Our task this week is to choose AT software that was mentioned in Chapter 7 in Bryant and Bryant's Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities. Teachers at Abbott Tech were exposed to Inspiration, a semantic mapping (information organizing) software at our pre-service professional development a few years ago. We made a graphic organizer. We started with a key word or concept, added shapes with other words or concepts, and connected them to each other with lines. When the map was complete, we instructed the software to create a written outline using the words and concepts in our map.
The software is wonderful for visual learners. An instructor can use any of the graphic organizer tools to demonstrate through pictures the relationships between concepts. A class or small groups can collaborate on an graphic organizer, adding pictures and descriptions, to better understand a topic. Students who struggle with outlines can use Inspiration to organize their writing. For conscientious students who want to understand an assignment and produce good work, it is a great tool.
According to a 2005 Education World review, it takes 30 to 60 minutes to teach the program t a class. Students love to use it during class and for presentations. So many children are visual learners due to the video games and computer time, the software is a natural fit. One negative comment had to do with a lack of boundaries on the page. The pages were endless. Another comment dealt with forgetting steps in the program, then learning it and doing well.
In order to make a visually attractive product, it takes some time to make a visual map. As far as individuals using the software for individual work, I have found that only the most motivated and students will use an extra step to do a good job. Even if the student and all of the adults in his learning community are trained, if the process takes too long, he won't use the tool.