I refer to textbook specific software as the software that came with the textbook purchased during textbook adoption. It often entails some form of test/quiz generating software and lesson planning software. Pearson’s TestGen is an example of this. Some of the test generating software is both for teachers to create tests and for students to take tests. They can sometimes do basic management of the students submissions as well. They can be nice because they generate tests directly from the textbook that you are using as well as lesson plans linked to the standards from the book.
Most of this type of software is fairly easy to use, but it often requires a computer (not a Chromebook) to run. It does take time to learn it and to train students on it. So, if you use them, use them for many assignments, not just one assignment.
Access for Students and Parents
This can be odd. Some can run through an LMS, (Pearson has one), but are often stand-alone. This can make them a little awkward to use, especially for students. It may take some tech support for students to access them.
Updating and Modifying
Once you learn how to use them, they are generally fairly straightforward to update and modify things. The tests and quizzes, though, can only be modified using their software. Word and Docs cannot touch those files.
Questionable. Since they are often made by the textbook manufacturer, not Google or Microsoft, they are generally not that great of quality. As such, they are not updated very often and have strange bugs and quirks. Since they are tied to textbook adoption, you may not get an update for 7 years, which guarantees obsolescence for computer stuff.
They are part of purchasing the textbook, but minimal relative to the cost of buying a bunch of books. They are, though, paid for and owned by the school.
Despite longevity issues and some other problems, I do use them when teaching a class that follows a textbook. The test/quiz generating software is just so easy and tied right to the book. It is also easy to make multiple versions of a test. I do, though, fight the software towards the end of the adoption cycle (7-year old software is really buggy) and will try to export the tests so that I can modify them in Word when needed and to have a backup copy not dependent on their software.