Recording of Technology Supports for Writing Webinar is Now Available

This past Wednesday, Joan Green and I held a webinar on technology supports for writing which was based on our new eBook, "Technology Supports for Writing" which we recently released. The 51 page eBook which is accessible with Adobe Acrobat Reader includes a great compilation of resources for anyone who needs to support students in the area of writing. Included in the ebook iare over 12 videos that are embedded that let you actually see how the software works. You can view the videos in full screen and get a sense first hand if you think that the program may have application for the students you are working with. During the webinar we highlighted a couple of reesources, ie. PixWriter, Livescribe Pulse Smartpen, Ginger, and NaturalReaders. You will find the eBook to be a helpful resource to have on your computer which not only includes a breakdown of features and interactive links to the publishers website.

This 51 page cutting-edge video ebook is a rich resource for information about various software and hardware tools to improve the writing process. It includes one video describing how to take advantage of this new "just in time" type of multi-media interactive learning tool and 12 integrated videos showing readers examples of how to use supports built-in to some of the highlighted products.

Cover of Technology Supports for Writing

Clickable topics in our video e-book include:

* Software with customizable drill-and-practice exercises to improve writing
* Software to improve spelling
* Software to help stimulate written content
* Features of word processors and assistive writing technology
* Text-based word processing features
* Text- based word processors
* Picture-based talking word processors
* Stand-alone word bank program
* Dictionaries
* Graphic organizers: technology for organizing written narrative
* Technology to help with the physical aspect of writing
* Speech-to-text and voice recognition
* Initiation of the writing process
* The physical act of handwriting or typing
* Portable word processors

A recording of the webinar is now available for everyone to view for one week- until November 7, 2009. Please feel free to pass along this information:) If you know of colleagues, friends, teachers or others who might be interested in this topic, it would be great if you could email them the info to access the recording. If you are involved with support groups, listserves, blogs and Facebook - we would appreciate your help posting this info.

To view the recording go to

In this 60 minute presentation, you have the opportunity to see how assistive technology can help individuals with the writing process. Joan and I demonstrate and discuss several products such as Ginger Software, PixWriter, Livescribe Pulse Pen and Natural Readers and present information about our book titled "Technology Supports for Writing" (available as an instant download or on a CD from

Until Nov. 7th, use the coupon code "presentation" for a 30% discount for online orders of the download. Contact me at for an order form if you prefer to pay by check or need to use a purchase order

You will need Windows Media Player on your computer in order to view the webinar recording as well as high speed internet access. If you don't have the software, it can be downloaded from here.

After ordering the ebook, you will neet to have at last Adobe Reader 9 to view the integrated videos. If you don't have at least that version, it can be downloaded here .

We are both available for consultations as needed (on this topic or others) if you would like to explore in greater detail which resources might be most appropriate for your situation. Our contact information is included below. We'd also appreciate hearing from you about other topics you would be interested in learning about.

Picture of Brian Friedlander Brian Friedlander, Ph.D.
Skype: assistivetek

Picture of Joan Green Joan Green, M.A. CCC-SLP
1-800-IST- 2550 or 301-602-2899
Twitter- @jgreenslp

MindGenius 3 Released!

No sooner then I do a review of MindGenius 2.5, I find out that MindGenius Ldt., has just released MindGenius 3. When you first open MindGenius 3 you will see an who new look, complete with the adoption of the Fluid Ribbon Interface. MindGenius 3.0 is much more visually appealing to use but you should feel right at home with the common interface structure. MindGenius 3 kept many of the same conventions as in their previous version such as the Map Explorer and the Picture Gallery Viewer. MindGenius 3 has a clean and inviting look summoning you to jump in and use the program. If you are upgrading from version 2.5 you should be up and running in no time. While it may take some time to get used to the Ribbon, I found the organization of the commands on the Ribbon to be well thought out and relatively easy to find what I was looking for. The Welcome Map and the Getting Started Guide are two useful resources when you are just beginning to use MindGenius 3. Here are a list of some of the new features that you will find in MindGenius as provided by the publisher:

  • Ribbon User Interface which allows for improved brainstorming, presentations, analysis and task management functionality and easier access to the most commonly used features and functionality.

