Learning Technology Resources

Our office has identified a variety of free and open source learning technology resources.  These recommendations have been received from reliable sources; however, you are responsible for any issues associated with the download or installation of software on your personal computer. If you are interested in information about commercial programs that address similar items as discussed below, please contact our office or research the Internet.

Not sure where to begin?  We recommend you start with a free VARK assessment to help you understand how you tend to approach learning.  After you this assessment, review the following links to see what might work best for you and your learning. 

Take the Visual, Aural, Read/Write and Kinesthetic Assessment now >>

Types of programs available

Concept Mapping Programs

A concept map is a diagram showing the relationships among concepts usually represented by a shape, such as boxes or circles, which are connected with arrows. They can be used for organizing and representing information or knowledge.  You can use concept mapping techniques in taking class or reading notes and in pre-paper writing exercises.

  • Brainstorm online with bubbl.us. Easily create colorful mindmaps to print or share with others. Almost no learning curve.  This program does not require you to download anything to your computer.  Learn more about Bubbl.us >> 
  • CmapTools is a software suite that facilitates the collaborative construction, sharing and publishing of knowledge models represented as concept maps.  Under the Download button, you can select (1) CmapTools for your computer, (2) CmapTools for iPad or (3) Cmap Cloud & CmapTools in the Cloud.  Learn more about CMAP Tools >> 
  • FreeMind is a premier free mind-mapping software written in Java.  This is a program you will have to download to your computer.  Learn more about FreeMind >>
  • Simple Mapper was developed to power a web site on the brain.  You can use it to organize what comes out of yours, to make a concept map that shows relationships between concepts and ideas, to make a network diagram that shows interactions between people, molecules, stars, or any group of things or to make a workflow that shows how something works.  While you need to register for this website, you do not need to download software to your computer.  Learn more about SimpleMapper >

Dictionary and Thesaurus Programs

Dictionary programs can help you find a variety of information. The obvious reason for using a dictionary is to find a definition. However, you can also look up the word's function or part of speech, the pronunciation, and origins or roots of words. In some cases, using a dictionary program can help confirm the spelling of a word.

  • Word Web look up words in almost any Windows program with just one click.  This program is on-line and does not require you to download software to your computer.  Learn more about Word Web >> 
  • Merriam-Webster is a free online dictionary, thesaurus, Spanish-English and medical dictionaries with audio pronunciations and more.  This program is on-line and does not require you to download software to your computer. Learn more about Merriam-Webster >>
  • Cambridge on-line dictionary is a free Online English Dictionary & Thesaurus, translation from English to Spanish & Turkish and Spanish to English and other language resources. This program is on-line and does not require you to download software to your computer. Learn more about the Cambridge online dictionary (English and Spanish) >>
  • Visual Thesaurus is an online thesaurus and dictionary of over 145,000 words that you explore and visualize using an interactive map. This program is on-line and does not require you to download software to your computer. Learn more about Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus >>

Hearing Assistance Programs

Hearing Assistive Technology makes sound accessible to people with a hearing loss. Through technology, people with hearing loss are gaining improved access to information. Some programs of interested are identified in the links below.

  • MAGpie (Media Access Generator) is the original free caption- and audio-description authoring tool for making multimedia accessible to persons with sensory disabilities.  Learn more about MAGpie >>

Keyboarding Programs

There are two types of keyboarding programs identified below. One is for learning or improving your typing skills and the other is a virtual keyboard designed for anyone with difficulty typing on a physical computer keyboard.

Magnification Program

Some individual's needs are met with use of a larger monitor, lowering screen resolution, or altering font choice and size. However, in other cases more magnification is necessary. Magnification software will magnify the text and graphics that appear in programs and applications. Many magnification programs are designed to work like a magnifying glass moving over a page. Programs can automatically follow the cursor, magnifying the area around it. Several programs are identified below.

  • Another Lens displays a magnified view of the area of the mouse cursor. Learn more about Another Lens >> 
  • Magnifixer is a screen magnifier utility. You can place it anywhere on your screen, make it any size you want and select a zoom level. Magnifixer will always show the area of your screen where the mouse cursor resides. Learn more about Magnifier >> 
  • Super Magnify magnifies portions of your screen up to 15 times. With special interpolation routine to maintain detail when magnifying. 32 bit Freeware program.  Learn more about Super Magnify >> 
  • Zoom is a screen enlargement utility. It displays a floating window that shows an enlarged view of the area around the cursor. Learn more about Zoom >> 

Math Related Programs

There are many resources available for assistance with math related topics. This can include information on text-to-speech for math (Math Player), online calculators and writing math on the computer. 

