[Inspiration (800) 877-4292, Grades 4-12]

InspireData is an impressive suite of programs designed to help students focus on data collection, manipulation and presentation.

Getting Started manual is a well-written and concise tutorial, and an online help system is also available.  An adult or savvy student familiar with computers can leaf through it in 15 minutes and be comfortably on the way to using the program.  Instructions are clearly presented for both Windows and Macintosh users.

       In brief, the program is set up to allow entering of data in Table View, and analysis of data in Plot View.  Note that data can be entered directly or imported from other programs or from the Internet.  Plot view contains numerous plot possibilities:  Venn, Stack, Pie, Axis, Time Series, all of which can be customized with color and icons to make a student's final presentation a personal creation.  Finally, the Slide Show feature allows students to arrange and present their work in a slide (page) form.  They can add additional explanatory notes and update, change, rearrange and delete slides easily, at any time in the process.

       Younger students unfamiliar with spreadsheets will find the numerous examples especially helpful, and should have little trouble moving between views and plot types.
InspireData offers over 60 databases and examples, grouped by typical curricular arrangement. After exploring these samples, students will be empowered with the tools to make planning a project and collecting new data more fun than work.

       This is a solid, informative, easy-to-use program that delivers exactly what it promises, at a reasonable price.

SMART Board Software
[SMART Technologies (403) 802-2593, ages K-12]

       How does a teacher capture the attention of today's wired--and wireless--students?  Whiteboards are glorified chalkboards with multi-colored markers; slide shows and videos are static and stultifying; lectures are a yawn.  Even presentation computer displays have barriers to interactivity and student involvement.

       Savvy educators have discovered interactive whiteboards, which promise near-total interactivity - but without a powerful software tool, it's just another chalkboard.  SMART Technologies delivers that power with
SMART Board SoftwareSMART Board Software, for Windows and Macintosh, will work with any manufacturer's whiteboard, but according to a company spokesperson, full capabilities are only delivered with a SMART Board.

       Be that as it may,
SMART Board Software is loaded with features and is user-friendly--so much so that even the youngest student can use it, while your local techno geek will revel in the advanced features.

SMART Board Software includes Notebook whiteboarding software, SMART Board Tools, SMART Board driver, SMART Essentials for Educators: Gallery Collections for Notebook software.  One of the niftier additions is Notebook's take-home privileges that allow students and teachers to work from home.  And if your school already has SMART whiteboard products, the software package is free.

More reviews

To contact us:
ComputED Gazette