Is it the best tool out there? For AT needs, it depends. For a classroom tool, it depends. We need to look at the concerns and all of our options before we can make that decision. There are pros and cons to everything, even the iPad! It really is not the answer to everything.
Parents are also often using the iPad as a reward and/or keep them busy and quiet tool. Once it is seen as a game, it is often hard to start using it as a tool.
How to use an iPad in the classroom with a group? A couple of thoughts -
- Teacher directs, students watch.
- Teacher directs, with iPad in the middle of the group and students touch with instruction.
- Teacher instructs and iPad is passed between students. Use as part of your lesson, part of your center activity.
- Teacher instructs and the students use, independently or in a team situation.
- Team learning situations. Hand a group of students an iPad with a purpose.
Question- "Do you use the computer (or iPad)?"
Question- "What do you do on the computer (iPad)?"
Answer- "I play games."
Use the iPad as a tool, not a toy - this is a school, a learning environment after all! Technology should not be your babysitter!
- We are seeing that the iPad often encourages interactivity. Students will share a lot of what they're doing, ask each other "How did you do that?" or, "Oh, look what I did!"
- They want to problem solve together.
- It encourages group discussions between the students.
- They tend to help each other a lot more.
- It is affordable, comparatively speaking (see below.)
- Ease of access – no need to be able to operate a mouse, a switch or to need to sit a certain way. The iPad can easily come to the student, be placed where they need it and the touch required is extremely friendly. (Not for all!! Remember, this is very individual.)
- Simplicity of programs – from very basic to more complex, many apps are design to be user friendly. For the moderate to severe population of students the amount of simple apps is huge, plus they are extremely inexpensive and visually draw students in.
- Simplicity of use - many who cannot understand how to operate a computer, can understand how to operate an iPad. (Even your grandmother!)
- Low cost of programs – compared to the cost of software programs for a computer, there really is no comparison (unless you consider the abundant amount of free programs available on the Internet. And yes, please continue using those!).
- There are apps designed specifically for our population (see other postings to right). Designing apps for education has become quite the market. The amount of apps designed specifically for special education has grown so much that there is now a category for it that stands alone in the iTunes Store.
- Assistive Technology and Communication Apps are available that help to make this a tool for access support, not just a tool for learning (i.e. audio books, word prediction, visual prompts, etc.)
- It can be loaded with many adaptive technology gadgets and programs, thereby reducing the need for multiple devices. Talk about UDL (Universal Design for Learning)! This is a tool that can level the playing field for many.
- There are apps that are inexpensive and exciting to increase vocabulary, sight words, math facts, reading comprehension, organizational skills, and drawing skills, just to name a few.It can be very educational and in the classroom, this is what we want: exciting, fresh, innovative teaching tools.
- Built-in accessibility tools such as zoom and high contrast display make this a tool to support visually impaired. The built-in VoiceOver screen reader works as well on the iPad as on the iPhone. For our VI population, the options are growing and growing. (However, consider that it may be the iPhone that is the best solution for those with significant vision impairments.)
- Programs such as Siri, speech-to-text, word prediction are free, no paper and pencil needed if one can speak clearly or recognize words, for writing text messages, e-mail, maybe documents.
- The brilliant screen of the iPad which creates and supports visual interest - with the ever improving HD colors which are bright and the HD video and/or camera- tools at our fingertips that can be pulled into our educational artillery in so many new and innovative ways.
- The right case can make it much less indestructible. (Often the case, the right case, stylus and/or mounting system, is what makes it an AT tool.)
- More and more tools are being developed to help with access. (See my Pinterest site for specifics.)
- Light weight (iPad = 1.5 lbs.)
- Instant Response/Instant On/Fast Processor.
- Less space: I can have my textbook open and my iPad to take notes. When I used the computer, I had to have my aide take my notes because I couldn’t have both in front of me.
- I can lift the iPad myself. When I use the computer I have to have someone set it up for me. My iPad can be tucked into the side of my chair and I can reach it.
- Power: with my laptop I always had to be near an outlet or make sure the laptop was charged for the classes that didn’t have outlets. My iPad is always ready to go.
- Waiting: there is no waiting for windows to start. I slide the bar and I am ready to work.
- Independent: because of my fatigue level often I tire out moving the mouse before I am done working. Now I can finish a worksheet because I don’t have to move as much as I did.
- Enlarging: I don’t have to worry if the photocopier is down or my aide forgot to change font size, I can enlarge text by dragging the content and scrolling.
- Dictionary at hand: All I have to do is tap on the word and my dictionary opens on the iPad. In the past, I had to highlight the word, open IE and then go to dictionary.com and paste my word. Now it is one step instead of 4-5 steps.
