For the second year, Inspiration (designed to help students plan and organize projects) has nabbed first place, and the ubiquitous Microsoft Office is again not far behind. Next in line came Vernier's Logger Pro, thanks to its array of data-collection tools for science classrooms, followed by the addictively cool Google Earth. (See the Edutopia.org article "The Good Earth" for a profile of its use in education.) But a sure sign of the technological times was the wide, wide range of additional responses -- from "My eCoach" to "the Geometer's Sketchpad" and the "The Phonics Game" -- with very few "I don't know's" scattered between.
A two-peat win raises the question, what makes Inspiration such an inspiration? A handful of respondents offered this feedback:
1. The visual-mapping component makes information easy to process and remember.
- "The ability to easily create, edit, print, and share graphical constructs of thinking processes, topics, and timelines makes Inspiration an essential tool for all teachers."
- "Maps are extremely helpful with complicated topics and new subjects. Students can better remember the maps than their notes."
- "There's enough flexibility to meet various learning styles."
2. Works well with others (software, that is) and is helpful for curriculum building.
- "I use it for assignments that also tap Word, PowerPoint, Photoshop, and the Internet."
- "The software also includes curriculum links, toolkits, and other more advanced functions that make it simple to design a curriculum map for an entire course."
3. Easy to learn -- for both kids and teachers.
- "It's easy as pie. Kids pick it up mighty quick."
- "It's also idiot proof. That is always helpful."