Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What is there to be excited about


Then let's move onto what can we get excited about.

How about a new product from Crick Software? I am so bummed that I didn't get to beta test this product for them. The WriteOnline tool is all a tight little talking word processor, word prediction and their Word Bar. Honestly, I love Crick products. One of my all time favorite products from Crick is the Word Bar. I use this with my niece for her frequently asked "how to spell words" and giving her a functional word bank to cover the topic that she is writing about. Now I haven't seen the software so I cannot sing the praises of the software. I can tell you from the screenshots that the talking word processor has the look of MS Word. You have to look very hard to realize that it isn't MS Word you are looking at. The layout for the word predication opens as a toolbar on the side of the screen. I would like to know if I can pick where the word prediction is positioned or if I can make the word prediction follow my cursor. There are pros and cons to each of these. My guess is that the word prediction has been improved, it was a decent tool prior so I am sure it is going to be up there in with WordQ and Co:Writer. From the description offered on the website it looks like they have given you many options for different levels of your writers. I am excited about the possibility of offering this tool as a possibility for the UDL toolkits in school districts. The next big question would be can you purchase the word prediction as a stand alone for students that just need that tool. I can't say enough nice things about Word Bar. It is one of those tools that never gets talked about but it is a great product for the student that doesn't need word prediction but does need support with word retrieval, topic specific words and the personal word wall. It is just enough support for some students. The biggest question that I have is will this product be available for stand alone machines without internet access. I like the fact that companies are moving toward internet portals for applications. However, there is still a need for stand alone products because there are districts that do not have wireless access or internet access in general. I know it is hard to believe but there are students that do not have internet access at home so even though the student can access these tools over the internet it is difficult to do if you don't have that tool. I am hoping that Crick considers the possibility of having this writing tool for individual stand alone machines that doesn’t require internet access. Even if they don't, I am still excited about the possibility of this tool.

Boardmaker Plus Player is something I am excited about. It is something that has been needed for a long time. I am glad that Mayer-Johnson took this route for parents and classrooms. I think they may still find that the sales of Plus decreases and the number of players increase. I can see districts purchasing 2 copies of plus but 20 copies of the player. At first glance you think the price is steep for a player at $79 but you can install the Plus Player on one computer per computer disc allowing students to use the activities you create without having to worry about your Boardmaker Plus disc getting ruined.

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