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SoftChalk Review by Heidi Miller-Ford

By Sue Polyson Evans, Robert Goodwin-Jones, Peter Huneke
SoftChalk LLC
22 S. Auburn Ave.
Richmond, VA 23221
877-638-2425
http://softchalk.com/

SoftChalk is a surprisingly simple yet professional-looking Web lesson editor. With this computer program, you can create interactive lessons for an entire classroom or for only one student. These lessons can range from drill and practice to reinforcement through games. I received a download of the software and easily installed and activated it. The program is set up to resemble a word processing program, thus making it familiar and easy to use. It takes only a few simple clicks to choose a template for your lesson and personalize the look. Then you are ready to start creating. The information you can include in the lesson is limitless. Almost anything that can be built in Word can be copied and pasted into SoftChalk. In addition, images, videos, audio, hyperlinks, and more can be incorporated into the lessons to make it multisensory. The lessons can be created on several pages, or a series of lessons can be compiled into an e-course.  

Each page you create can include a table of contents (if the lesson has more than one page), sidebars, and buttons to go back to the top or to the next page, making it very easy for a student to navigate. Within each lesson, the creator has the choice of 11 different activities to present the information to the student: Crossword, DragNDrop, Flash Card, Hot Spot, Labeling, Ordering, Photo Album, Seek a Word, Slideshow, Sorting, and Timeline. Once the information has been learned, there are seven quiz formats that can be used to assess the student's retention of the material. These include True/False, Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer, Short Answer, Matching, Ordering, and Essay. All of these activities and quizzes are so easy to create. I simply had to plug in the facts and/or answers, make a few choices about how I wanted things displayed, and that was it.  

As you develop your lesson, you can view it in a browser to see how it will appear to the student. You can even click on the activities to see how they work. Once you complete a lesson, it can be packaged in several different formats, such as zip, CD, and scorm, depending on how you want to export it. These lessons can be geared toward any age group, from toddlers (if they can work a mouse) to adults. This product could be used by educators from elementary through college level, as well as professionals wanting to train their staff. I definitely can see this being used in a homeschool setting as well. This is such a wonderful tool and so easy to use that anyone can create lessons for his student at home. I think this would actually make a great computer course for a high school student. 

Pros:

  • Very simple to use
  • Professional looking
  • Interactive
  • Multisensory
  • Ability to keep score
  • Fun activities
  • Variety of formats to keep it from getting repetitive
  • Excellent customer service
  • Perfect for students with an aversion to writing
  • Useful for an individual student as well as a group

Cons:

  • Inability to see how the lesson will actually look until it is viewed in a browser
  • Difficulty distinguishing files because the program creates so many different ones with similar names

In the short time I reviewed this program, I barely began to tap into all the possibilities it has to offer. You can view online demos to see just how much this program has to offer. In addition, the company offers wonderful online training courses you can take right from your home. I took one of these courses and learned a lot from it. It was a live class, and participants were able to have questions answered. Customer service was impressive as well. Any time I had questions, I got a quick response.  

I really enjoyed using the SoftChalk software. Their motto, "If it's not easy, it's not SoftChalk," is very true. Within a short amount of time, I was able to create an interactive lesson for my son that reviewed material we had covered throughout the week. He loved it! It is not easy to keep his attention or find something school related that he enjoys. This product passed the test. He was able to learn and review material on level, but the activities I chose did not require any written work on his part. Students who have an aversion to writing or who struggle with written expression will find this a nice alternative to paper work.  

This program is available at several different prices:

  • Retail: $995
  • Educators: $550
  • Students: $150

I checked to see if the student price is available to homeschool students. I was told yes, as long as the purchaser is able to provide documentation showing he is homeschooled. 

Product review by Heidi Miller-Ford, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010

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