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iPad Scotland Evaluation is published

By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 13th November, 2012 at 4:10pm

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Earlier this year eight schools in Scotland participated in a study which asked “How does the use of tablet devices (e.g. the iPad) impact on teaching and learning?”

Given the huge interest in iPads, this is a good question to ask, and even  better to answer!

Researchers at the University of Hull have just published the project report here, and it makes interesting reading for anyone interested in iPads and tablet computers in schools. The Key Findings are reproduced below:

"1. Use of tablet devices such as the iPad was found to facilitate the achievement of many of the core elements required within the Curriculum for Excellence framework and could be further developed in order to achieve these aspirations.

2. The adoption of a personalised device such as an iPad significantly transforms access to and use of technology inside the classroom with many attendant benefits:

  • Many teachers noted that ubiquitous access to the Internet and other knowledge tools associated with the iPad altered the dynamics of their classroom and enabled a wider range of learning activities to routinely occur than had been possible previously.
  • The device also encouraged many teachers to explore alternative activities and forms of assessment for learning
3. Personal ‘ownership’ of the device is seen as the single most important factor for successful use of this technology:
This is seen as the critical element:
  • in increasing student levels of motivation, interest and engagement;
  • in promoting greater student autonomy and self-efficacy;
  • in encouraging students to take more responsibility for their own learning.
Evidence suggests that greater personal ownership of the iPad may also contribute to more interdisciplinary activity.
4. The individual possession of and early familiarisation with the iPad by teachers was seen as being responsible for the significant ‘buy in’ and low level of resistance from teachers:
  • The iPad engaged both teachers and students equally well.
  • Many members of school and Local Authority management teams commented that the deployment and effective use of iPad technology had been the most easily accepted, successful and problem-free initiative they had ever witnessed.
5. As a result of the pilot initiative schools are reconsidering their existing technology deployments with a view to more mobile provision:
  • Some schools have decided that because of their experiences with the iPad their existing ICT suites of computers will not be replaced in future.
  • Many schools reported that teachers and students were using iPads every day and in most lessons.
  • Little formal training or tuition to use the devices was required by teachers; they learned experientially through play and through collaboration with colleagues and students.
6. The device is bringing about significant changes in the way teachers approach their professional role as educators and is changing the way they see themselves and their pedagogy:
  • Teachers noted that iPads had promoted more collaboration between them and students
  • Teachers now see many students coaching and teaching their peers without the intervention of the class teacher
  • Software and applications (e.g. screen recording apps) support these processes and resultant changes in pedagogy
  • The use of iPads has enabled many more students to express their creativity, to engage in peer assessment and in group critique.
  • Teachers have seen the emergence of a real learning community that extends beyond the academic to include a partnership between students and teachers who work closely together.
  • Students report that within a month of the pilot starting, they noticed from their perspective that the quality of teaching seemed to have improved.
  • Class teachers feel that the functionality of these devices better supports students of all abilities.
  • Teachers reported that iPads allowed them to develop and extend homework and provide better feedback to students about their learning.
7. Parents also appear to become more engaged with the school and their child’s learning when the iPad travels home with the student:
  • The overwhelming majority of parents believe that students should be allowed to use mobile technologies in their school before they reach the secondary stage and reported that their children gained significant positive dispositions towards learning as a result of access to the iPad.
  • Over 80 per cent of parents considered the pilot project to have been valuable for their child despite its short duration and say it has significantly changed their child’s enjoyment of and attitude towards school.
  • Parents say that greater motivation, interest and engagement of their child with learning have been the single largest benefits.
  • Over 90 per cent of students believe that the iPad has helped them to learn more and to learn more difficult concepts and ideas better.
  • 75 per cent felt that their children were now more willing to complete homework.
  • Many noticed that their children were now more willing to talk to them about their school work.
8. Education departments and associated services within Local Authorities were perceived to have been helpful towards the iPad initiative and to have worked hard to support its use although corporate systems sometimes found this challenging:
  • Some concerns surrounded data security and eSafety but schools felt that corporate structures should recognise the need to place more trust in schools and students.
  • Schools felt that the appropriate use of the Internet is primarily a behavioural and educational issue that was within their abilities to address.
  • Schools saw many central or corporate eSafety protocols as unhelpful and counter productive and most felt they prevented them from making full use of iPads.
  • The physical safety of the devices has proved unproblematic and schools reported that students displayed high levels of responsibility and care even when taking iPads home.
  • The iPad itself is simple to operate and is robust and reliable although a number of bulk maintenance and upgrading issues remain to be resolved in schools.
9. Many teachers and students wish to have access to the iPad after the end of the trial and are convinced it has changed learning for the better."

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New App, SimpleAAC

By Sally Millar on Thursday 8th November, 2012 at 8:08pm

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Well,  just one day after yesterday's very successful Using iPads in AAC Study Day, I've just discovered that yet another new AAC App. It's called SimpleAAC, produced by Tony Jones / Unliimiter, and marketed through Ability World.

Have to say, CALL is not endorsing this App as such,  just passing on the info. 

