Monday, October 19, 2015

Crowdfunding Alert! CZUR: How one super scanner can help all students achieve more

 Czur- the kind of tech that can solve so many problems for students and teachers everywhere! 

So I'm breaking my rule.  I rarely report on crowdfunding projects but this time I am making an exception.  If your child has a hard time reading, sustaining attention when reading, and maybe even writing, this is a piece of ed tech news you don't want to miss...

WHAT: CZUR and Jenn's Tech Tips for Language-Based Learning Challenges

If they deliver what they promise, the Czur will allow you to scan any book super quickly, as in...a whole book in 5 minutes.  And this is groundbreaking but you may not know this unless you are already involved in trying to help children read and write better with technology. So if you're already well-versed in the world of text-to-speech and word prediction then skip this list and find out how to get this scanner at the crowdfunding price.

Proactive Tech Tips

I'm calling them proactive instead of assistive. (I'll explain later) This list can be helpful to kids with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and kids who have trouble staying focused.

  1. You have probably tried which we all know is crazy expensive. There isn't even any text but there is lovely narration, Still, I don't have $25 to spend on EACH audiobook.
    My testers and I like the Epic! Book subscription app.  It's worth the money for sure. I'm a subscriber. 
  2. You may have a nice book subscription app like Epic! which allows you to find books via your tablet that comes with pictures and some even have read-to-me functions. (professionally narrated, not a bot) There are more books for 8-year-olds than 11-year-olds. They don't do the highlight-as-it-reads-function but if you want it, subscribe and then tell them!
  3. You may be using e-book readers like Kindle or Nook and they let you change font sizing and line spacing and let you highlight but they rarely have a book with read-to-me functions.  And you can't print out from it which makes me look at them like half-books. How many of us have seen our kids come home with photocopied chapters of books from school.
    Bookshare has apps on iOS and Android and a Web-based reader too. So you can simply search for a book, download and start reading in 60 seconds!

  4. Would you turn away free money? No, then you should have account at Bookshare. It's FREE for qualified students K-12! (a legit note/form from therapist/teacher is enough)  They have apps that read to your child too. You can find the book you need online or on an app and store it there.  It is the best thing ever! They even have school textbooks and they take requests!
    Thank you Mr. Winston Chen, creator of Voice Dream Reader and Writer! Thank you for putting it on the Android too!
  5. My all time favorite reading app is Voice Dream Reader. It works with my accounts in Bookshare, Dropbox, Evernote, G-Drive etc.. It costs only $10! The voices sound great. ($3-$5 ea but has default voice) It stores my books and pdf docs and I can listen to them, pluck out text, highlight, print...  It also reads to me like the way a karaoke machine cues the words. It's excellent multi-sensory learning. Reading a book without Voice Dream is like going to work tomorrow and asking your boss to pay you less even though you'll still do the same job.  (Android, iOS)   Please make sure you check out my article about this at Quartz!!!!  There is also Voice Dream Writer which is just as excellent!
    This is   I am using the Word Prediction feature in Google docs. 
  6. Look up It's an affordable option especially via Google Chrome. You can try it out for free for a month. The Google Chrome version is free for teachers too! Tools included: text to speech, speech to text, word prediction, spell check there's more. (Chrome, Windows, Mac, iPad, Android)  Also helpful is Grammarly. The basic service via Google Chrome is free too.
    Grammarly can help you when using Google docs or their own app extension or even in Facebook!
  7. You probably want to try investing in  Microsoft OneNote . I find that it is easier to teach children how to organize themselves this way. Files and folders are great for grown-ups but not so much for kids. I think OneNote is easier for kids than Evernote because the format is a notebook with colorful tabs. My 11-year-old likes OneNote and he knows that everything syncs via the cloud which is great for creative kids who leave papers everywhere and lose stuff constantly. (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Web-browser)
    Using OneNote and the Surface 3 pen is really fun. I am testing this out right now. I put a $25 dollar TILE on his pen so that he is less likely to lose it. 

    He scanned this HW with his Android using Office Lens (an app) and it goes directly to his OneNote and then he starts writing into the document within his OneNote notebook.  This is the hp Spectre X360, for the grownups in this house and it's not cheap but worth every penny. Ideal for college kids who works a lot on his computer. 

