Last week I finally received a copy of Gold Advanced classroom software. The classroom software that most schools are equipped with are lifesavers and I love them (okay, most of them!). Having the option to write, highlight, quickly play the audio and open up the tape scripts really makes life easier and being without these is one of the trickiest things about teaching online and being freelance – I just can’t afford the software!
Some of the schools I have worked for have online access to books and they’re almost as good as the software, but without them I’m constantly scanning, uploading, editing pages from my books. Anyway, the good news is that I stumbled across GOLD Active Teach on Heath books and it was such a good price that I had to snap it up!
I’ll keep it brief (really, Claire?). Here’s my review after 6 lessons of using it.
My first thoughts were, “Wow! This is so old!” and honestly, I suppose it is. The look and feel of it is quite outdated and it’s not the same as some of most recent software that’s available. I know it happens, but this has a 90s feel to it and takes a bit of getting used to if you’re fussy like me.
Design: It’s basic, simple and obvious as to what is where. You’re presented with a table of contents, making it very easy to see your main units, the teacher’s notes and all of the additional materials. If you choose to use a unit ‘extra’, such as a quiz or game, it opens in a new window so that you don’t lose your page in the book. You can input the answers on the page, or sometimes it opens in a new window.
It doesn’t lag (that I’ve noticed) in standard mode and this is definitely a plus for me.
Ease of use: It really is simple. Everything you need is right in front of you, or just a click of a button away. The only thing I find strange now is that I’m so used to copy and pasting sections from the scanned documents so that I can work on one question at a time, and now I have the entire page in front of me. This is not a disadvantage in any way, but a personal opinion and stems from me not having the software previously.
With the software I can zoom in and out of, easily move between pages and quickly display the tape script or answers. It’s great, but I’m getting used to a new way of presenting my lessons. It’s extremely easy to use.
One thing I have noticed, just as I was about to hit ‘post’ on this blog, was that you can toggle between standard and whiteboard view. In whiteboard view you can highlight the text and write on the page but I did feel as though there was a slight delay here. It wasn’t a big issue though.
Content: It’s exactly what you get in the book but with the additional materials (see below). I’d say the content is mostly relevant and appropriate, and there is plenty to expand on. The software presents the materials clearly and the images are of decent quality. Also, the games, quizzes, unit and progress tests are a big plus.
Audio quality: It’s great. The audio files (so far) are clear and I have no complaints. There is no fuzziness or background noise, the audio doesn’t lag and it starts promptly. You can play the audio files alone, or choose to play them with the tape script in a new window.
Extra materials: There are loads. I was surprised, as my teacher’s book doesn’t have as much as the software so this is a big plus for me. The only thing is that I keep forgetting they’re now available to me, but I suppose I need some more time to get used to it all.
There are interactive quizzes, little games, photocopiable worksheets, unit and progress tests.
Summary: For £35, this software is absolutely worth every penny. Not only does it contain the book content, all of the audio, answers and tape scripts but also a lot of extra materials, tests and quizzes for you to use with your students. The software runs smoothly, it’s easy to use and I am very glad that I bought it.
If you’re teaching C1 / Cambridge Advanced students then I definitely recommend using this software.
They do have an updated version (of both the books and the software) but I’m perfectly happy with the 2015 version and can include extra materials as and when I need to. You can view the Pearson catalogue here.
Have you used this software? Do you use something else? Let me know in the comments!