The Writing Center - School Edition (Software Review) (Word Processing and Desktop Publishing Educational Software) (Evaluation)

Article excerpt

Hardware: Macintosh (1Mb). Emphasis: Writing, desktop publishing. Grade level" 2-adult. Publisher: The Learning Company, 6493 Kaiser Drive, Fremont, CA 94555; (800) 852-2255. Package includes: Four disks plus backups, user's manual, teacher's guide and curriculum materials. Price: $129.95.

The Writing Center is an easy-to-use tool designed to introduce students to basic word processing and desktop publishing, design, and layout skills. On opening a new file, students choose among three general layout styles (each of which can be modified), giving access to a wide range of column formats. Using the word processor, thesaurus, and spell checker for writing and editing text, and graphics features, to place, resize, crop, and move pictures, students can create documents such as newsletters, awards, and reports. They can import ASCII text files as well as files from The learning Company's Children's Writing and Publishing Center, and they can either choose from the 200 pictures that come with the program (available in color or black and white)or import PICT graphic files. The binder packaged with the school edition of The Writing Center includes both the software manual and a teacher's guide with student activities and blackline masters. In addition, there is a separate report-writing guide directed to students.

Strengths

* Binder and report writing guide: The Learning Company has traditionally excelled in the quality of support materials included in school editions of software. The software manual and teacher's guide in The Writing Center are particularly helpful to teachers who are novices at using technology in their classrooms. The booklet "Getting It All Together: The Complete Guide to Writing a Report" would be especially useful to middle school and high school students.

* Ease of use: The Writing Center is simple to operate. The upper elementary students who worked with it during testing had no difficulty applying previously learned word processing skills when using this program. …