Screen Reader Programs

A screen reader is a software application that attempts to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen. In many cases this is done through some form of text-to-speech; however, a full screen reader will allow access to more than just the text content, it also allows access to menu bars etc.

  • NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free and open source screen reader for the Microsoft Windows operating system. Learn more about Non-Visual Desktop Reader (NVDA) >> 
  • Orca is a free, open source, flexible, and extensible screen reader that provides access to the graphical desktop via user-customizable combinations of speech and/or brailleLearn more about ORCA >> 
  • Thunder is award-winning free screenreader talking software for people with little or no sight. It works well with Windows 7, Vista or XP. Thunder is available all over the world in several languages and it really is absolutely FREE!  Learn more about Thunder >>

Speech-to-Text Programs

Speech-to-Text converts spoken words to text. It may also be referred to as dictation software. It allows for entering information into the computer without the physical use of the keyboard.

  • Online Dictation is an online speech to text program that supports multiple languages.  You will need a microphone either built into your system or external.  Learn more about Online Dictation>>
  • SpeachNotes  is a powerful speech-enabled online notepad, designed to empower your ideas by implementing a clean & efficient design, so you can focus on your thoughts. We strive to provide the best online dictation tool by engaging cutting-edge speech-recognition technology for the most accurate results technology can achieve today, together with incorporating built-in tools (automatic or manual) to increase users' efficiency, productivity and comfort. Works entirely online in your Chrome browser. No download, no install and even no registration needed, so you can start working right away.  Learn more about SpeachNotes>>
  • SpeechPad is a voice recognition application for converting speech to text (a good external microphone is strongly recommended). It can also convert an audio file to text. The current version of Speech Pad works only for the Chrome browser.  Learn more about SpeachPad>>

Text-to-Speech Programs

Text to Speech software allows the computer to read most documents aloud. Many programs work in several applications, e.g. word processing, web browsing, etc; however, some are specific to one piece of software. Open source text-to-speech programs have a range of voices from which to choose. Students may need to try difference programs to find a voice that works for them.

  • Balabolka is a Text-To-Speech (TTS) program. All computer voices installed on your system are available to Balabolka. The on-screen text can be saved as a WAV, MP3, MP4, OGG or WMA file. The program can read the clipboard content, view the text from AZW, CHM, DjVu, DOC, EPUB, FB2, HTML, LIT, MOBI, ODT, PRC, PDF and RTF files, customize font and background colour, control reading from the system tray or by the global hotkeys. Requires MS Windows.  Learn more about Balabolka >> 
  • Capti Narrator allows individuals to organize playlists, read web articles, simplify layout of texts and more. You can switsch playlists between multiple devices and use with other programs including screen readers, Boohskare, Google Drive and Others. Learn more about Capti Narrator >>
    between their devices, so it is really the most advanced reading technology.
    And you probably already saw the list of the most notable features in my previous email.
  • NaturalReader is a Text to Speech software with natural sounding voices. This easy-to-use software can read to you any text such as Microsoft Word files, webpages, PDF files, and E-mails. NaturalReader can also convert any written text into audio files such as MP3 or WAV for your CD player or iPod (paid version).  Options for Windows or Mac version.  Learn more about Natural Reader >> 
  • The Ultra Hal Text-to-Speech Reader application will read your documents out loud in one of its many high quality voices.  Learn more about UltraHal >>

Audio Description

"Audio description" refers to an additional narration track of information in visual media that describes what is happening.  This description generally occurs during the natural pauses in the audio. 

  • "LiveDescribe" is free software that allows "the home user as well as the studio professional" to add high quality descriptions to virtual any video source" therefore increasing the overall accessibility of the media.  Visit LiveDescribe for more information

Open Source Projects

Open source projects are more global in nature. They generally deal with non-profit projects and cover a variety of programs in one location. Two known projects are Project Possibility and EduApps.

Project Possibility

A non-profit community service project that aims to create open source software that is designed for people who have disabilities including a variety of educational tools, word prediction, music in screen-reader friendly format, and an accessible currency converter.  Learn more about Project Possibility >>

EduApps Project

An initiative developed by the JISC Regional Support Centre Scotland North East and consists of four different collections of incredibly useful software:

  • AccessApps are e-learning solutions to support reading, writing, and planning as well as sensory, cognitive and physical difficulties.
  • LearnApps are applications with learning in mind (including some games).
  • MyStudyBar is a floating toolbar to support literacy.
  • TeachApps are applications specifically for developing and testing learning materials.

Learn more about EduApps Project >>