Thursday, 20 October 2011

Kurzweil Educational Systems is an American based company that specializes in providing reading and writing software to assist people who are blind or partially sighted, or who have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder.
Kurzweil Educational Systems supplies two principal software products to its customers - Kurzweil 1000 and Kurzweil 3000. Kurzweil 1000 is a package which enables a visually impaired user to gain access to both electronic and printed material; while Kurzweil 3000 is a tiered assistive reading, writing and learning medium aimed at students with learning disabilities or other disabilities that make reading or writing difficult.
Today, we will be looking at the Kurzweil 3000 product.

Monday, 17 October 2011

What are the features of Kurzweil 3000?

By: Bernice Cameron, Shauna McNeil and Alana Pyke :)

Program features:

  • Optical character recognition for scanning and recognizing texts

    • Basic word processor with auditory feedback (text to speech and text reading)

    • Study skills tools- Patented Dual Highlighting Kurzweil 3000’s patented dual highlighting of onscreen text improves students’ reading performance by highlighting a sentence, line or phrase in one colour and highlighting each word in another colour as it is read aloud.

        The study skills tools can improve their reading comprehension and retention with additional tools such as annotations, bubble notes, voice notes, bookmarks and extraction of outlines or word lists.

      • Word prediction (customized vocabulary lists)

      • Students can type the beginning letters of a word, even with phonetic spelling, see a list of word choices, and click on individual words in the list to hear possible choices before selecting the word they want.

        • Quick Access to Look-it-up Tools for vocabulary developmentOne-click access to word support features such as dictionary definitions, synonyms, syllabification, and word spelling helps students read and write independently.

        • Language Translations

      • Unique Test-Taking CapabilitiesStudents can independently complete worksheets, classroom tests or standardised exams containing circle-the-answer, fill-in-the blanks, true/false, and essay questions within the program.

        • Create Audio File with iTunes® Integration
        Taking your reading where you want has never been easier with the Create Audio File feature. You’ll have a number of options for your file conversions, including AAC, Apple Lossless, or MP3; a choice of reading voice and reading speed; and the option to save audio files to a folder or to an iTunes playlist for effortless transfer to your iPod®.

      • Read the Web Using Mozilla Firefox

      • Kurzweil 3000 enhances audible and visual access to web pages with Mozilla Firefox, opening up the resources of the Internet to all students, while providing the same reading and reference features that users enjoy within Kurzweil 3000.

        • Classic Literature CD-ROM includedOver 1000 electronic texts, including literary classics for adults and children, reference materials, and historical manuscripts come with Kurzweil 3000 for Macintosh.

        Getting Started

        • Click the Kurzweill 3000 icon on the desktop, and type in your username.
        • To scan a page, lay the page flat on the scanner glass, print side down. Close the scanner lid, and click Scan in the main toolbar. To save the scanned page, click Save in the main toolbar.
        • To type a new document, click New in the main toolbar and start typing the document. To save the document, click Save in the main toolbar.
        • Or click Open on the main toolbar, and enter the name of an existing file.
        Here is Kurzweil 3000's opening screen:

        Who should use Kurzweil 3000?

        Most often, Kurzweil is a program that was first introduced in most schools for students with a learning disability.  However, Kurzweil 3000 is a program that can be used by everyone in the classroom!  All students will benefit from using this program. 

        • People who have dyslexia and other reading difficulties find this program very helpful.
        • Students with attentional issues find this program very useful as it provides both visual and auditory access to information, thus reducing distractions. 
        • For a student who has significant abstract comprehension issues, the highlighting feature can be a very useful tool. 
        • ESL students
        • Students with visual impairments 

        Pros and Cons

        All software programs have positive and negative aspects. With Kurzweil 3000, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

        ·         Creates independence and self-sufficiency.
        ·         Alleviates reading insecurities.
        ·         Voices in lastest version are more lifelike!
        ·         Multiple languages! For example, this can be used in French classrooms to translate documents which is so valuable! (English, French, Spanish, German and Italian)
        ·         Can copy and paste documents from word into Kurzweil and vice versa! This is very useful when creating an essay in word as you can use all the features in Kurzweil to help in writing the essay.
        ·         You can create MP3 files from Kurzweil. Then you can read the book or article or chapter on the way home on the bus using your Ipod!
        ·         Assists in verifying accuracy of information transferred from thought to paper.
        ·         Adjustable voice and rate of speed.
        ·         Reads the web
        ·         Right click reveals main toolbars
        ·         Definitions, spell-check, etc
        ·         Can be used from elementary through to post secondary.
        ·         Study skills toolbar can be used in conjunction with a unit on study skills for all students.
        ·         Can highlight and extract text from a document to use as study notes or review.

