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iPod Touch & iPad 2 Accessories for the Classroom (Part 2)

This blog post is continued from the post last week on iPod Touch and iPad accessories for the classroom.  The first post provides examples of screen protectors, covers, cases, and stands that are useful accessories to purchase to increase the longevity and usability of the mobile devices.  This post will focus on styluses, keyboards, headphones, adaptors, and connection cables should all be considered when purchasing these portable devices.  All these accessories increase the ease of use of the devices in the classroom setting for both teachers and students.

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Styluses & Keyboards

If the iPad’s are going to be used as a laptop replacement device in the classroom, it is worth the investment of Bluetooth wireless keyboards.  Students can type up documents for class more efficiently.  The onboard keyboard is useful, but it gets tedious if you have to type or edit longer documents.  Apple has a very versatile keyboard that can hold up to daily use by students.  It is slim and compact, would travel easily for a mobile classroom.  Users have rated  this is an easy to use a keyboard and is similar in layout and spacing when compared to a traditional keyboard.

The use of a stylus with the iPod Touch or the iPad is a great addition for younger students or students who may have difficulty using the touch screen method.  Many styluses are small and not made for young students. One stylus that has gotten great ratings for students is the AluPen.  Viewer ratings state that it is easy to grip, more responsive, glides smoothly, and allows for more accurate writing and drawing.

Headphones

Headphones are definitely a necessity in any computer lab, even a mobile lab.  This allows students to listen to academic-based websites like Learning Today, educational videos from TeacherTube, or sound embedded into Apps.  I required students to bring in headphones as part of their school materials at the beginning of the year.  I ask for the ear bud style headphones so they are easy to store in their backpacks.  This may not work for all students or all situations.  Some labs provide headphones to students.  They should be durable and easily sanitized after each use.  If they have headphone pads, they should be able to be cleaned or replaced.

Adaptors & Connection Cables

The iPod Touch & iPad 2 only come with a wall charger and a UBS sync cable to connect it to the computer.  These cables will not be enough to use the devices in a classroom setting.   At minimum, a digital adaptor or an AVG cable will be needed for the teacher in order to model the use of the iPad on a screen or interactive board.

For a mobile lab, there also must be a way to sync all of the devices easily at one time.  You must also have a storage device that will allow for easy transportation throughout a school.  This syncing storage device should also provide security and lock when the devices when not in use.

What are your favorite iPod Touch and iPad accessories?

Article By Laura Ketcham

Picture By smemon87

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iPod Touch & iPad 2 Accessories for the Classroom (Part 1)

When purchasing iPod’s or iPad’s for the classroom, one must consider the accessories that will need to be purchased in order to exploit the power of the devices.  Screen protectors, covers, cases, stands, styluses, keyboards, headphones, adaptors, and connection cables should all be considered as necessary additions when purchasing these devices for the classroom.  Be sure to budget in these items when determining your needs for the classroom when planning to purchase.

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Screen Protectors & Covers/Cases

Screen Protectors are a clear film that is stuck to the front and/or back screen of the device.  This helps to protect the screen from scratches and can even help to protect the screen if the device is dropped.  I have used InvisibleSHIELD from Zaag on both my iPhone and my iPad.  This protective cover has proven very useful in small drops, prevented my screen from shattering on a large drop, and also prevents smudges and scratches.  Another great quality of this protector is that it has a lifetime warranty.  This is great for school use because of the amount of time the devices will be used and it is replaced for free.

In addition to a screen protector, you should also buy a cover or a case.  This provides more protection for the device.  Covers can include rubber or plastic that only protects the backing of the device or one for the front of the case as well.

For example, the Griffin Reveal is a slim-line protector case that slides over the back of the device (iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad 2).  The advantage to this cover is that it doesn’t add bulk to the device, has rubber sides that make it easy to hold, and that it is made out of one piece of polycarbonate which is a strong material that can hold up to frequent use.

The iPad Smart Cover is nice, but doesn’t seem like it will hold up to use by students.  It turns off the iPad automatically when shut and is magnetically attached to the side.  It flips over to become a stand, but it isn’t very sturdy and I can see this breaking easily.   I think it is too early to tell which case will be the best for students that will provide protection along with providing the option to turn it into a stand.   Buying a case for protection and a separate stand is the better option for the classroom.

