|REPORT CARD |
|Overall Rating:||5 Stars|
|Ease of Use:||A|
Company: Realityworks, Inc., 2709 Mondovi Road, P.O. Box 929, Eau Claire, WI 54702-0929; (800) 830-1416.
Online at: www.realityworks.com or www.teachingpersonalfinance.com; Twitter: @RealityworksInc.
Price: TimeMAPS is available to school districts through a 1-year site license. The cost is $999 per building per year, but pricing can be modified for small and large districts with discounts for multiyear site licenses.
Audience: TimeMAPS was developed for students and teachers in grades 9–12.
Format: TimeMAPS is a Windows-based, interactive, digital learning system with internet and software components. It includes the Installation CD, a Curriculum CD, an online (internet-based) testing system, and the Life Simulator. A student resource CD that can be purchased separately is intended to extend learning outside the classroom.
System Requirements: Successful use requires a 500MHZ or greater Pentium/AMD processor, minimum 128MB RAM, 150MB hard driver space, a CD-ROM drive, and a printer, which is optional but useful. The operating system needs to be Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 or higher. Adobe Flash 6.0 or greater and Adobe Reader are also needed.
Description: TimeMAPS is a money management and life skills program, a complete course or a supplement, intended to teach “personal finance literacy” defined as the knowledge needed to make responsible financial decisions. The program uses exercises, examples, graphs, and other material to create a visual representation, involving students by giving them chances to experiment with financial decisions and teaching them how to improve the results.
Installation: I installed this on a newer Windows machine. Installation is standard, intuitive, and easy following on-screen instructions and printed material included with the software. Installation Rating: A
Content/Features: TimeMAPS includes a huge amount of material, especially when all three CDs are purchased. There are 13 themes with 54 personal finance lessons and more than 140 interactive examples and exercises. This material is supported with charts, tables, and graphs and a library of more than 700 financial terms defined in context. It includes a “Life Simulator,” a career exploration of 1,182 job titles in 23 areas of interest, and annually updated government data.
Giving each lesson 50 minutes produces 45 hours worth of material for a one-semester class, leaving 30 hours for activities and projects. Included activities can take 30 minutes to 2 hours, and suggested projects can take 4–12 hours. All of this is supported with more than 3,000 pages of printable material, including lesson outlines, teacher guides, worksheets, crosswords, word searches, quizzes, reviews, activities, and articles.
The 13 themes include an introduction, basic life planning, money basics, career paths, taxes and payroll deductions, banking, living on a budget, spending decisions, investing, automobiles, houses and homes, insurance, and retirement planning. Students need to learn about all of these important areas.
Use of TimeMAPS begins with the Installation CD, which contains the classroom software, comprising 13 themes and 54 lessons, supported with 58 interactive exercises and 90 interactive examples. These contain charts, graphs, and other visuals with options for changing inputs.
The Installation CD installs the basic program, which enables users to choose themes and lessons, exercises, examples, or the Life Simulator; users can also get help from menus at the top of the opening screen. The Life Simulator is a series of interactive charts that enable students to fill in and change information and then perform calculations about various situations.
The included Curriculum CD brings together resources instructors need with preparation and in-class material for each lesson. Placing this CD in the CD-ROM drive starts a program called the Curriculum Resource Center. It has a menu that helps teachers quickly find and print needed materials.
The Curriculum CD includes teacher and help guides, one- to two-page lesson outlines, and a PowerPoint overview for introducing lessons. Support materials such as worksheets, crosswords and term searches, quizzes, reviews, activities and student projects, templates, graphs, and forms are included as well.
TimeMAPS is complete with these two CDs, but a third can be purchased in addition. The Student Resource CD has an installable version of TimeMAPS for use on a home computer and a version that can be used on a library computer or other computers without actually having to install the software. It also includes a progress inventory and other printable support material such as crosswords, quizzes, and reviews.
A fourth, extremely useful component of TimeMAPS is the Online Testing System for paperless testing and grading. Teachers can quickly create, schedule, and administer tests or surveys on the internet by using the default questions, or they can write or edit their own true/false, matching, multiple choice, or essay questions. Up to four versions of the same questions can be generated to combat cheating. Students can take the test online and immediately see graded results (except for essay questions). Teachers get an email notification of student grades and can view an overall summary.
All in all, I encountered no prob-lems using TimeMAPS and have only one criticism: Computer-based training materials run a fine line between being too entertaining or too much like an electronic textbook. The entertainment can interfere with learning, and being digital and interactive doesn’t necessarily prevent material from being too dry, especially to today’s students. TimeMAPS treads the line carefully, but it may benefit from the addition of animations or movies and voice.
In general, TimeMAPS is well-thought-out, well-constructed, and thorough. It offers a number of advantages over textbook-based instruction. Lessons are more understandable and enjoyable to students who prefer digital activities with the active learning and problem-solving approach. Less preparation time and paperwork are required for teachers, and the program aides integrating technology into the classroom. It has ample instructor and student resources and can be used as a complete course or a supplement. Content/Features Rating: A
Ease of Use: TimeMAPS has enough components to require some time to learn to use it effectively, especially for teachers. However, the programs are easy to use and lots of documentation is included to guide users. Ease of Use Rating: A
Product Support: In addition to excellent online support and a large amount of support material available on the CDs, product support is available at (800) 830-1416 during business hours or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Product Support Rating: A
Recommendation: TimeMAPS helps students learn essential skills for conducting their financial lives that often aren’t taught in many homes and schools. These are skills that affect their life, education, property, savings, and more. I definitely recommend its use in at least one semester course that all K–12 students should take. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Charles Doe is a 39-year teacher, including 10 years as elementary media specialist in Hastings Area Schools in Hastings, Mich. For the past 12 years, he has written articles and reviews for MultiMedia & Internet@Schools and has been involved with computers in education for 20 years. Contact him at email@example.com.