Co:Writer 6 enables students who struggle with writing and spelling to work at their own pace. The latest version teams with a companion application, like a word processor or Web browser, to help users build and write correct sentences.PROS: Flexibility and support for guided independent work are key features of this latest version. The word window is always active and displays on top of the companion program’s window, so it’s easy to see recommended words as you compose an email or blog or write a document in your word processor. Students having difficulty with written words can receive audio feedback, because the program optionally reads word choices and completed sentences. Co:Writer will also read aloud menus and dialogbox contents. In addition to three main dictionary options, there are dozens of topic dictionaries from which to choose. Several video tutorials introduce new users to the product.CONS: Unfortunately, most districts will find the application too expensive to install on every school computer. Instead, they will reserve access to students with special needs or IEP/504 plans, thus reinforcing the divide between students receiving mainstream education and children who have trouble accessing the general curriculum. This outcome, it should be noted, is not a fault of the program per se.OVERALL EVALUATION: Co:Writer 6’s strength lies in its ability to create a writing environment tailored to individual users’ needs. Struggling readers and writers both young and old and individuals with poor or illegible handwriting, developmental delays, physical disabilities, and learning challenges can use its word-prediction power to become better writers. While it falls into the category of assistive technology, it’s flexible enough to meet the needs of all students.www.donjohnston.comRetail price: Single licenses start at $325; network unlimited site licenses, $1900/volume discounts.—Carol Holzberg
The beta version of SMART Notebook Express software is a lightweight Web-based application that lets anyone, anywhere download, edit, and share files created in SMART Notebook software. SMART Notebook Express enables educators who do not have SMART Notebook software installed on their computers to access and customize SMART Notebook content for their teaching needs. SMART Notebook Express incorporates popular features of SMART Notebook software, including the textediting tool, the pen tool, single-object selection, move and delete, basic Adobe Flash support, and the option of adding a page.Price: free Category: presentation
Brain Parade, a developer of learning solutions for children with autism and other developmental disabilities, has been chosen as one of ten Innovation Incubator participants by the Education Division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). The product of note is its iPad app, See.Touch.Learn., a visual learning and assessment system that improves social interaction and communication skills of students with special needs and combines the effectiveness of picture cards with the power and interactivity of the iPad. The app provides educators, therapists and parents with the ability to create highly personalized lessons through stunning, custom photography and audio prompts – replacing the need for bulky, outdated flash cards commonly used by special education teachers and therapists.