Many of you who know me or have heard me present know that I am a very proud mother. I have been trying out Assistive Technology (AT) tools and devices on my daughter since she was in Kindergarten when I first started working for PATINS in 2001. I used her as a test student for Co:Writer, IntelliTools, and many others. After she was old enough to join me for trainings after school she would tag along. It wasn’t too long before she was assisting the participants. Soon after she was up in front and presenting. So, it is not hard to believe that she is now a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) for our local school corporation. She recently attended the Access to Education (A2E) 2022 Conference. Afterwards on the ride home she was telling me about her favorite parts of the conference and was throwing out suggestions for my blog. So I suggested why don’t you do it and she did. Enjoy!
Hello, my name is Courtney LeBarron and I am Sandy Stabenfeldt’s daughter. She is the Indiana Center for Accessible Materials (ICAM) Digital Services Specialist. Recently, I attended the Access to Education (A2E) 2022 Conference hosted by the PATINS Project. Although there were MANY great sessions over the course of the two days, my mind kept going back to one particular session: “Teaching the Swipe Generation: Carefully Curating Apps for Young Children with Disabilities” presented by Beth Poss. Many, many times throughout my short career, I have been asked, “What is the best app? What app can I use?” Well, that question is way more complicated than it may seem. How old is the student? What are their fine motor skills like? What are your goals for them?
During her session, Beth Poss broke it down in a clear and simple way. She listed the 7 steps of what makes an effective learning app. There were two that really stood out to me. The first one was “Does it meet a developmental need?” and the second was “Does it enhance and encourage interactions with adults or peers?” As a SLP these are the two questions I most frequently ask myself: Can it promote literacy or vocabulary development? And will interacting with this app promote interactions between the communication partner and my student?
So, the next time you find yourself thinking,"Is this app really effective?" Or you are asked, "What is the best app?", think about these criteria. If you find one that meets the criteria of an effective learning app you can borrow it to try with your student. PATINS lends iPads with apps or they can send apps to iPads that are not managed by the school corporation. If you need help in determining an app to try, please talk to a PATINS specialist. Information about the PATINS lending library is available on their website. Not all technology is bad, and not all is good. It is our job, as educators, to help our students figure it out.