Stands

Stands are a definite extra that should considered when buying these types of devices.  This is especially useful in the special education classroom.  While buying a separate stand for home use may seem unnecessary, it is very useful in the classroom.  Stands hold the device in a leaning position so that students could use a stylus, read from it, or use in a more ergonomic fashion.  Xtand has some of the top-rated stands for both the iPod Touch and the iPad 2.  These stands are durable and more stable than the stands that fold up or are built into a case.  The one down side is that it is not easily transported as it doesn’t fold up.

The remaining accessories will be included in another post next week.  Accessories are an important component that should definitely be thought out and planned for when building a mobile lab.

Article By Laura Ketcham

Picture By Yutaka Tsutano

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The iPad 2: An Innovative Educator & Student Resource

Yesterday’s much awaited announcement of the iPad 2 did not disappoint.  Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple was on hand to unveil the new iPad at a live press conference demonstrating the new features of the new iPad 2.  The iPad 2 will be available in store and online March 11th.

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In the past year, Apple’s iPad has made a significant impact on the education world.  Administrators, teachers, and students have all embraced the tablet style computing device in the classroom.  Many features, including the long battery life, portability, innovative 3rd party applications, lower pricing point when compared to laptops and accessibilities options have made it a viable laptop alternative in the classroom.

From an educators stand-point, the updated options that are available on the iPad 2 will make it an even more popular device to use in the classroom.  Here are the new options and how I think it will impact the education world:

Faster Processor

The iPad 2 has a new duo-core processor.  This will allow students to process data at a faster speed without much lag time.  Students can create projects and multi-task smoothly with this faster processor rather than using it to surf or passively learn.  This will also allow app developers to create more robust apps that will be an advantage when teaching complex material in the classroom.

Camera

The iPad 2 has two cameras, one at the front of the device and one on the back.  This will allow students to take pictures and videos on the iPad 2 for class assignments.  The new apps, iMovie, Photo Booth, and even Face Time can be used by the students to produce polished, innovative projects.

Lighter weight & Longer Battery Life

The iPad 2 is lighter than the original iPad.  This increases the ease of portability even more.  The battery life has also been increased by 1 hour.  The iPad 2 has a 10 hour battery life.  This is one of the best selling points for its use in school.  Students can use the iPad for a full day of school without ever having to charge the device.

Video Mirroring

There is now no need for any teacher to have to “jailbreak” their iPad.  The original iPad had no way of connecting to a projector.  This was a disadvantage to teachers who wanted to use the device to show students movies, apps, or lessons on the iPad.  Now, the iPad 2 can connect to a projector using extra accessories, the Digital AV adaptor or the VGA adaport.  This will allow teachers to connect their iPad 2 to either a projector or television (even HDTVs).  These accessories also allow the iPad 2 to be charged during the presentation.   What is displayed on the iPad 2 will be mirrored onto the larger screen.

iPad Smart Cover

Reading various sites online, there was not much buzz about the new cover that Apple has created for the iPad 2.  However, as a teacher, I thought it was a great invention.  The new Smart Cover, when placed over top of the iPad 2, automatically turns the device into sleep mode.  When removed from the top of the iPad 2, it can be used as a stand.  It fits great and aligns perfectly making for an easy transition between use and non-use.  For the classroom, it will save battery life when students are not using the device along with providing a protective cover when not in use.  This will be useful between transitions of students needing to focus on the teachers’ directions and not using the iPad 2 to when the students can then use the iPad 2 for the classroom lesson.

There are also many successful features that Apple has incorporated from the iPad to the iPad 2.  The new device has the same pricing point as the original, along with the one-touch off and on options, and accessibility features for individuals with disabilities.

The iPad 2 will be a big hit both in and out of the classroom.  I’m very excited to see the impact that it will have on education over the next year.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Best Mobile Sites for Education

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mobile internet

This blog post was inspired by a recent experience where I had to spend a few hours at a car dealership without Wi-Fi access on my laptop.  However, I still had 3G access on my cell phone and I began surfing around the net to pass the time.  This spurred me to think about using the iPad and iPods in the classroom and what websites were the most mobile friendly.

