Visual learning a key strategy for helping students succeed

MIND also introduced a new math fluency program at FETC, called ST Math Fluency, that uses visualization strategies and interactive animations to reinforce basic math facts. To achieve optimal results, students should use the software programs for at least two sessions per week, Coulson said, with each session lasting 45 minutes.

Another company that makes visual learning programs for schools is Inspiration Software. At FETC, Inspiration debuted version 9 of its popular self-titled software, which helps students develop critical thinking and organizational skills through the use of visual representations. The program reportedly is used in more than 25 million schools worldwide.

Responding to a frequent request from teachers, Inspiration 9 adds new presentation capabilities to the software, said company president and co-founder Mona Westhaver. With just a few mouse clicks, students now can create a presentation from an outline they’ve constructed.

For schools that choose not to upgrade to the full version 9, a presentation applet that adds the same functionality is available for downloading. But Inspiration 9 adds several other new capabilities that are useful as well, Westhaver said.

These include the ability to add video and sound to outlines; a menu of choices for labeling how various concepts are linked in a concept map, making it easier for students to understand the relationships between concepts; and a new map view for creating Mind Maps, a method of note-taking in non-linear fashion developed by Tony Buzan in the 1970s.

A single copy of Inspiration 9 sells for $69, with volume and site licenses available. For schools upgrading from earlier versions of the software, the cost is $29.95 through June 30 and $39.95 thereafter.

For the past several years, Inspiration Software has offered grants for teachers to learn how to incorporate visual learning strategies in their classrooms. Applications for these Inspired Teacher Scholarships typically were due in late January, but this year the company didn’t issue a call for applications.

Westhaver explained that the company is restructuring the program to incorporate student projects, too—and the new grant program will be announced later this year.

eSchool News Staff

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