- Copy and pasting is two easy steps: highlight and copy comes right up. With the computer I need to use the mouse or the keyboard to highlight text, right click or go to edit to copy, open a second document to paste (edit paste or right click and paste), now I can paste to a clipboard within seconds instead of minutes.
- Speed: I am faster. I am independent. I am the student I can be with the iPad. With the computer I was a student. But I am not independent. I have to wait for someone to assist me. I worked three times as hard with ¼ of the result.
- Educational Activities: With the iPad I can have activities that directly support my IEP goals. Practice shouldn’t be boring.
- Wireless printing: No need to connect to a computer or printer to be able to print from across the room.
- BookSense (mp3 player/radio/clock/recorder and portable Daisy reading device) -- $449
- Talking watch - $43
- Plustek Optibook 3800 scanner -- $269
- Laptop computer -- $500
- Digital camera with digital view finder -- $200
- Video camera -- $200
- Total $1,161
- ZoomText magnifier/screen reader -- $599
- ZoomText keyboard -- $99
- Dragon NautrallySpeaking Pro voice recognition -- $599
- Kurzweil 3000 (scan/read software) $1,395
- Aladdin Classic video magnifier -- $1,595
- Total $4,357
- Medical Alert system -- $600/year
- Handheld digital i-loview magnifier/reader -- $495
- Trekker Breeze (GPS for blind) -- $930
- KNFB Reader (portable scanner/OCR) -- $897
- Voice Mate PDA (calendar, contacts, calculator) -- $260
- Total $3,182
- Grand Total $8,700"
- Users to date are finding that through the use of different apps, students are able to choose the type of product they construct to demonstrate their understanding.
- The iPad is a personal device and reasonably priced to act as a 1 to 1, anywhere, anytime learning device.
- The abundance of apps and access to information on a vast range of topics allows students to pursue areas they are interested in learning about.
- Notes can be kept in one spot, commented on and available anywhere.
- The touch interface correlates to the technology students use in their everyday life and allows a high level of interactivity.
- A 10 hour battery life means the iPad can be used throughout the entire school day.
- The instant start-up of the iPad means greater use of class time for learning.
- There is anywhere, anytime access to current information that contains text, sound, images and interactivity. Information is represented with rich multimedia and data visualization techniques.
- Light and portable, easily carried in the school bag and to and from class.
- Heavy schoolbooks could in time be replaced by virtual eBooks and these can be updated in a timely fashion. Documents and tasks can be uploaded to iBooks by the teacher and downloaded onto the iPad by the student and vice versa. Texts and documents can be annotated and commented on by multiple students and teachers.
- The iPad is seen to be an intuitive device and minimal technical support is required.
- The iPad can be used with peripherals. For example the iPad can be slotted into a case which connects to a full size keyboard for extended periods of writing. There are also a number of other docking options which provide access to a full sized keyboard. Voice recognition apps can also be useful for inputting large amounts of text and is another option worth investigating.
iPads with Moderate to Severe Students:
- Experimental - looking, listening, responding
- Make something happen - touch anywhere, touch somewhere - cause and effect
- Touching a target - find it, find them
- Complete simple sequence - all in a line, touch to jump
- This video called “Special Education and the iPad” features Dennis Lamme, a special education student who uses the iPad to further his learning. The video was shot and edited on an iPod Touch.
- The Times tells the story of Owen Cain, who has a degenerative disease called spinal muscular atrophy. He acquired the disease as an infant, and there is no known cure for it. Although his parents bought him a number of computer devices to make his life more pleasant, they were all failures -- until he met the iPad.
- iHelp for Autism - Autistic children like Leo Rosa are showing remarkable promise on the iPad. Read more about autistic children and iPads in Ashley Harrell's feature story.
- Leo's life was transformed when a five-dollar raffle ticket turned into a brand-new iPad: The iPad: a Near-Miracle for My Son With Autism.
- Laura Theriot, mother of 10-year-old Tom, knows firsthand how incredible that breakthrough can be. Using Proloquo2Go on the iPad, she has learned things about Tom through conversation that she’d never imagined over the years.
- The benefits of Proloquo2Go on the iPad are not restricted to children, as blogger Glenda Watson Hyatt points out. Glenda has cerebral palsy that affects her motor skills and her speech. She recently bought an iPad and Proloquo2Go. Watch account of the way it has changed her life.
- Wall Street Journal’s Jennifer Valentino-DeVries discusses iPad Gives Special Needs Kids a Boost.
- School use of iPad technology and apps for students by Tracy Lynn Cook of the Examiner, offers great ideas for how to use apps to support education with special needs students.
Now go out and make this tool a wonderful addition to our educational world!