These small computerized devices like the iPod and iPad provide great ways for students to search for information without having to use a laptop or desktop computer.  They are mobile and can be easily circulated in the classroom or shared among several classrooms.  However, the use of these devices is not limited to the downloaded apps.  They will also be used to browse the web to find research data and information for various classroom assignments.  Many of the most popular websites have adapted their traditional websites to fit this small format screen by providing the most important information in the small space by putting the most important information on the homepage, reducing the clutter, and making it easier to sign in or select links.

Here are some of the top mobile sites that would be great for your students to use in the classroom when using iPad and iPods, or similar small format devices, with Internet access.

Mobile Wikipedia

Mobile Wikipedia is a great educational online resource.  The mobile version has an article of the day, a short news section, and a place for students to search online.  This would be a great resource for students to use to find background information on a variety of projects.  It is easy to navigate, read, and quick to load.  It keeps the students interest by also including pictures, a quick-snap shot of info about the topic searches, and links for more information.  The great aspect of the mobile version it breaks down the entry into sections that you select to load based on what you want to read about.  For example, when I searched Niagara Falls, it gave me a picture, several facts, and then a basic overview.  To learn more I could select on the sections like History, Geology or Tourism.

Answers.com

The Answers.com mobile version is a combination of a search engine for questions, encyclopedia, and language resource.  As the student is typing in the search question, questions will pop-up to fill in the results limiting the amount of typing that needs to be done.  I typed in “when is the next lu” and at that point it filled it in with “When is the next lunar eclipse?”  It then provided a short answer to the question and provided links for more information and answers to similar questions.  On the homepage of this site, there are also quick links for today’s highlights, new answers, and new questions.  Users contribute to this website and it would be a fun lesson to get your students involved by asking or answering questions!

Web on Your Cell

Web on your Cell is a portal website.  From this site, students can select one of the main categories like news tech or eBooks and then be linked to a list of mobile-ready websites that meet those categories.  It is a great one-stop website to get to the best and most frequently used mobile websites.  The low-graphics also make it easy to navigate and quick to load, great features for mobile surfing.

Math Slice

Mobile Math Slice contains a variety of educational and fun games.  They are represented by small icon links associate with the topic of the game.  The games are not only math related, other games include hangman about the state capitals, “Finding Nemo” while learning about the compass directions, memory games, and Spanish vocabulary.  Some of the games are very simplistic, but would be great for those few extra minutes before the end of school or for fun transition activities when a student finishes an assignment early.

Dropbox

Dropbox is an online storage system.  Students can upload and download the various assignments they are working on the mobile devices to this website.  This is a good remote storage device and is free for the first 2 GB.  The mobile version is very user friendly.

Ta-Da List

Ta-Da List is a simple mobile website where users can create and manage to-do lists.  Students can use to write down their homework or a list of items that need to be completed.

Other Great Mobile Websites

  1. Google – not only the search engine, but also Maps, Calendar, Docs, and Mail
  2. Discovery Channel – links to science videos, articles, and activities
  3. Dictionary.com – mobile online dictionary
  4. Ask – search engine to answer questions

Feel free to comment and write about your favorite mobile websites for education.

Article by Laura Ketcham

Photo by armandoalves

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iCan with the iPad – Usage for Special Needs

For many children, the iPad is just another form of entertainment. They can play games, listen to music and do other types of fun activities. But for some children, it can do more than that.

The video below is about a boy named Owen, who was born healthy, but diagnosed at 8 weeks old with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Type 1. Doctors expected him only to live for 2 years. Although he has now lost nearly all muscular movement, he lived. He also has learned to read, do math and write, all from the help of his parents.

 

Over the past few years, Owen’s mother has been looking for different technologies to help her son learn. Many of these technologies have been very expensive and not proven to be as helpful as expected. One day, Owen’s nurse brought over an iPad for him to use. Since he can use his hands, he was able to use the touch screen to move about with the iPad.

The fact that Owen was able to operate this device was a huge step for the family. He was able to push buttons, change screens and do other moves with the iPad. For people with disabilities, the features on the latest devices, like the iPad are “game changers”. Owen is able to turn the pages in a book on his own, for the first time.

