AT Software Review:
For LS589 Cohort Students, a good software rubric can be found as Figure 4.1 in the text, Technology and the School Library: A Comprehensive Guide for Media Specialists and Other Educators by Odin Jurkowski.
There are elements of a rubric that I cannot adequately comment on since I have not been able to use these software items in classroom settings (I’ve only done some practice with the trial versions), but some of the software elements to look at and evaluate when making selections include: Instructional Design, Presentation Design, Ease of Use, Content, Motivation, and Technical Quality.
Review and Rubric for AT Software
Name: Inspiration 8 for Mac and Windows Grades 6-12
Company: Inspiration Software, Inc.
Price: $69.00 single license/ $310.00 for 5 licenses
Free Trial: yes, 30 days
Features: Organizational tools, concept maps, webs, multimedia tools, drag and drop, spell check, comprehensive symbol/graphic library
Pros: Teacher resources, NCLB integration, Dictionary/Thesaurus, Symbol library, Keyword search feature for symbols
Cons: Interface can be tedious, toolbars can be confusing
Name: Kurzweil 3000 Mac v. 4
Company: Kurzweil Educational Systems
Price: Kurzweil 3000 Black and White for 1 Teacher License and 4 LearnStations is $1995.00
Free Trial: yes
Features: Creation and delivery of electronic documents; documents can be scanned; software uses OCR Technology (optical character recognition)
Pros: can access virtually any information whether printed, electronic, or web based
Name: InfoEyes (iVocalize Software and QuestionPoint Software)
Company: OCLC, Maine State Library is a participating organization
Features: Online chat, virtual reference
Pros: Available through public libraries
Cons: Strange and cluttered website
Price: $6,499 for iCommunicator Kit, $4999 for Software Solo
Features: Communication software for deaf and hearing impaired; provides speech-to-text, Speech/Text to Computer Generated Voice, Speech/Text to Video Sign Language; 30,000 word signing library, Dragon NaturallySpeaking for voice recognition.
Pros: Customizable settings for users; comprehensive, the “Cadillac” of software for deaf and hearing impaired users.
The following suggestion about book clubs came from the LD Online site and I wanted to highlight this for future use:
“Students who have print-related disabilities or special needs may be able to participate more easily in book clubs that include titles which are available in alternate formats. Since the book club facilitator may be unaware of this option, she or he may want to refer to the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic for a list of age and content appropriate books that are also easily available in an alternate format. Not only will students benefit from enhanced literacy skills, book discussions can help to foster social, communication, and analytical skills.”