        ·         Need to consider the computer’s memory: best if used with Windows XP and 256K of RAM  (at least).
        ·         Takes time to access (IE: training).
        ·         Doesn’t always properly read the web.
        ·         Scanning and preparing can be very time consuming.
        ·         Sometimes skips a page/section or the page is scanned upside down
        ·         Shaded areas of text don’t always scan properly.
        ·         When using the zoom feature and going to a new page in the document, there is a default zoom that automatically pops up. This may not be the best zoom for the user.
        ·         The features in the study skills toolbar are ghosted out unless there is an open document.
        ·         Tests frustrating due to time constraints and correct placement

        Why Use Kurzweil?


        Sunday, 16 October 2011

        Study Skills With Kurzweil

        Study Guide

        Step 1:  Open the document you need to study.
        Step 2:  Double click on the green icon (brick) to open the study skills toolbar.

        • Choose your preferred color highlighter from the study skills toolbar.
        • While reading/listening, highlight important text (you can also have the highlighted text read back to you).
        • You can go back and erase any of the terms you highlighted by clicking th erase button in  the study skills toolbar and dragging the cursor over the highlighted text.
        • When finished reading the document, you can extract the highlighted text into a separate document to review main points/terms (this feature can be found under File, then Extract).

        Sticky and text notes

        • Click the sticky note or text note button in the study skills toolbar (the text note gives a transparent box so you can see text underneath). 
        • Place the curser where you want the sticky note to be located.
        • Click inside to have the note read to you.

        • Similar process to sticky notes, except the footnote appears at the bottom of the page and underlines your word in the text.

        Voice notes
        • Students can also click the cursor where they would like to create a voice note.
        • Click the voice note icon from the study skills toolbar and a box (shown below) will appear. 
        • Record the voice note by clicking the record icon and hear what you recorded by clicking the play icon.
        • The place where the voice note is located leaves a voice icon and can be clicked to hear the voice note.

        Column notes
        • Click the column note button on the study skills toolbar to create column notes about the text.
        • Columns appear below the text with sections for main ideas, supporting ideas and other. 
        • Highlight and drag and drop the text into the appropriate sections.

        Bubble notes
        • Under tools on the main toolbar, place the cursor over note and find bubble note.
        • Place the cursor on the spot in the text where you would like to place a bubble note.
        • A textbox opens which allows you to type a heading and note/question.
        • Select how/when you would like the note/question read.

        Extract annotations
        • On the main toolbar click on File, and go down to Extract.
        • Click on the type of extraction you would like to do and the text you chose appears in a new/existing document.

        Writing With Kurzweil

        Step 1:  Open a document or new page from the main Kurzweil page.
        Step 2:  Begin writing and it will automatically read the words back to you.

        Additional writing features to help with the writing process:

        Open the writing toolbar by double clicking on the blue brick.  The following options can be accessed from this menu to assist students with their writing.

        • Choose a template or create your own to brainstorm ideas. 
        • In Brainstorm mode, use the Quick Take button to create thoughts.
        • Click inside a shape to type and edit.
        • To link thoughts, click Link, select the main thought, then select the sub-thought.
        •  Click Arrange to organize the thoughts.

        Make an outline
        • Choose a template or create your own to form an outline.
        • In Outline mode, use the Topic and Subtopic buttons to create topics and subtopics.
        • Press Return to create a same-level topic.
        • To promote or demote a selected topic, click the Left or Right Arrow button.
        • To reorder topics, click the Up or Down button.
        Create a writing draft
        • Students can choose a template to assist in the writing process.  Depending on the type of writing they are doing, the template explains each step of the writing process.

        You can make changes and switch between the two views.  You can also click on the icon next to each step and it explains the process for you (ex. What a conclusion is).

        • As you write, you can look up a word in the dictionary, use word prediction for spelling suggestions and find the part of speech it belongs to (by clicking on the icons in the main toolbar).