  8. If your child's writing looks like it did in 1st grade, please have him start using a computer. Do not wait for "the right time." Because there is no such thing. Using a computer is not just about learning how to type, it's also about learning how to create, learning how to choose the right program to make your creation, learning how to edit what you created, learning how to save it and find it again.  It's not going to be easy but if your child is experiencing frustration then try updating his tools. Using pencil and paper is like working using a broken computer that works only sometimes. After a while, you'll just give up. It's time to invest in another method, he's headed in that direction anyway. I mean, what do people who work use?
    This is the Toshiba Encore 2 Write 10" that I am using to fill out this worksheet that was scanned by my scanner. I am waiting for Microsoft to put the Office Lens app into the Windows store so that our Surface 3 can become a crazy great scanner that is is on my Android and iOS. 

  9.  If your child is using a computer but so much of the school work is on those fabulous worksheets then scan it in and do the work on OneNote or Kami. It's basically like writing on top of a worksheet but you can type onto it instead.  If you have a tablet computer with stylus like the Surface 3 or a Toshiba Encore 2 Write 8 or 10, then you can use the camera to capture the worksheet and save it as a pdf, and then write on top of it using a stylus or a keyboard and the words will come out typed! (Keyboard is a separate purchase.) This way, they end up with something beautiful, legible, and useful to read and correct more easily by the teacher.
  10. But what if you have a workbook and you always have  to write in it and you never know which page, and you don't have a scanner and there is no digital version..  and .... and ....

CZUR on Indiegogo

So this is why I am discussing CZUR today but I want to make sure you know why it can be so helpful to you and hence I created that list above.  CZUR would make all of them so much more useful.  They have already been funded over 600% but if you want their scanner at the crowdfunding price then you have to get it now. At $189 or $199, it's a pretty penny but it can stand to make life so much better.
  • Think about how any book that comes home from school can be scanned in minutes and then you can have your favorite app read them to you.
  • Free up a library book faster. No more late return penalties.
  • If they forgot that book at school, have no fear... you have a copy in the cloud.
  • And they can write all over their book now because it's their copy and you can keep doing this forever.
  • Think about all their notebooks from school and all that artwork that you don't want to throw out. Just scan it baby!
  • Old docs that you never look at except for once a year? Can't find it either. You can safely throw them out after you quickly scan them and OCR will help you find them if you are awful with organization.

Last thing: Why I call this proactive instead of assistive technology.

Well, what is technology if it is not assistive? It's like calling it a "helpful helper." 

For some reason, calling something helpful, necessary, "a boost" is a good enough reason for an adult to get it but sometimes, for kids, what is "helpful" becomes a philosophical or character issue.

So call it proactive tech- because in this country, it is considered almost immoral to hinder proactivity. Thank you Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Henry Ford for setting that culture. We even have it in our Bill of Rights. "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." No one is allowed to stand in their way of their "pursuit."
But our school district just bought thousands of e-readers.... you say?
When they say "erasing fingerprint" they mean that CZUR erases the scan of your finger from the document (because it moves that fast).

Sometimes assistive tech or ed tech is good-but-just-not-good-enough-tech. ie... DRM (digital rights management). E-books are great as we can manipulate the appearance of the words but some devices are INTENTIONALLY designed to prevent you from photocopying and distributing and we can't even get it to read to us. All the reading apps in the world can't solve the problem of inaccessibility unless we can use our books the way we want. So here goes.... 

CZUR totally reminds me of the tape dubber. Remember how you could fill that little hole on the cassette tape and voila you can copy that tape to another tape to make a mix tape for your special someone? The thing is, there is nothing wrong with this because you are basically copying something that you own... all for private use. 

Just like how the teacher photocopied a book so that each child could have a copy in front of them.  She did not sell them. In fact, it took forever making and stapling all those copies... especially those darn double sided ones.  She gave it to students to use so that they didn't have to share and they could all read something together but comfortably. Sure it would be better if she gave each child their own copy but there is no budget for that. This is our fault, not the teacher's.

Speaking of budget, this scanner meets a lot of budgets. Will this scanner disrupt the industry? The tape dubber didn't. For the most part, scanning is okay as long as it is for private use.  You might find it useful for the office but as a family or even a classroom or a school. Just think, no more black splotches from scanning bound books that won't flatten, wasting tons of toner! Heck, a school might save money and time, huh? Scan a book once and no teacher has to stand in front of the copy machine for that book ever again. For me, I don't know how much money I'd save. I think I might be able to buy more books now. I love books with diagrams and photos. I connect with them better and I think kids do too.

Recommended reading:
The Advantages of Dyslexia by Matthew Schneps
This Software Guy Accidentally Created an App that is Saving my Dyslexic Son - by me- Jenn Choi!

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturers of anything mentioned here for the publication of this story.  Some of the mentioned items/services were provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised and this isn't even a review!  It's just a quick list of tools and I will write more this year at and/or Quartz. If you have questions, now is the time!!! Leave it in the comments box!

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