activities geared to an older audience. The math section doesn’t cover as much as the English sections do, but every little bit helps when a student may need that little extra boost to learn a key principle. This program doesn’t include geography or history of any kind. Since social studies is one of the core subjects, we were expecting to find it in the software.

Elementary Advantage 2011 is one of the few educational software applications we’ve found that offers foreign language learning. While the lesson material in Beginner Spanish was informative, it was quickly forgotten. The teaching style was not one that exercised repetition or made it easy for us to remember what was learned moments before.
There was an obvious difference between the science module and the other sections. The science course is laid out quite differently. It employs none of the same learning styles and is very text-heavy. The graphics and audio seemed like they had been done by an entirely different company. While the material covered in the science course was very extensive and interesting, it was much too text-heavy for younger students. The module felt very out of place on Elementary Advantage 2011, so we were quite disappointed that it had been included in its current state.
Ease of Use:
This software is very easy to use and will instantly be understood by most students. Each activity plays a heavy role in advancing to the next lesson in a given subject, especially in the math section. Every few questions, there is an activity the student needs to complete in order to progress. Entertaining as the activities were, if the student can’t beat each activity, they won’t be able to progress in their learning. Suffice it to say, we thought it a slight hang-up in teaching methodologies. This made the focus of the program seem like it was based more on a student’s video gaming abilities and less on their ability to answer questions. At the same time, the games offer varying levels of difficulty that students can choose from. If a student finds one activity too difficult, they can switch to an easier game while maintaining the same difficulty in learning questions.
One downfall of the overall installation is that you must install each subject independently and there is no “install all subjects” function. If you want to install the reading, writing and Spanish courses, you have to install each course separately. This can get rather tedious, especially when you then consider that each course has to be run individually. If you’re in the writing course and decide you want to practice vocabulary, you have to exit the program back to your computer desktop and then load the vocabulary course. Executing such a task will likely prove somewhat difficult for younger students to duplicate. The reasoning behind this is likely that the software was meant for classroom use so teachers could ensure students used the program currently being covered in class.
Kid Appeal:
Elementary Advantage 2011 offers an enjoyable combination of learning activities combined with entertaining mini-games. At the end of a lesson, students are given the opportunity to play short games that involve accruing points to beat high scores or purchasing in-game items (e.g., pets, accessories, etc.). The games are based more on reflexes than material learned. These activities are quite entertaining and, while they don’t necessarily tie into the lesson, they do give students enjoyable activities to look forward to after they complete a learning section. The only issue behind this is if the student is unable to beat the activity, they cannot progress in the lesson curriculum.
Help & Support:
This software offers multiple media for support via email, FAQs and phone. Should you encounter any issues with the installation or performance of your software, you will not have an issue with contacting the manufacturers. As a side note, we noticed they offer an “Advantage Money Back Guarantee.” According to the software documentation, if your student’s grade point average (GPA) within the covered subjects does not improve from one report card to the next after using an Advantage product, then you can return this product within 180 days of the date of purchase and have your money refunded. This puts any refunds on a tight schedule depending on how often your school distributes report cards.
Elementary Advantage 2011 earned second place on TopTen REVIEWS because of its performance guarantee and the large number of features offered. The downside of this product is that it doesn’t separate the information into grade levels. Students will find themselves enjoying learning in grades K-3 through this educational software. At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To