April 16, 1986 3 min read

The number of computers in the nation’s classrooms has surpassed 1.2 million, according to the latest survey by the New York-based market research firm TALMIS Inc.

TALMIS projects that the average school will purchase 14 new software programs this year, an increase of 15 percent over last year.

Anne Wujcik, senior analyst at TALMIS, said: “Interest is high in applications programs, but we see a growing demand for a comprehensive product that closely follows and supplements the skills taught in the everyday classroom program.”

“It is clear that if these needs are not met,” she added, “computer use in the schools will not move much beyond the level at which it now stands.”

The International Business Machines Corporation recently announced it will market 35 new educational-software programs under its own name, highlighting its major effort to capture a larger share of the school market.

Since its inception last May, I.S.M.'S educational-marketing arm has attempted to counter the perceived lack of instructional software for the company’s PC and PCjr. About a hundred educational-software programs developed by third-party vendors have since earned the right to wear the I.B.M. logo.

The new programs include 25 developed by WICAT Systems Inc. to teach mathematics, language arts, and reading comprehension, eight additional offerings for I.B.M.'S biology, earth-science and physics series, and two that form the basis for a new series on scientific reasoning.

Meanwhile, Apple Computer continues to benefit from the fact that educational-software producers generally develop products for its machines first, because there are more of them in schools than any other brand of computer.

Of the 281 educational-software programs identified by Education News Service in its 1986 edition of Only the Best: The Discriminating Software Guide for Preschool-Grade 12, fully 96 percent run on the Apple n line, while only 24 percent run on the I.B.M. PC or PCjr.

Th qualify for inclusion in this annual directory, software programs must receive a minimum of two “excellent” ratings or one “excellent” and two “good” ratings from any of the 22 leading software-evaluation services. (See table below for a list of the eight programs identified by E.N.S. as receiving the highest number of top ratings in the past two years.)

Only 3 percent of the 9,500 educational-software programs now available meet these qualifications and have had no negative evaluations from any of the rating services.

Researchers for the study said “the quantity of education-software programs is huge” and “the quality varies from bad to mediocre to excellent, with most programs falling far short of what most evaluators would call superior”

Copies of the 1986 edition are available for $19.95 (prepaid) from Education News Service, P.O. Box 1789, Carmichael, Calif. 95609, or call (916) 483-6159 for more information.

Three programs by Sunburst Communications Inc.--Geometric Supposer: Triangles, Magic Slate and Muppet Learning Keys--were named among the ten best educational programs in Classroom Computer Learning magazine’s 1986 Software of the Year Awards.

Other software garnering top honors included: Bank Street MusicWriter and Bank Street Storybook, by Mindscapes Inc.; Cardiovascular Fitness Lab, by HRM Software; ChipWits, by Brainpower Inc.; The Newsroom, by Springboard Software Inc.; The Other Side, by Tom Snyder Productions Inc.; and The Voyage of the Mimi, by Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

An updated version of the Compendium of Health Education Programs Available for Use in Schools, produced under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is now available in an on-line data base or in a printed version.

The Compendium contains detailed information about more than 125 health-education curriculum programs, including staff contacts in districts where they are currently used.

For more information, write the Office of School Health and Special Projects, Division of Health Education, Center for Health Promotion and Education, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Ga. 30333.

A version of this article appeared in the April 16, 1986 edition of Education Week