With the potential to advance his learning abilities, devices like the iPad prove to be crucial. The abilities they give to people with special needs may soon prove to be endless.

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Changes in Technology for Students with Learning Differences

With all the technology and advances that are happening on a daily basis, it is no wonder why most schools are starting to incorporate these advances into the classroom. For Brandon Hall School in Atlanta, Georgia, they are giving each middle school student and teacher their own Apple iPad to use for enhanced learning.

brandon hall

Instead of worrying about getting to a computer or having access to one at home, students will be able to carry the thin, touch-screen device. With Wi-Fi and cellular networks, students will be able to access work both in and out of the classroom.

With the thousands of applications available on the iPad, students can practice anything from math to science and penmanship. Because many of the students in this school have learning disabilities or differences, the applications will help them learn multi-sensory ways instead of traditional lecture styles of learning. It will also allow them to use strengths they might not have known they had.

Apps like Dragon Naturally Speaking create written documentation from a student’s spoken words. For children who have difficulties with handwriting, this app can open them to a whole new world of reading and writing. A penmanship app also allows students to practice their writing skills.

The students of this school are all bright and possess the ability to graduate and go on to college. Because of their learning differences across a variety of subjects, the iPad will help them use technology and the advances in traditional learning to learn and grow in their own individual way. This is only the start of the changes in the way students will soon be learning and growing.

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There’s an App for that! | Special Education Apps

The iPod Touch®, iPhone®, and iPad®, are a great innovative technology tools for educators and students to use in the classroom.  These devices all have access to the App Store, which now contains a wide array of easy to use, fun and functional applications for education.  Access to the App Store is readily available through iTunes or over wireless and 3G connections on the various ‘i-devices’.  Since the release of the iPad, there has been an increase in creation of educational apps.  While not all students may have access to Apple’s portable devices, it may be time to put in wish-list requests to administration for tools like these to be included in the budget for your classroom next year.

Where to find Apps for Special Education

Scribd is a social publishing and reading site.  On this site I found a Scribd page devoted to special education apps.  The interactive list contains 24 mini-pages of useful apps for special education students including descriptions and links for download.  The apps are organized by topics and include communication, organization, reading, writing, math, music, art, accessibility, and games.  Most of the Apps that are in the list are free or low cost, typically not costing more than $5.00 per App.  When you select on an App, the link will take you into iTunes where there is a full description and screen shots of the App along with user feedback is available.  The App can then be purchased and downloaded the portable Apple device you own.

Beth Kintle is a K-12 Technology Integration Specialist who maintains a blog about various educational happenings.  One of her posts from March included a new open-access Google Docs document for individuals to add information about iPod apps that they have used in their classrooms.  The list contains the title of the App, a link, description, subject, level, comments, and user feedback.  Users with a Google account can add their favorite Apps to the lists.  This is a great way for the special education community to join together in building the best apps that will help special needs students.

One app that I really liked was the My Homework App.  Using this app on an ‘i-device’ allows the student to create a list of their classes and add specific details about projects and assignments.  They can be viewed by all classes for individual days, for a week, or a month-at-a-glance.  Text can easily be added, deleted, and modified into the program.  There is also a feature to then send their updates to their email account.

One last location to find Apps for special education is to directly search using iTunes either on a laptop or your ‘i-device’.  If you go to the iTunes store and search ‘special education’ and then select App store from the left-hand menu, you will get a comprehensive list of Apps currently denoted as being specifically developed for special education.  When you select on the App you can learn more about the App through a description, screen shots, and user feedback.

Upon my searching I found many flash card systems that teach functional skills that can be integrated with the iPhone.  Since the device is portable, it can lead to students living more independent lives.  Another cool set of Apps I found was the Jammit games where students can learn to play drums and guitar and then make a mix based on actual artists’ recordings.  Fun and learning all wrapped into one!

I can really see this type of technology being the future of education for special needs students!

Article by Laura Ketcham

Photo from myHomework

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iPods & iPads are Innovative Tech Tools for Special Education

The iPod Touch and iPad, are great innovative technology tools for educators and students to use in the classroom.  There are many applications and features of these tools that may potentially increase learning outcomes and motivation for learning in the classroom.  While not all schools or students may have access to these tech tools, it is time to add these innovative devices as a wish-list request for next school year!

