General FAQs for Wordshark 5 and Numbershark 5
On a score of 1 to 10 (10 = most complex), how complex and user-friendly is the software?
- taking 1 as “cause and effect” suitable for a profoundly disabled learner with single switch access,
- taking 10 as, for example, creating and manipulating data & graphs in Excel, advanced use of Word, simple programming or teenage “building city” simulations
How complex is this software for users?
- For the Child: This can be as low as 1 for a child who needs “simple”. For an older / intelligent / self-motivated student working independently, around 7
- For the supervising adult: Using the program “out of the box, around 4. Using the program at an advanced level for a range of learning difficulties, modern and ancient languages, adult exam revision, around 8
How user – friendly is this software for users?
- For the Child: 1-2 (some games may need explaining: Each has a “Help” which will read itself out. Many games have easier or harder options, and these may need explaining. Most children aged 6+ are likely to need minimal help, but most children aged
- For the supervising adult: There are video tutorials that guide non-reading adults though the main features and functions, so use at a simple level is around 4.. Use at an advanced level requires reading of the (on screen and printable) manual, and/or helpsheets, score round 8.
- Staff using the program as a whole-school intervention will benefit from a training session with linked work on visual stress, dyslexia, dyscalculia, score 10.
How effective is this software as a learning tool?
- “Out of the box”, with a learner using the program in an unsupervised and unstructured way, effectiveness is likely to be low in terms of learning rate. For many younger (pre-teen) children, the programs will be effective in keeping the learner amused / interested, but not necessarily move them forward.
- With appropriate guidance from the supervising adult, effectiveness increases significantly. As different activities tap into different modes of learning, some games will be found to work better for some learners, other games for other learners. Effectiveness increases as the adult learns to make use of the variety of learning techniques within each program’s games.
What age range do Wordshark and Numbershark cater for?
- Wordshark work ranges from tracking eyes from left to right, initial phonics, letters and words suitable for most 3-4 year olds (with adult support), up through the school years to adult literacy levels via specialist subject vocabulary for teenagers. Wordshark also allows addition of your own words, phrases, descriptions and translations, so can be useful for language learning up to college & University–levels of literacy/spelling/semantics/vocabulary work.
- Numbershark ranges from recognising number at a level suitable for most 3-4 year olds (with adult support) through to a level of numeracy at least as great as an average adult – for example, addition of fractions mentally such as 3 4/5 plus 2 3/7 or estimating 3,472 x 793, so is useful for developing, consolidating and revising numeracy skills in approximately half of students of around age 16.
Does Wordshark cater for American English spellings?
- Yes: The program includes an option to use English(UK) or English (United States) spellings.
Are these programs available as downloads?
- The programs are available as downloads onto Windows 10 or Mac OSX (not iOS), on USB (for portability between computers) or DVD, and as whole-site school network licences (Windows server or peer to peer)
Can I download the program onto multiple computers?
- Downloads are available as a single licence for one computer, or as multiple licences for download onto multiple computers.
Do I need internet access?
- The USB and DVD do not need internet access, other than for accessing updates or on-line video tutorials.
- The download & school network products need access for initial download and activation and for accessing updates or on-line video tutorials, but otherwise do not need internet access.
Do the programs track progress each time an exercise is completed?
- Yes: In most modes of completing work you can see exactly what activity/level was completed, along with a score, time, and an indication of errors made.
How easy is it for a student to “cheat”?
- This is up to the supporting adult: Students may or may not be allowed to “peep” at an answer, for example. This can be useful, as frequent peeping indicates a low confidence level in a particular word list or numeracy concept: Peeping at the answer then usually reduces as confidence, learning and skills improve at that level.
- It is possible for the supporting adult to “lock down” or “open up” the programs to a level appropriate to the learner: Some children need a heavily locked down learning structure, and others are well on the way to being fully independent learners. The adult(s) supervising and setting work can vary settings to needs.
How distracting are the games, and do they have distracting elements, e.g. ability change sounds, backgrounds, avatars?
- Most games have been structured to allow for a minimum of distraction. For example, the screens of activity icons can be switched to allow static or moving icons.
- The “error” sound can be switched off or reduced in volume if this a distraction for an individual student
- Background colours can be adjusted to support students with visual stress
- A small choice of avatars and sprites are available: Access to a wider range is at the discretion of the supervising adult.
Do the games unlock in order of difficulty as a level is completed?
- The adult(s) supervising and setting work can vary settings to needs:
- totally locked down, with progression to the next level only on completion to a standard determined by the adult
- through to a limited selection of games and word lists /numeracy concepts
- through to fully unlocked