Friday, November 24, 2006


See comments for review.

1 comment:

Gretchen said...

This software is purported as educational software that helps students advance their knowledge of various systems, enforcing various concepts such as cause and effect, by using modeling software. This program, a product of GoKnow Inc., is one of many similar modeling programs.

The immediate problem that I encountered when working with this software is that I have a Mac; while the site has a Mac download package available, it does not work on the newer operating systems. Fortunately, I was able to download it on a Windows machine, which was significantly easier. The only criticism that I have of this process was that many files were downloaded onto the desktop.

Once the program was opened, I was offered the selection of several models I could manipulate. I was confused; I could not find a tutorial in the program, nor was one included in any of the many files that were downloaded to my desktop. The “Help” menu offered only information about the software, but not how to use it.

I spent quite a bit of time working with the program, but did not encounter much success. I started dragging items into the main window, as was prompted to name them. I was given no guidance as to how to name them or what significance was associated with each item.

Once I had several objects, I could assign variables to go with them. Again, my assignment was completely random, and I could not determine any sort of significance to them. Once all the variables were assigned, I could establish the relationships between the objects and their variables. I did find this interesting; upon assigning a variable, a graph popped up that notes the relationships between the various objects. It explained that if variable A increased, so would B and therefore C, depending on the relationship. This was accompanied by a graph that provided a visual stimulus.

At this point, we can run the model. I can only conclude that I was doing something wrong, because despite my best efforts, I could not get anything to actually happen. I know that the model was “running”, because time was going by on the clock, but nothing was actually changing, not the graphs, or anything else. I could not find anywhere to find data, so I was not certain if anything was actually happening.

I will trust the judgment of other educators that this software has an educational purpose. However, based on my experience, I could not even begin to determine how this could possibly be used. It appears that the producer of the software is not particularly interested in promoting this product, as it is not even listed on their main site. If you search for the product specifically, you can find the listing, along with the download. Purchased versions of the program are also available, with more advanced and in-depth versions of various models, ranging in price from $50-80 per license. Perhaps this version is the trial, and the actual purchased version is far more effective.