It's confusing - when you find it on the App Store, it says it's Free, but in fact you get a free 7 Day trial (so, time your download carefully) and then after that you have to buy the full App (£124.99) or you are left with 5 non-editable demon screens.

Allowing for 1-20 location screens, the App seems to sit somewhere between the Go Talk Now app (which is top of the range of the simpler AAC Apps, costing £54.99 + £34.99 for a symbol library)) and the full scale symbol AAC Apps like Sonoflex, Touch Chat and P2Go etc. ( £69.99.£99.99, £129.99 respectively)

Interestingly it has a nice English sounding CereProc voice (only if you buy through the UK App Store)  - so maybe we'll figure out how to get the Scottish Voices Heather and Stuart on to iPad some day (not possible right now).

There's an introductory video to view.

The App uses the Unlimiter symbols, which are maybe a bit 'cartoony' for some.

 

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WordTalk problem after Microsoft Office Update?

By Robert Stewart on Thursday 8th November, 2012 at 2:28pm

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A number of users of WordTalk on Windows 7 (64-bit) have reported an error with WordTalk installed with Microsoft Word 2007 or 2010 which looks like it is caused by an Office update and causes the following error:

"Dialog Box Title: Microsoft Visual Basic, Compile Error in Hidden Module: This Document"

A fix for this is detailed on the WordTalk FAQs and goes as follows:

  1. Click the 'Start button' (bottom left) and select 'All Programs';
  2. Click on Accessories;
  3. Right click on 'Command Prompt' and select 'Run as administrator';
  4. Type in: regsvr32 /u c:\windows\SysWOW64\mscomctl.ocx and press return;
  5. Type in: regsvr32 c:\windows\SysWOW64\mscomctl.ocx and press return;
  6. Start-up Microsoft Word and WordTalk should function again.

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Parent Information Day: A focus on iPads

By Robert Stewart on Thursday 8th November, 2012 at 1:59pm

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There are still places available for parents interested in attending CALL’s Parent Information Day on Saturday 24th November 2012. We will focus specifically on the use of iPads and apps for children and young people with additional support needs or disabilities. 

The day will run 10.00 to 2.00pm at CALL Scotland (Edinburgh) and will be a mix of displays, presentations, hands-on and a chance for one-to-one sessions with CALL Scotland staff and, of course, meet other parents.

In response to the many questions raised by parents, teachers and others who work with children with additional support needs CALL has written a new book on the iPad - iPads for Communication, Access, Literacy, and Learning (iCALL). CALL has looked at loads of apps (and there are thousands more), many of which will be discussed and there will be opportunities for hands-on use at workstations. This is an opportunity to have many of your questions about iPads answered in an informal, supportive setting.

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Great wee video celebrating communication & AAC

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 6th November, 2012 at 10:57am

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Call Me Maybe

Take a few minutes to watch this uplifting wee video made by new graduates in speech and language therapy, Queen Margaret University College, as part of the RCSLT's Giving Voice campaign. Terrific enthusiasm, good for them!

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StandUp Comedian using AAC

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 6th November, 2012 at 10:02am

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Look out for comedy gigs by 'Lost Voice Guy' Lee Ridley, and do go and see him if you get the chance - he's FUNNY! Breaking down barriers as the first ever stand-up comedian who uses augmentative communication.

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Stuck in Guided Access (iOS 6) - again!

By Sally Millar on Saturday 3rd November, 2012 at 8:43pm

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Reports still coming in of people 'getting 'stuck' in Guided Access mode on iPad, in iOS6. eeek!

Here's a short but reassuring solution, thanks Katrina and Gregg at Spectronics.

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Free online switch games for the Festive Season

By Sally Millar on Friday 2nd November, 2012 at 3:18pm

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Now that Halloween is over, it's time to think ahead....

Fireworks Night - free online switch/space bar/ games to set off fireworks (and many other cheery activities, such as laying eggs, firing at pirate ships, popping ballons, zooming shapes etc.

also singing sheep leads us to the next stage.....the big Chr...m..s word....

Some free simple online switch (or touch, or spacebar) games here, to get in the mood for Christmas, from SpecialBites. Mostly cause and effect level, perhaps most suitable for older kids with complex additional support needs. Also - if your school will allow access - some fun YouTube videos to activate with a switch or spacebar.

 

 

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Accessing a Games Console

By Allan Wilson on Wednesday 31st October, 2012 at 4:54pm

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We recently received a request for advice on behalf of a man with progressive muscular dystrophy, who currently enjoys playing games on an Xbox. Unfortunately as his condition progresses he is finding it harder to exert enough pressure with his thumbs to control the device. We have lots of equipment for accessing computers, but we don't have anything suitable for accessing a modern games console and we are definitely not experts on using them.

A bit of digging around on the internet identified some possible solutions:

Firstly, it may be possible to make things easier by adjusting the sensitivity of the buttons on the console. There's a YouTube video that shows how this can be done. It may be that he will have to change to using an interface that allows switch access to the console. The best source of information on these would be the One Switch web site.In theory, it is possible to control an Xbox with an iPhone, using a Tecla Shield interface, but it looks complicated. See the Tecla web site.

Can you help?