  • improved Analysis capability to help you sort your information and add quick filters to get a different view on your data eg by category, actions due/ over due, cost or task properties.

  • MS Excel export for use with pivot table analysis, parts lists, costs, task management, and FMEA Analysis, allowing you to work with numerical values as well as words.

  • Numerical fields added that allow you to record actual work hours, costs and quantities and undertake cost and quantity calculations.

  • updated image library with a suite of pictures that can be used royalty free by all MindGenius users.

  • ability to add and edit your own question sets in the Question Tool allowing you to undertake improved planning and brainstorming sessions and create frameworks for meetings and customer facing sessions.

  • timer to allow you to keep on schedule in brainstorming, meetings and presentations.

One of the strengths that comes across in using MindGenuis 3 is the powerful filters and the ability to sort your maps by a specific category. MndGenius really shines in this area and makes for a valuable tool if you are doing consulting and looking how resources are being used in a project. With a click of the mouse you are able to create your map based on the Resources and see things through a different lens. You can watch this video to show you how to assign Resources with the Resources Dropper and how to quickly create a Resource Map within MindGenius 3. In this regards MindGenius 3 has redone the interface and allows you to quickly link resources with tasks on your map. Using the very familiar Eye Dropper you can drop resources in tasks make it easy to track them in a project. You will also find that there were some significant features added to the Task Ribbon. In MindGenius 3 you can now track Work Hours, and Cost for tasks that can then be Exported to Excel for further analysis. If you like you can also Export your Tasks to Outlook with a click of the mouse. Having exported some project information to Excel I was impressed with the formatting and the Report that was generated. Of course if I decide to, I could always export the project to MS Project to give me a full range of tools and a Gantt Chart.

One of the features which is unique to MindGenius 3 is the ability to create Question Sets. A Question Set is a series of prompts or questions that can be associated with a mind map. This is a great feature to use to help you to generate ideas and to get you to thinking about a topic is a new or novel way. While MindGenius 2.5 included this feature you were unable to edit the Question Sets and you had to use them in the standard way. In MindGenius 3 you can easily edit the Questions and use them as you see fit. These custom prompts and questions can help and guide users to be more productive when they are working through an issue and are mind mapping. These Question Sets can be very powerful frameworks for users when they are attempting to solve problems using mind mapping tools.

All in all, you will find MindGenius 3 to be an easy to use mind mapping tool that builds on it foundations and provides a good foundation for future development. While you will have to gauge for yourself the worth of this upgrade- I for one feel that users will find MindGenius 3 easier to use, more visually appealing and brings with it a clean new interface that should make users more productive.

Today's Webspiration Training

Today I was called into a Middle School to do some training with teachers on Inspiration to help support a student with writing and reading comprehension difficulties. Last year I had done a comprehensive assistive technology evaluation and had made the recommendation to the Child Study Team that the student would benefit greatly from using Inspiration on a computer as a pre-writing strategy and to help him to better understand and retain information. When I went into the school today I decided to take a little different tact and worked with the teachers on getting them comfortable with Webspiration. Since all of the teachers did not have Inspiration installed on thier laptops I figured why not try Webspiration a tool that they could use not only with this student but with the entire class. There are lots of advantages to using Webspiration if you are teacher, most notably, you can access your graphic organizers from any computer connected to the internet and you can jointly share your webs and templates with others.

During this short session we were able to create a graphic organizer on the "scientific method" as well as add graphics from the library. We also had a chance to add notes and to look at some of the templates that come with Webspiration. The "aha" moment didn't come until I showed them how they could share their files with others. Within minutes teachers were collaborating with one another and could see just how easy it was for them to share their graphic organizers with the identified student who would need this to support his learning. It was a rell eye opener for them to also learn that the student could then access these files and open them with Inspiraiton 8 which he has installed on his laptop computer.

