Online Brainstorming Tools: Inspiration and Webspiration Reviewed

Each week, the Education Techie reviews tech tools that can help students and teachers. This week, the Techie is discussing brainstorming tools. Today's review: Inspiration and Webspiration.

inspiration education diagram

What Is It?

Inspiration and Webspiration are similar products that allow students and teachers to make visual presentations. Inspiration is available as a download while Webspiration is currently in public beta testing (which means it is currently available for free online). There is also a classroom version of Webspiration that has been fully developed and is available for purchase.

Both Inspiration and Webspiration Classroom have 30-day free trials available. After the free trial period, Inspiration costs $69 for a download of the basic software package. Other purchase options, including a download with CD backup and volume licenses, are available. Webspiration Classroom is available for an individual 1-year subscription at prices ranging from $39-$110. You can also purchase 1-, 2- or 3-year classroom subscriptions in groups of 10, 30 or 40. These range in price from $110 for a 1-year, 10-classroom subscription to $1040 for a 3-year, 40-classroom subscription.

For this review, I downloaded the trial version of Inspiration and signed up for a Webspiration account. I did not sign up for Webspiration classroom, because that program is configured for multiple users.

How Do These Programs Work?

The three programs have very similar basic functions, emphasizing the use of visuals to outline ideas. In each, you are given the option to create a diagram or an outline. Inspiration has an additional mapping feature. Diagrams are made with visual aids, including flowchart shapes and pictures, and outlines are text-only. The shapes and tools in each program are very similar. Users can control elements like font type and appearance, fill color of shapes and line thickness. Users can also add free-form drawings and shapes or can select from a library of images to add to their diagrams.

diagram screenshot

With Webspiration and Webspiration Classroom, you can also collaborate with other users in real time by using a built-in chat function. Webspiration Classroom's individual classroom accounts are accompanied by a school administrator account that allows one user to set up, make changes to and oversee all of the separate classroom accounts.

What Makes Them Cool?

I reviewed several brainstorming tools, but none of them are specifically designed for educational purposes the way these three programs are. Inspiration, Webspiration and Webspiration Classroom all have specific features for teachers and students. There are even lesson plan books available from the Inspiration website. These cover topics like how to use the software to meet curriculum standards.

One feature that each of the programs has is the ability to use one button to automatically switch between a visual diagram and a text-only outline. This makes it easier to keep track of what the diagram you're making represents. Another bonus for these programs is the fact that they offer extensive help sections. In some cases, there are introductory videos that give new users a visual orientation to the program. Even though the programs are similar, each one is given its own help section.

What Are Their Drawbacks?

I didn't find any serious drawbacks in any of these programs. They all have a variety of applications and are easy to use. They do lack top-of-the line graphics, but for for classroom purposes, they do a great job. This just may not be the program to use for professional presentations. Some of the other brainstorming tools I'll review this week have much more polished graphics.

Where Can I Find Them?

Inspiration Software makes all of these programs. Click here to find out more and take a look at their other education-friendly software programs.

The Education Techie will continue to review brainstorming tools this week and next. Check back for these product reviews, and don't forget to read this review of Gliffy.

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