It really depends on your teaching style, the time that you have available each week and the availability of a computer lab in your school. If a lab is not available, you can go through each lesson with the students in the classroom with a projector and assign homework. In this case, students will need to have a computer at home – a PC or tablet – to work on these assignments.
If you want to show the students the steps that they will have to follow, you can use a projector. It depends on your teaching style.
We have tried to keep the hardware requirements for your computer lab as low as possible. You will certainly need an internet connection if you plan to teach internet communication, web researching and online working and collaboration skills. A simple Windows PC that can adequately run Windows and Office will be sufficient up to Digital Teens 3 (grade 9) but you will need something faster and with more RAM in order to teach the design and multimedia tools in Digital Teens 4 and 5.
We have to follow the syllabus of the international exams which base their tests mainly on Windows, Office and Adobe tools, but because we also strongly believe that the technology environment at home, school and work that the 21st century citizen will face is widely varied, we try to “touch on” as many different types of technology tools as possible.
So, the main computer operating system and software applications that we teach now are Microsoft Windows 10 (1903) and Microsoft Office 365/2019. In primary grades, the rest are all free and open source apps. In secondary grades, you will need Adobe software for Digital Teens 4-6 which you can replace with free and open source alternatives.
To find a complete list of every required software, listed by book/level, click here (PDF doc: Software Requirementt)
The Second Edition of our Digital Kids, Digital Teens and eSkills series use Microsoft Windows 10 (1903) and Microsoft Office 2019 for the instructions and the screenshots.
For the first edition of our material we chose Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010 and not newer editions because through our research into the equipment and software that most schools used around the world we found out that the majority of school computer labs were still on Windows XP and Office 2007 (or even older) at that moment (2013). The features that we covered in Windows 7 were almost the same in Windows XP and Windows 8 and similarly if a computer lab used Office 2007 or Office 2013 the students would not have a problem following the instructions that we provided for Office 2010. This edition is still available for schools that do not have the budget to constantly update their computers and software applications.
By the way, our intention for the students is for them to develop the 21st century skills and learn how to use technology in the correct way to accomplish a task. We do not expect them to memorise buttons and menus that may completely change after some years. Imagine that a student in primary grade 5 now will attend a university course or will join the workforce after 9-10 years. With the speed that technology changes, we do not even know what hardware devices will be like, never mind the software tools. Students must learn how to be flexible and adapt to new working environments.
Of course! Every software application that we use in our series can be replaced with an open source one. In fact we strongly suggest that students work with different platforms and tools to fully acquire the necessary technology skills. Have a look [PDF doc: software requirements] at our suggested alternative software list for each grade and feel free to adapt our curriculum to your own needs.
The reason we focus on Windows is that although a Linux and OpenOffice/LibreOffice environment is completely free and should be the ideal environment for school use, we found that most schools and universities use a Microsoft environment in the lab and the international exams are mainly focused on Microsoft technologies. In case there is a school that uses Linux and OpenOffice/LibreOffice, they may still use our ICT series as all the main features that we cover are supported in an open source environment. In the “Other platforms” section at the end of each module, we show students how they can use OpenOffice/LibreOffice and many other tools (paid or free) and we strongly suggest that they use these alternative platforms and tools for a full experience of the latest technology.
We also provide the students with video tutorials with alternative tools such as OpenOffice on the student’s online platform.
If in the future there is another trend, we will develop our material accordingly following the new requirements.
In the Second Edition, we updated everything but, of course, it is impossible to keep up with all the changes as they happen and incorporate them into educational material for schools. For this reason, we also provide the students with additional ebooks, digital documents, and video tutorials with the latest editions of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office on the student’s online platform. This gives the teacher the opportunity to teach with the older tools or choose the latest ones based on what is available on the computer lab computers.
We skipped Windows 8/8.1, Windows 10 (First/Second/Anniversary Edition) and Office 2013/2016 entirely as we expected the later editions to have more significant changes in the User Interface and features. Windows 10 (1903) and Office 2019 are available now and we also have access to Technical Preview Editions that allow us to prepare the material needed for schools and universities that require the latest editions.
Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with the software you need for your computer lab. We suggest that you work with a technology company that has experience with education in order to help you with all your computer lab needs: computers, projector, internet connection and software. Feel free to ask us for advice. We will always be happy to help you find the right local partner.
Working with simulations of software environments is a learning method that was mainly used in the 80s and 90s. In that period, software licenses (especially for enterprise software) and the computers required were so expensive that it was impossible for a school or a training centre to pay for them. The software was doing simple things and the environment was changing very slowly between two software editions. Now technology changes so fast that we even switch between different tools across different platforms.
On the other hand, ICT skills should be practised on a computer with the actual software tools. It is impossible to get the real feeling by “working” in a controlled environment. We do not expect the students to memorise buttons and menus but to understand how they will use a software application and its alternatives as real tools even when they change in the near or far future.
If the tablets run Windows, it is like having desktop PC with Windows. If they are iPads or Android tablets, do not worry. This is not a problem. Although in the student books we describe specific software platforms and tools, the students may work on different ones. Our main focus is on practising their ICT skills and not on memorizing how a specific app works. Feel free to ask us for suggestions on the software you may use on tablets. At the end of each module (Other platforms), you can also have a look at alternative tools for tablets.
You don’t need one computer per student. Most of the activities that the students will have to work with are designed as group activities. It needs some more work from your side as a teacher to split them into groups that can work efficiently and monitor their work properly.
It depends on the time that the students have available in the computer lab at school. If the time in the computer lab is enough to work with the activities needed to practice their ICT skills, it is OK. If not, then the students must have access to a computer at home – a PC or tablet. We want the students to actually practice their ICT skills on a computer.