A revamped, less-complicated 'Clicker' with word predictor is essential viewing for John Galloway
Clicker, from Crick Software, is a program that has been popular for many years, partly because of its usefulness in helping to create more inclusive classrooms. But also because it has continued to develop, each version maintaining the essential elements of the Crick brand and building on them to provide something better.
This sixth iteration is no exception and is a must-see for anyone working in special needs.
When it started Clicker was a grid of words on a screen that helped children with mobility difficulties to write. Then it got its own word processor, and then the grids morphed into more than just writing tools to provide a host of different sorts of activities – matching, sorting, labelling and communicating. However, as it became a program that offered so much more, it also demanded more skills from school staff to create bespoke learning activities. Sure, there have always been a host of activities available online to cover just about every area of the curriculum, but they couldn't possibly cover the needs of every individual user.
Clicker 6 sorts much of this complexity out, maintaining the flexibility and diversity of this as a classroom resource, while making it easier to quickly make your own learning materials. This has come about from developers listening to classroom practitioners and taking their comments on board.
Now there are templates to work with, and also wizards to walk you through the process of creating your own grids. Then there are simplified procedures. A set of picture grids, for example, can be made by selecting the required images in a dialog box, specifying how many to a page, then clicking "okay". Grids using text for writing can be made in a similar way, selecting the words then dropping them into a grid.
Other developments include the ability to insert photos directly from a webcam, useful if you want pupils to be the subject of their own activities. The tools from Clicker Paint have now been integrated, so this is no longer a separate program, and a word predictor has been provided, too.
Other features are designed to make it more useable, such as easily changing the font and background colours in the word processor, and being able to have more than one grid open at a time, each of them tabbed along the bottom. And a 'favourites' area means regularly used grids are just one click away.
Everything teachers have come to expect from Clicker is still there – a talking word processor with image bank, activities for sorting and matching, talking books and communication grids. Now they are easier to create, the process of including images, graphics, and symbols from different sources has been simplified, and it has become even more accessible.
Clicker has come along way from being focused on meeting the needs of pupils with physical disabilities, to being an essential tool of the inclusive classroom, appropriate for learners of all abilities. Crick Software has developed benchmarks that have brought it success globally and even a name check from education secretary Michael Gove MP when he opened the BETT 2012 educational technology exhibition in January.
Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose 5
Ease of use 4
Value for money 4
Originally designed for special needs but now useful for all abilities, Clicker 6 is a multi-faceted software writing tool that includes word processor, word grids, word prediction, 'Clear Voice' speech technology, graphics capability and picture library, templates and wizards and more. Available for Windows PCs and Macs, from £150 for single user licence, and from £300 for one-school, five-user site licence to £1,800 for a full school site licence.
John Galloway works as advisory teacher for ICT/SEN and inclusion in Tower Hamlets, London, and as a freelance writer and consultant. He is the author of Harnessing Technology for Every Child Matters and Personalised Learning and runs his own blog.