www.kurzweiledu.comRetail price: Starts at $395.
By Carol S. Holzberg, Ph.D.
Kurzweil 3000 (version 12 for Windows) is a multifunction tool incorporating media-rich support for meaningful self-directed student-centered learning. Integrated tools include text-to-speech, the ability to scan printed documents and convert them to editable characters, a word processor and graphic organizer, and support for each stage of the writing process from brainstorming through outlining, drafting, revising, and proofreading.
Quality and Effectiveness: Kurzweil is a tool for all students, not just struggling readers, English-language learners, and students with disabilities. All students can benefit from its built-in English and Spanish picture dictionaries, which have more than 1,300 illustrations and photos, human-voice pronunciations from the American Heritage Dictionary, foreign-language-translation tools, a spell checker, and a talking calculator.
Ease of Use: Those familiar with Kurzweil 3000 will find the user interface virtually unchanged except for four new buttons: Web, Translate, Picture, and Definition. Help files include several how-to videos.
Creative Use of Technology: In addition to readaloud access to electronic text, Kurzweil offers a Study Skills toolbar with four colored highlighters (yellow, green, blue, and pink) to help with reading. The toolbar also includes the option of adding a footnote so you can attach typed notes, a bookmark tool for marking a place in a document for quick access, and a hyperlink for linking directly to a Web page. Kurzweil has an add-in toolbar for Firefox that enables users to activate Kurzweil reading supports (textto- speech and dictionary definitions and pronunciations) directly from the browser.
Suitability for Use in a School Env ironment: This multipurpose read-write application supports students of all ages and abilities. Use it as a simple word processor or as a program with a rich assortment of customizable tools for read-aloud, process writing, word prediction, and language translation. It works with TWAIN compliant scanners, allowing you to scan printed materials and convert them to editable digital text for further manipulations. Version 12 no longer includes printed copies of user guides or other documentation. MathML support is available only for Internet Explorer (not Safari, Firefox, or Opera), but even within Internet Explorer, the Math ML Player doesn’t always work, and it sometimes makes the browser crash. There is no support for the ePub XML - based file standard, a format supported by iPad and other electronic readers.
The Kurzweil 3000 collection of tools is a powerful application that provides all students with digital options like dictionary definitions, synonyms, pronunciations, audio notes, outlines, and study tools for gaining more control over the learning environment. If price were no object, our district would purchase many more copies of Kurzweil Professional Color and Kurzweil LearnStation, given the application’s built-in tools for student-centered self-directed learning.
¦ This version adds support for NIMAS formatted digital books and Google Translator, allowing users to translate text from one language to another.
¦ It also includes a Read the Web option for Internet Explorer (in Firefox you must install a Read the Web toolbar add-on), enabling users to read Webpage text aloud.