Is School Writing the best Windows 8 education app?

Demografix is a Queensland-based education software developer producing great apps for schools and students – and they have just produced a Windows 8.1 version of their best-selling School Writing app. And working with them has been fascinating, as they have found extra capabilities in Windows 8 that allowed them to add features on top of the iPad version. And I’ve also learnt that they have to create 28 different plain and cursive school fonts because different countries (and, in Australian, different states!) teach their children to handwrite differently*.

School Writing for Windows 8 - screenshot

The Windows 8 version has been designed to work with either touch screens, or with devices with a stylus (yep, that radical idea of teaching students to write letters by holding a pen rather than just tracing on screen with their finger).

And in even better news, Australian education institutions can get the Windows 8.1 version for free through using a special code in the software. The trial version allows you to test the app using a few letters (abc), numbers (123), one Words and one Whiteboard lesson. If you are School, TAFE or Uni and you want the app for free, then download the Trial version and enter your education email into the app for a free redeem code to be emailed to you. Saving $7.99 a student/user…

So at a great price of ‘free’, with full pen support, it’s certainly got to be a nominee for the best Windows 8 education app so far…


School Writing for Windows 8.1

A learn to write app, containing the approved handwriting fonts that are taught in your school.

School Writing includes 28 individual plain and cursive letters for use in each Australian state – NSW, QLD, SA, VIC & TAS -  New Zealand, South Africa, UK. The app also features Zaner-Bloser and D’Nealian styles used for learning handwriting in American schools.

Using this app, students are able to intuitively trace pre-handwriting shapes, uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, words or whiteboard images. School Writing enables hearing and seeing the letters, words and numbers along with customisable associated images and sounds. School Writing allows a student to easily and quickly respond to the lessons by means of written and/or audio recordings.

With the option of tracing accuracy turned on, students are being rewarded with a star depending on their level of accuracy. They are given three attempts before proceeding with learning of next letter or number.

The teacher tracing feature enables audio recording for the letter sounds, changing the letter images and recording tracing instructions or individual letter phonetics.

The ‘Whiteboard’ section allows a teacher to draw or import images along with unique audio instructions for the purposes of tracing or interaction. Students can trace and record the audio answers.

The app enables creation, saving and sharing your own word lessons, profiles and customisations to suit your curriculum, while providing complete control over the lessons’ management, the app and the student profiles.

  • A choice of 28 US, UK, South Africa, New Zealand or Australia approved plain and cursive school fonts.
  • A choice of 5 types of lined guidelines or no guidelines.
  • A choice of 3 tracing tactics – connecting the dots, tracing over the letter/number or tracing within the outlines with the starting points and visible numbered sequence of strokes.
  • A choice of 4 levels of colored pencil’s thickness, which is usable for drawing and coloring.
  • Customise the default sounds allowing the students to listen the pronunciation and the phonetic sounds that you teach.
  • Customise the default images. Students can find their own images as an assignment itself.
  • Customised the teacher’s tracing. This allows the teacher to change the sequence of strokes to suit your students’ needs.
  • Replaying feature of the student’s last trace to check that proper stroke sequence.
  • A ‘Reset’ counter which allows permanent recording of the number of times each letter and number has been traced.
  • Creation and management of the multiple profiles for all the students in a class with the ability to see the exact number of the lessons being completed by each student.
  • Automatic (optional) emailing of students’ work to the teacher once the work has been completed.

There are three versions of School Writing in the Windows Store (each with the correct fonts for the country):

School Writing for Windows 8.1 for Australia/New Zealand

School Writing for Windows 8.1 for the UK

School Writing for Windows 8.1 for the USA

* Yep, that’s right. Although there’s a national education system, it seems that it’s necessary to teach children in each state to handwrite differently. So go to Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and New South Wales, and you’ll be taught to write your beginners, and then your cursive, fonts differently. No wonder it’s so stressful bringing in an Australian National Curriculum…