Monday, November 23, 2009

Module #3 - Software

The assistive technology software I broswed this week was very impressive. Watching students use the iCommunicator tool was so cool! It's amazing how one device can change a person's world. Its also interesting to note that disabled persons are always trying to keep up with the latest technologies to better assist them. This must be costly and perhaps even tiresome, but exciting, as well.

I was aware of certain voice activated and voice recognition tools, but what I found most impressive was that they are fully integrated into commonplace programs like Microsoft Office. This quality really levels the playing field.

I enjoyed exploring all the software. The Wurzeil 3000 was impressive. I wasn't able to download it, but I watched multiple tutorials. Its amazing to think one small device can transcribe text so quickly and effectively and then the software can allow the user to manipulate it so easily and in so many ways. I did wonder how long it might take for a teacher to upload an entire chapter or more into the Wurzeil 3000, but the benefits might make it worth it.

Inspiration is a program I used long ago and never forgot. I have long been promoting the program to my technology director. Downloading the 30 day trial allowed me to play with it again and see how much it has improved since I used it last. It's a terrific program: user friendly, multiple applications, meets a need that Microsoft doesn't offer.

Here is one simple and effective way I could use Inspiration in my classroom. Each semester I complete a research project with 8th grade students on the an influential African American. The students follow the Big 6 Research method. The fifth step is to synthesize the information collected. This step can be challenging to demonstrate, but with Inspiration it would be much easier. The students could use Inspiration to diagram the categories of information they have collected. I would create a model for them to pattern their work after. Creating this graphic organizer will be the ultimate tool in preparing the students to compose the rought draft of their research paper.

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