Some of you will know that I used to be an SEN teacher and I still maintain an interest in using ICT to teach Special Needs learners. My attention was, therefore, drawn to a website that claimed to have information on using ipod touches and ipads with SEN learners. The work was based over in the United States, so one problem I anticipated might be that some of the apps they employed could not be available here in the UK, also, where the apps were being charged for, there would need to be some small conversion in currency necessary.
What I hadn’t expected was that there would be some technical problems viewing the information! On the website there are links to 3 presentations on the use of the devices in Special Education settings, unfortunately it was not possible to download the presentations and viewing them seemed slow. So what I eventually decided to do was to view each slide and take a screen capture of it and then place it in a PowerPoint presentation; at the same time I’d update the prices and availability in for the UK. I know, I know, it was all rather crude but it did seem to me that the presentations had some very useful information which would be well worth sharing. I also would like to congratulate the authors in their work identifying the various apps available.
What has surprised me, though, and with some annoyance are the charges being made for these apps. There seem to be only a few free apps in the selection and some seem to cost a small fortune. I am not against people earning a living but on the other hand we are talking about the needs of some of our most vulnerable members of society, surely they are entitled to free apps as much as mainstream learners? Anyway, I’ll leave you to make your own decisions on that matter.
I have managed to update the first presentation here
and the second one is here
The third part is here
What I like about these presentations is that they clearly show that handheld devices can be of use in Special Education and for special needs pupils in mainstream establishments. Obviously, not all the apps in these presentations will be appropriate for each pupil or even each establishment but these presentations do give some justification for special educators to consider using these devices with their pupils.
I’ve only been able to download and test a few of the apps; the free ones, of course. They seem to work as well as you’d expect them to. I have only been able to use them on an ipod touch (3rd gen) and I would suspect that for some learners the small size of the device and the close proximity of the icons in some apps might be a problem. I do not have a ipad but the larger form factor might make this more suitable for many special needs learners. However, one thing that does strike me about the ipad is that it looks awkward or cumbersome to carry and use and this might be a problem in some circumstances. Nevertheless, either device could be held in the hand, placed on a desk or attached to a chair or wheelchair; making them quite versatile.
If you use any of the apps here or use the ipod touch or ipad in any way with special needs learners, please contact me; I would be really grateful to hear about your work and pass it on to others.
- New iPod touch (elearningstuff.wordpress.com)
- iPossibilities: iPods and iPads in Special Education (teachinglearnerswithmultipleneeds.blogspot.com)
- Merck PSE HD – iPhone App of the Week (elearningstuff.net)