In Ireland, we use a lot of technology resources from other countries. Our market is tiny with only around 3,500 schools so a company selling a product for €100 is hardly going to make a profit after paying costs if they don’t sell to hundreds of schools. We’re lucky that the Irish primary curriculum has a lot of similarities to the UK one. With this in mind, we do make use of some great pieces of software – Wordshark, Literacy Activity Builder and 2Simple Software are god examples and all are written for the UK curriculum but just as effective for the Irish one.
2Simple are the company behind a new web site, Purple Mash, which essentially puts most of the 2Simple Software online in full. Favourites such as 2Paint, 2Animate and Simple City are all there. I had a go at playing with the software online and was mightily impressed. It’s easily as good as the version that comes on CD.
For those of you who haven’t heard of 2Simple, it is a set of award winning programs that are simple yet powerful in the primary school classroom. Programs include ones that allow children to draw pictures on the screen before captioning them, solving problems and tell stories using technology. There are dozens of activities and they all have a really simple interface but colourful enough to make children enthusiastic. Purple Mash simply places all this software online so you no longer have to buy the CDs separately, (which used to cost around €40-50 per CD).
In terms of usability, Purple Mash is brilliant. It contains all the great programmes from the CDs in one place and it’s really easy to print off and save children’s work.
The only issue I would have is Purple Mash’s price. They are currently holding a special offer of £500 + VAT for a one year licence, which I think is very high. If you have a school of 100 pupils (and many Irish schools don’t even have that amount), that’s the equivalent of €7 per child per year for this service. I think this is quite steep even for such a good service and one could probably buy individual CDs cheaper as once off payments.
Essentially, this is the bottom line for Purple Mash. It’s a brilliant product. It’s also an innovative product in that it is completely online. However, Irish schools receive no funding for software or services and I would be doubtful that they would be able to invest such an amount of money per year into a service like this. It’s a pity really because the product is excellent. While I would recommend the Purple Mash service as a service, it would need to reduce its charge by at least 75% before I could safely say it was excellent value for money.