Reading Tracks is the first in a series of educational games designed and written for the Irish market. The company behind the programme is CDGA Education and Training. In a nutshell, this is a 25 unit spelling scheme with 6 eBooks. Each unit and eBook have activities associated with them.
When you load Reading Tracks 1 on to your computer, you will be met with a title screen. When it finally goes away, you are asked for your name to enter. Once you get past this, you enter the main section of the programme, where you have the option to select one of 25 spelling units or to enter a further section where you will have access to 6 eBooks. We’ll start with these.
The 6 eBooks are a mixture of fiction and non-fiction stories. One can load them up on a big screen such as an IWB and use it for whole class reading. The content of the books is good and I’d put it around 2nd class level. One can choose to have the book read to you from some professional sounding man. I find him a little too professional – he sounds like he would be more suited to selling insurance on the radio rather than reading to children. The graphics are very simple and the animation of turning pages is a nice touch, if a little bit slow. Once you’ve had your fill of reading, you can do some activities such as cloze tests. Again, these are very simple looking but the content is good.
Moving on to the spelling units, it’s difficult for me to see any reason for the units to be divided the way they are as there is no option in the main screen to see the spelling lists. You have to work out what spellings are being tested by completing the activities. There are a lot of activities, all of which are well made and engaging, if a little simple looking. I tried out units 1 and 18 and played most of the games, including a multiple Choice game, Hangman, A-Z order an Matching Pairs – which I don’t think need much explaining.
Probably the strongest feature of the game is the ability for it to store records of what users have been doing. Whenever a game is played, it logs the answers given and the problems that the user might be having. This is useful for assessment purposes.
Overall, I think Reading Tracks is let down by its graphics and navigation. With a more professional design, this could have been as good as Learning Horizons’ other literacy software, “Sounds to Words”. It is also let down by simple omissions such as being able to see the spelling list or the ability to skip to a particular page in the eBooks. With a lick of paint, this could be a really good product as the content itself is strong. I would encourage the writers of this program to consider a second version of Reading Tracks with professional graphic designers.
Last Update: August 22, 2017