I had a chance to work directly with the student and showed him how to access these shared files that some of his teachers had shared with him in Webspiration. He quickly grasped how to use Webspiration and was taught how to download the files he needed so that he could use some of the other supports that were only found in Inspiration 8, Text to Speech, and the Word Guide. Using the Listen Tool the student was able to click on any symbol on the screen to hear the text being read. Likewise I also showed him how to turn on the Talking Interface which would then allow him to have the computer read the definitions in the Word Guide.

Having the ability of the teachers and the student to have access to Webspiration really was very empowering. I will be going back to the district in a couple of weeks to do a follow training to see how everything is going. In the interim please take a look at Webspiration and see how you can begin to use it with the students that you work with.

Glance to the Rescue

While I have used Glance in the past to do webinars and to do screen sharing, I have never had the opportunity until yesterday to use it to remotely control someone's computer. One of my students called me on my cell phone and shared with me that she was having trouble doing APA formatting in Microsoft Word. I suggested that we do a session using Glance and that I would take control of her computer. I quickly shot off an email with the log-on link to her colelege email address and within seconds we were up and running. I was able to take control of her PC and show her how to use the Reference Tools within Microsoft Office 2007 to create her citations and bibliogrpahy. My student, to say the least was fascinated by the support and my ability to remotely take control of her computer. The whole support call lasted about 10 minutes but after we were through we resolved all of her technical issues and she was then able to focus on her Action Research project. Having tools like Glance at your disposal was a god send.

Creating Interactive Handouts with Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended

Earlier this week I spoke about how you could easily create printed handouts from your Captivate 4 projects. While this is certainly an added benefit and a good approach when you are doing workshops-wouldn't it be even better if you could show your participants how to accomplish the skill in an interactive handout. Why not take the printed handout an add a video demonstration to it to make it even more engaging for your learners. If you have Adobe Acrobat Pro9 Extended it is easy to add a video to your Microsoft Word document and then convert it to a PDF file and distribute it electronically.

In this example I created my video demonstration using Captivate 4 and embedded the SWF file directly into Microsoft Word handout from the Adobe Acrobat Tab within Microsoft Word. Once I have slected the SWF file I can set the Poster view for the video that the user will see when they open up the handout. Because I am creating a PDF file I can be confident that the end user will be able to view the contents of the PDF with nothing else but the free version of Adobe Reader 9.1. Using this technique is a great way to explain and demonstrate to your participants how to accomplish a task on the computer. You now have the best of both worlds- you can print out your handouts or electronically distribute them with embedded videos. Either way I'm sure your workshop participants will appreciate your efforts, having the various level of supports available to them during and after your workshop. If you need a place to host your PDF you should take a look at a free way to upload your PDF and share them. So go ahead and download my handout and sit back and watch the video demonstration on page 1. Just a tip if you Right click on the video when it is running you can view the video in Full screen view.

New Livescribe Pulse Smartpens Announced

OAKLAND, CALIF. – Oct. 19, 2009 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Livescribe Inc. announced the expansion of its line-up of award-winning Pulse smartpens, a computer in a pen that digitally captures and syncs handwriting and audio together. Customers can now select a 4GB and 2GB model in a new, stylish titanium color. The 4GB model holds more than 400 hours of recorded audio and provides ample storage for consumers to add applications such as, entertainment, education and productivity tools to their smartpen when Livescribe launches its Application Store later this year. The 4GB Pulse smartpen has a retail price of $199.95 and the 2GB model is $169.95.

Also, released today is the Pro-Pack bundle, a new option for the business professional. The Pro-Pack includes the 4GB Pulse smartpen in an exclusive black color, an A5 size starter notebook, a premium leather carrying case, handwriting to text transcription software, and the new Pro Charging Cradle. This special bundle is initially available at for $249.95. The Pro Charging Cradle has a stylish ink-well design and charges Pulse from an electrical outlet or computer.