Have you had experience of helping people with disabilities access the Xbox and other games consoles? Are there 'accessibility settings' built into the consoles? What external interfaces work best? Is it feasible to control a device by voice commands?

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Haunted House

By Joanna Courtney on Wednesday 31st October, 2012 at 4:25pm

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Try out this spooky switch game.....if you dare!

Catch the monsters as they peer through the windows of the Haunted House.

 

Go to www.helpkidzlearn.com/find-out to play

 

Happy Halloween!

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Moving Targets Activities for Doorway Online

By Allan Wilson on Wednesday 31st October, 2012 at 3:40pm

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A new switch-accessible activity has been added to the Memory, Matching and Targeting section of the Doorway Online web site.

Moving Targets is an updated version of activities originally created around ten years ago by Philip Whittaker and colleagues within Scottish Borders Council. It provides a suite of fun targeting activities in which the targets are progressively harder to hit and is ideal for both assessment and practice.

It is suitable for almost any form of direct selection from mouse to interactive whiteboard, and switch access is also available. Using a switch, some activities become 'cause and effect' exercises, while the first two allow practice with scanning.

The following activities are available:

  • Vans Upon a Time
  • Fireworks
  • Footballer
  • Popping Outside
  • Tanks for all the Fish

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CALL Live Webinar Available to view: Widgit Software

By Craig Mill on Wednesday 24th October, 2012 at 10:01am

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I

Widgit Symbols 

In the recent series of CALL Live webinars, Tina Detheridge of Widigt Software provided an informative presentation on Widgit Symbols.  

Tina talked about Widgit’s work in relation to collaborating with diverse groups in both symbol development and in the use of symbols in different settings, e.g. consulting with therapists, teachers and users to enable better symbol support and to make it easier to write well with symbols.  

Tina discussed what makes Widgit Symbols different from other symbols and outlined the various projects that Widgit are involved in. She also explained some of the ways in which Widgit Symbols are being used outside of the traditional SEN environment, focusing on current medical and prison projects. 

To view Tina’s CALL Live  webinar select this link

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FREE 14 day trial for HelpKidzLearn

By Sandra O'Neill on Monday 22nd October, 2012 at 12:27pm

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HelpKidzLearn has a great selection of motivational, fun and accessible games and activities from Inclusive Technology. There are five different sections : Early Years, Games, Stories, Creative and Find Out; with a number of activities in each section. All of the activities can be accessed using a switch(es), touch screen, mouse, joystick, rollerball, or an eye gaze communication solution, by all children including those with special educational needs and learning difficulties.

The two weeks trial is a time limited offer.

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Protect and survive?

By Paul Nisbet on Thursday 18th October, 2012 at 4:35pm

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Local authority and school ICT services are rightly concerned to protect their systems from abuse, hacking and from viruses, and to protect their users' privacy and security. 

In most Scottish schools, learners cannot use their own smartphones or mobile devices to access the internet in school, and social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked.

Unfortunately, a side-effect of locking and blocking is that essential software to enable pupils to access the curriculum may not get installed or that simple adjustments to control panels cannot be made (which we think in many cases contravenes Equality legislation), and that useful internet sites are blocked so that staff and learners cannot access educational content.

But is all this locking and blocking really necessary? Not according to a report from the Nominet Trust.

The cloudlearn project looked at the experiences of five schools that have unlocked and de-blocked their ICT, and the results make interesting reading. Professor Stephen Heppell, and Carole Chapman, the authors of the report, argue that schools that have embraced social media and portable devices achieve greater engagement with learners, and that unblocking is actually less dangerous than restricting the use of social media and learners’ own portable devices.

In addition to the case studies, the report offers a set of policy guidelines for using smartphones and devices, and social media tools in school.

In our field, we have personal experience of working with young people with disabilities who need digital technologies to communicate and access the curriculum, yet who are prevented from using their devices to access school networks or the internet whilst in school. If school and local authority systems can be opened up while maintaining security and safety, it will have a real benefit for these learners.

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iOS 6 - Guided Access

By Sally Millar on Monday 15th October, 2012 at 10:47am

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Have you updated your iPad to iOS 6 yet?  It only takes about 5 minutes and so far we haven't heard of any problems (apart from the widely reported Apple Maps fiasco)

One of the features that we have all - in the ASN field - been waiting for enthusiastically, is the new 'Guided Access' feature, otherwise known as 'Kid Mode'. (Settings, General, Accessibility, Learning).  See here more detailed instructions for setting up Guided Access / Enabling Kid Mode 

This new feature means that you can 'lock' a user into a single App (the one you want them to be using), rather than leaving them free to distract themselves by flicking around all over the iPad and not focusing on anything. As we know, the delights of the iPad are so great that children will often prefer to interact with the iPad itself, rather than to use it as tool to interact with a learning task, or to communicate with others.   

If you've set it up right, you just need to triple click the Home Button and enter your chosen Passcode to exit this mode and unlock the device. But apparently there have been a few problems with people getting stuck and becoming completely 'locked in' to Guided Access mode, and unable to get out again! There is a wee fix here to tell you how to escape from that situation, if it occurs.

 

 

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