Saturday, July 1st, 2006
Inspiration Software, Inc. has just recently released Inspiration 8, its award winning software. Inspiration has been a basic part of my software toolkit for years and with each release it just keeps getting better and better. User of previous versions of Inspiration 8 will feel right at home using the latest release but will enjoy some of the new features that have been included in this version. When you first open Inspiration 8 you will note the new Inspiration Starter screen. The Inspiration Starter Screen gives you quick access to Templates, saved Files as well as to a new Learn to Use feature. When you click on the Learn to Use button you gain access to training videos on how to use Inspiration as well as new Curriculum Packets which show you how Inspiration 8 can be incorporated into the classroom with really wonderful examples of students work. The training videos are easy to access and let you learn the features at your own pace. They cover the topics of Visual Learning, Diagram View, Outline View, Enhancing a Project, Publishing Work, Customizing Inspiration, and Integrating Inspiration. The videos guide you through learning how to use Inspiration and can be stopped at any point. It is wonderful supplement to the new version and one that I’m sure that teachers will love to have at their disposal when they are learning or teaching students how to use the software.
One of the new features which teachers and students will really like is the ability to search from over 1 million pictures that they can add to their graphic organizer. While students can use the standard library of graphics the new feature add all kinds of possibilities to enhancing your concept map or web. Students can now look for graphic and limit it to photos as well as clip art. Simply type the picture you are looking for and if you are connected to the internet, Inspiration 8 will search the picture database and display the graphics. Searching is very quick, but more importantly you are assured since the graphics are coming from Inspiration Software, Inc. server that they are appropriate for school use. Student will also be glad to know that the new version of Inspiration now supports MP3 audio files and Quicktime movies. So now it is easier then ever to include videos or high quality audio files in Inspiration. Including MP3 files or Quicktime movies is very easy to do and will allow teachers to think of different ways to use Inspiration as a presentation tool with both movies and audio files integrated into the web. What a great way to address the various learning styles of your students by including both music and video to capture their imagination.
Many teachers over the years have used Inspiration to help students develop their vocabulary skills. In the latest version Inspiration now includes the Word Guide which can help students develop their language skills. To use the Word Guide students can simply highlight a word and then click on the Word Guide button on the Toolbar to bring up the feature. Students can easily find related words and synonyms for the word that they are looking up or they can type a word in Word Guide and then click Lookup to see the word defined. By turning on the Talking Interface feature within Inspiration it is possible for Inspiration to read all of the text that is displayed in the Word Guide. This is a tremendous feature for both students who struggle to read and for ELL students. You can turn the Talking Interface feature on by going to the Preferences and making sure that Talking Interface is checked off.
For those of you who are considering upgrading now is the time to do so. Inspiration 8 has many new features that will enhance your experience when creating and using graphic organizers in the classroom. While a host of new features were added users of previous versions will feel right at home. If you would like to download a trial of Inspiration 8 to try out the new features you can do that from www.inspiration.com. Inspiration 8 is packed with some new and exciting features that make it a worthwhile upgrade-check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.