To meet growing demand and provide greater purchase accessibility, Pulse can be found at several new retail outlets, including Best Buy, select Apple stores nationally and Starting in mid-November, the Pulse smartpen will be available at Staples stores nationwide. Pulse continues to be available at Target and

“We are thrilled to have broadened not only our product line, but also our retail distribution to reach people wherever they shop for electronics. We know that many people like to see things in person before purchase and our new retail relationships with Best Buy, Apple and Staples will help demonstrate how Pulse can positively impact their lives professionally, academically and personally by never missing a word,” said Livescribe CMO Byron Connell.

Context Organizer- One Strategy for Students with Reading Disabilities

For the past 1 1/2 I have been working closely with Henry Lewkowicz at Context Discovery to help get the word out about his innovative software application, Context Organizer. Context Organizer is Windows based application that can very quickly summarize information from various sources. In today's information age all of us are bombarded with information that is coming at us from all angles at the speed of light. But in order to keep up we must have access to this information and be pretty good at skimming and reading quickly all of the text. If we are on the web or reading a Word or PDF files we must be able to read quickly and absorb the information if we are to keep up in our fields. This is where Context Organizer comes in-imagine that you had this reading agent that could go through the document or the web site and summarize the information and pull out all of the relevant information and contextualize it for you. Well you no longer have to wait- you see Context Organizer is here and is your humble reading servant. For example you can go to a web site and click on the Context Organizer icon on your browser and voila- the web site contents are summarized for you to read. If you find that you need to delve more into the web site simply click on the link to take you there. Likewise, you can instantly send the summaries from Context Organizer to Microsoft Word for further review or editing. You see, Context Organizer is an invaluable and transformational tool and could be a god send for students and adults with reading disabilities who have to process a great deal of text. By combining Context Organizer with a text to speech tool, students could process that much more text, and get to the heart of the matter that much more quickly. Context organizer can also be used to search and summarize the contents of your Google searches eliminating the need to go to each and every site that Google suggests. If you like what you see in the search, read the summarization, if not discard it and move to the next summary. It is really that easy. If you would like to try out Context Organizer you can download a 30 day Trial from Context Discovery. You can also check out this video that I put together on using Context Organizer on the web.

Free Webinar: Technology Supports for Writing

Technology Supports for Writing

Join authors Brian Friedlander, Ph.D and Joan Green M.A.CCC-SLP for a free webinar to learn about their new interactive video ebook.

Space is limited.

Click Here Reserve your Webinar seat now or go to

Learn about a new interactive guide to cutting-edge technology tools, strategies and resources to improve the writing process. This video ebook is now available at

We plan to record this webinar and make it available for viewing for one week after the session. Please register here even if you can't participate live and we will notify you about how to view the recorded session after it takes place.

Everyone who registers will be given a coupon code for 20% off the price of Technology Supports for Writing.

Cover of Technology Supports for Writing
Title:   Technology Supports for Writing

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.


Creating Handouts from Adobe Captivate 4

I have been creating a lot of training videos in Captivate 4 lately for some of my upcoming workshops and one of the features which is often overlooked is the ability to quickly create printed handouts for your participants. This coming week I will be doing a training on how to create a blog using Blogger. For the workshop I created a video that demonstrates how to setup the Commenting features in Blogger . In order to address the various learning styles, I decided to provide my participants with a handout so that they can jot down notes and give them another reference point when I do the demonstrations.

While I have published a number of posts about creating demonstration and simulations in Adobe Captivate 4, you will find it very easy to create handouts from your demonstration videos- with a just a couple of clicks. Since Adobe Captivate 4 merely takes screen shots it is very easy for the Captivate 4 to create a Word document by formatting the screen shots and text captions as you will see. I put together this short video demonstration about how to create printed handouts in Adobe Captivate 4 with a click of the mouse. Let me know what you think!

