Friday, December 4, 2009

The Kurzweil

This exercise asked us to explore a popular tool in the world of literacy and learning support known as Kurzweil 3000, or just "The Kurzweil". You can request a 30-day demo CD from their website. So, I took it for a spin.

First of all, I was quite frustrated with the installation process. The first time I tried to install it I was told that I had to restart my computer before it would work. Well, I have about a dozen different things open that I was not prepared to shut down. So, I tried my backup computer but alas I have no speakers on that computer and it didn't want to work through the sound card. Then, I tried my laptop but I didn't have enough space on C and it wouldn't let me install to D. So, back to the first computer, write down what's open, shut everything down, install, restart and finally use Kurzweil.

I then opened the Reading for Math.kes file provided by our teacher, a document that had already been scanned in. I went through the tutorials provided which basically showed me how to move around the tool bars and then began the process of trying to add a text note. The tutorials did not go through that so I checked the help menu. The help menu said to go to the "Study Skills Training" tool bar. Guess what? That's not where it is. It's actually under "Test Preparation". Anyway, I added several text notes to indicate where the student should fill in the form and what data was being requested. The text notes were next to name and questions 1-3, 5 & 6.

Question 4 asked the student to circle items in the picture shown.

The question is: How can a student do this within the program (or can they?). And, the answer is, yes they can but only after some edits are made by the teacher. As is, the student would not be able to use the circle tool on the "Basic" toolbar because the picture is not one of the zones. So, using Zone Edit (which I learned about from the video) I made the crayons into a zone. The students would now be able to circle the number of crayons the question is asking for.

So, yes it's possible. Finally, I added a bubble note to be read before the first question. This allowed me to review the task and ask the student to consider the appropriate strategy to use to solve the problems. The bubble note allows you to request input from the student but doesn't provide a mechanism for stating whether the selected answer is correct. Another flaw that I noted is that while you can slow the speed at which the program reads, there seems to be no way to add appropriate pauses or interjections. It just continues to read as if it were one long block of text.

I think that more exploration of this tool would be necessary to use it in real classrooms with actual students but I do see potential for this as a useful tool for some.

1 comment:

  1. All toolbars are customizable. Right click on the ones that are showing and you can add or remove buttons to create toolbars specific to tasks. Additionally, you can "lock" a toolbar into a document, so that when the document opens, the toolbar is automatically activated, too.