Review: Wizteach (Qwizdom)

Every so often, a piece of software comes along which tries to steal the crown from Promethean’s Activ Software series.  Easyteach from RM was the last challenger and it wasn’t bad.  It had many advantages over the Promethean software – with lots of add-ons for maths, phonics, science and even a dance mat!  However, although it looked a lot better than any of the other options out there, it just didn’t look as good as Promethean’s software.  The resource library graphics were jagged-edged and it looked a little clunky.  Having said this, it was good enough to be packaged along with lots of IWBs including the Touch IT in Ireland.

Wizteach is the latest piece of IWB software to try and steal the crown from Promethean.  Its initial toolbar is amazingly compact and it fits snugly into a corner of the screen where one can access its various tools.  The tools that I tried were the Drawing, Media, Maths and Literacy tools.  When you select any of these tools, the screen fills up with floating toolbars.

The drawing toolbar is a fairly standard affair with pencils, highlighters, erasers, lines, shapes and the usual standard IWB tools.  The media tool,  (I don’t really understand why it’s separate), allows screen grabs and video capture, which again are fairly standard tools these days.

The real magic begins when you select the vast array of maths tools.  Because there are so many, they are divided into the strands of the UK maths curriculum, which are similar to the Irish curriculum.  Most of these tools are simply Flash-based utilities and very few of them blew me away.  The only tools that I  really liked were the “Number” tools.  Essentially, with one of the tools, you can create fantastic interactive number problems. The program automatically joins up digits to make numbers.  For example if I drag a digit 4 and follow it up by dragging a digit 5 beside it, the programme automatically turns it into a 45.  Now I can drag a symbol, for example, a plus sign.  This now joins the equation.  Adding another number in a similar way, (e.g. 36), lengthens the equation.  Once I drag the “equals” sign to the equation, a blank answer box is automatically created.  If I click on this, the answer box automatically fills in the correct answer to the equation.  There are a number of symbols – certainly plenty for primary level.

Another tool I liked was the number line tool.  It allowed me to create different types of interactive number lines.  I also liked the function machine and number grid creator.  I wasn’t fussed on the rest of the maths tools.  However, having said that, there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with them either.

The literacy tools and games were also fine.  The games were:

  1. Word Builder- Pick letters to form words using the adjacent letters.
  2. Word Hunt – Search for the word with the given meaning. The word can read in any direction. Get more points for quicker answers but you lose points for showing hints.
  3. Mix Up – Rearrange the letters to form a valid word. You can get the meaning of the word by clicking the hint button.
  4. Word Scramble – Arrange the letters to form words. You do not need to use all the letters but words must be at least 3 letters long. Use the mouse to drag the letters or type them into the box.
I got very addicted to the Word Builder game and I can see how children would enjoy these word games.  I wasn’t as impressed by the tools.  The only ones I could see working out of the four at primary level were the “word and sentence builder” and the “Word Vault”.  I had a frustrating time dragging and dropping bits of words and letters and gave up after a short time.
If I were a company selling IWBs and I wanted to package a piece of software to work with it, I would choose Wizteach over Easyteach, just about.  Wizteach looks a lot better than Easyteach but unfortunately it does not match Promethean’s ActivInspire for quality.  I understand Wizteach is in constant development and there are new toolbars coming out soon, which will be positive additions.  However, Promethean need not be quaking in their boots yet as this is another IWB software package which won’t be stealing its crown.

Last Update: August 22, 2017  

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