Friday, 6 September 2013

ChooseIt! Maker 3 Review

As one of the team that helped design ChooseIt! Maker 2 over ten years ago, I've been pretty keen to see what the new team at Inclusive Technology have done to update this really useful special needs program. If you've never seen ChooseIt! Maker 2, it's an easy to learn program that you can use to create teaching activities for your interactive whiteboards, touch-screens, mouse and most importantly, switch users.

The activities were created using your own images and sounds which meant that they could then be used to support communication and learning at any level and for any age. The program was immensely popular with special schools who use it to make accessible, personalised and age appropriate curriculum content for their students. So how does the new version compare?

The most obvious difference is that ChooseIt! Maker 3 is an online tool which runs in your web browser. No need to install the program or set up complicated network shares, simply click the icon from any computer with internet access, log in and you're ready to go. This will be really useful for members of staff who like to prepare resources at home.

Another major change is the interface which now closely resembles Matrix Maker. Don't worry if you've never seen Matrix Maker, the simple tabs will help guide you through the process. Click the 'Page Layout' to set the number of choices, click 'Pictures' to add or edit images, click 'Sounds' to add audio prompts, click 'Text' to add or edit any text you want to use. Finally add reward sounds (and you can now add a different reward to each picture) and you're done.

ChooseIt Maker 3 comes with thousands of ready to use images including symbol sets from both Symbolstix and Widget. You can also use your own images from digital cameras, use a web cam or get images directly from the internet using the handy tool that is built in to the program.

When you've made an activity simply select it from the menu and click play. Chooseit! Maker 3 provides very comprehensive settings to enable your activity to be used together with a wide range of assistive technology including one or two switches, touch-screens, pointing devices and keyboards and new to CM3, Eye Gaze.

Activities work just like the previous program. The student is asked a question and given a range of possible answers. If the student chooses the correct answer, they are rewarded with music and animation. Rewards can be configured to meet the specific needs of the student or you can just use the built in colourful animations and music.

Unlike the previous version, Chooseit! Maker 3 automatically gathers performance data which you can use for evidence, 'Records of Achievement' or simply to print out for the student to take home.   

All in all, a well programmed update to a classic special needs program... but wait, I've saved the best until last. Using Inclusive Technology's free ChooseIt! Maker 3 app, you can download and play any of your activities on an ipad or Android tablet device with switch access too if you need it.

So here's a summary of the new features:
  • Available as an online tool
  • Full Symbolstix and Widget symbol sets included
  • Add different rewards to each cell
  • Works with all assistive technology including eye gaze
  • Gathers student performance data
  • Ipad and Android integration through free app

ChooseIt Maker 3 is available from Inclusive Technology and costs £49 (Single User) £69 (5 User) and £99 (Site) for a one year subscription.  

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