Clickfree Transformer Cable Backup Solution

If you have worked with computers for any length of time you know just how important the data that lives on our computers are to us. From our music, to photographs to financial data we all rely on those files being there when we boot up our computers. So the question is, "When was the last time you backed up your computer?" You see it is not a question if your hard disk will fail but a question as to when will it fail. While we go our merry way thinking that our computers will work as they should, there will come a time when you boot up and you get the dreaded error message that your computer will not start up. If a technician can't get the system up an running you will be faced with the option of having to reformat your hard drive and lose all of you files. Wouldn't it be nice if you had prepared for this event and had a backup that you could access to restore all of your data files.? I know the answer to this question, and have been working with a number of products from Clickfree to see how well they work. Clickfree has a number of products that let you easily backup your data files without the need to install any software. Clickfree tries to make the process of backing up your hard drive as fuss free as possible and in this regards- they have accomplished their goal.

I had a chance this week to take a look at Clickfree's Transformer Cable, which turns any external USB drive into a Clickfree backup solution. The Clickfree Transformer Cable is a small USB cable with the attached Transformer pod on it that you simply plug into your computers USB port. Once the Transformer is plugged into your computer you can plug in your external USB drive and within seconds the Clickfree Backup software runs finding, organizing and backing up all of your files. It is really that easy- with no software to install. With the price of external USB drives coming way down in price there is no excuse not to have your data backed up. Clickfree Transformer Cable works with Windows Vista®, Windows® XP and Mac OS X 10.5 or later.

I have to say that the Clickfree's Transformer Cable worked as advertised. I was able to back up my Dell XPS 1210 using the Clickfree's Transformer Cable in a couple of minutes and all I needed to do was plug in my external USB drive into the Clickfree's Transformer Cable. Now I have the peace of mind that my files are safe should my hard drive crash. The Clickfree's Transformer Cable backs up all of your data files and includes a Restore function should you need to restore your files. You can also search for files using the Clickfree Backup Software and access individual files should you need them. Clickfree saves your data files in the native application's file format so that it is easy to access should you need to copy or move them to another computer. The Clickfree Solution backs up over 400 difference types of files from your hard drive so that you can be rest assured that they will be there when you need them. Clickfree Transformer also ships with a small application which you can install to your computer which will remind you to backup your files- you can also set it up the Clickfree Transformer for Unattended Backups as well. You should note that the Clickfree's Transformer Cable Backup Solution does not backup your software applications or your operating system. If this is important to you, you may want to look at another solution (I hope to share this solution with you in another post shortly). But for the peace of mind of having all your data files backed up, the Clickfree's Transformer Cable solution worked as advertised. If you need a simple no fuss method to back up your computer files then this is the way to go- trust me you will be happy you did!

Microsoft Adds a Timeline View to MS Project 2010

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog post about Gantt Charts and Timelines You Decide which raised the issue with regards to which views project managers and their stakeholders prefer. While I didn't get a large number of readers to complete the survey-most readers seemed to lean towards using the Timeline View to communicate the status of the project. It would seem that if you are not a professional project manager that reading Gantt Charts could pose a problem. There is a great deal of clarity that can be derived from looking at a Timeline and the information is much more digestible. In the original post I talked about how MindView 3 Business Edition from Matchware enables you to communicate the information in either a Gantt Chart, a Timeline or a Combination Timeline/Gantt Chart View. So depending on your audience you can decide how to share the information visually, that is best suited for your stakeholders.

In light of my July post it was interesting for me to come across the blog post from the Microsoft Project Team Blog that announced that they had added a Timeline View to MS Project 2010. From the post it looks as if there will be lots of ways to customize and format the Timeline. The post also noted that you will be able to copy and past the Timeline information into the other Office Products. It is my understanding that the Timeline will come in as Office Art shapes that will then allow you to format it to your hearts content. So I would like to believe that my post swayed the large Seattle company called Microsoft to add the Timeline view- but who am I kidding! In any case it is great to see that tools like MS Project 2010 will give users a flexible tool for communicating project information and status.