Functional Skills System for the iPod Touch

The Conover Company has a great package for special education classrooms that includes a classroom set of iPod Touches pre-loaded with age-appropriate videos setup into a functional skills system.  This system allows the students to learn functional skills to gain more independence in society.  The videos include an instructional phase, review phase, and generalization phase for life, literacy, math, social, and work skills. Some of the topics for the videos are learning about money, safety signs, tools for work, manners, social skills, describing words, clothing, entertainment, transportation, restaurants, shopping, labels, hygiene, grooming, and groceries.

The advantage of the iPod system is that the students can travel with the functional skills system to assist them in their day-to-day lives.  The touch screen capability of the iPod allows access to this system for students who may have limited hand movement or motion.  There is also a feature to modify the iPod into a single switch compatibility mode.  The videos include high-quality audio which used in conjunction with the vision impaired features of the iPod, allows access for students with low vision to utilize the functional skills program.  Closed-captioning is also available for the videos for students with hearing impairments.  This system can also be used on the computer instead of using iPod, but it would limit the use of the program outside of the classroom.  Another addition to the program is that there are print exercises that accompany this software for students to learn the functional skills in the classroom without the technology.

Videos of Special Education Students using iPods in the Classroom

Click Here to view a great video about how iPods can be used by teachers, students, and parents in the special education classroom.    In this video the teacher and sign language interpreter use the iPod as a communication device between the teacher, student, and parents.  The teachers also created videos of vocabulary in sign language and student accomplishments.  The parents can then see what the students are learning in class and become more involved at home.  The voice memo feature of the iPod is used to send information back and forth from families to teachers.  They have expanded the roll of the iPod in the classroom by video taping the stories that are being covered in class including audio, sign language, and photos from the books.  The stories can then be read at home to increase reading comprehension.

This video shows hearing impaired students utilizing the iPad for science education.  The teacher has the students completely engaged in their lesson combing the use of the iPad with sign language.  The video shows that the iPad is an innovative tool where the students can interact with each other in conjunction with their online textbook.  The features of the iPad that the students felt were helpful include the flip the screen, easy ability to scroll, enlarge images, search the net, and load their textbook.

Article by Laura Ketcham

Photo by FHKE

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Free iPhone/ iPod / iPad Special Education Apps

Because April is Autism Awareness Month, Kindergarten.com has released a set of 24 apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad for free for the Month of April!  Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Flashcards are available to download for free from the iTunes store!  These apps are great for students with special needs because they include audio reinforcement, musical rewards, and will shuffle the decks for you. The apps also include games with themes like which object does not belong, which words rhyme, as well as traditional flashcards.

An example of one of the apps is the “Which Go Together” app. This app focuses on problem solving, which is an important skill to learn early in a child’s life. Here, students can be introduced to associations that will help them develop visual discrimination skills and understanding of various objects.

There are 120 colorful images that are of high interest for visual and auditory learners. The student will be asked which one of the four objects shown does not belong in a specific combination. With clear audio and verbal praise to reinforce correct answers, students will have fun and learn at the same time. There is even pleasant classical music that plays throughout the app to keep children focused on the task at hand. The sounds can even be turned on or off to cater to a specific child’s needs.

To download all these wonderful free apps, open iTunes, click on the iTunes store, search for Kindergarten.com and you will be able to see all the available apps!

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iPads in Special Education Classrooms

Apple has added many features to the iPad to improve universal accessibility. The accessibility features include VoiceOver, MonoAudio, Zoom, Closed-caption, White on Black, and Triple-click Home.

VoiceOver

The VoiceOver feature allows for individuals with visual impairments to touch the screen and then hear a description of what is being selected. The user can then use the commands to double-click, tap, drag, or flick to control iPad. This feature works with all of the applications built into iPad, and other software developers can also create applications that work with this feature. Another additional feature of VoiceOver is that it has the ability to accept some voice input. It also includes 21 languages and is compatible with iBooks that have the VoiceOver feature.

MonoAudio

MonoAudio allows all channels of audio to be routed to one bud in the headphone. This feature is very useful for individuals who have lost hearing in just one ear. The Zoom feature allows the user to magnify the entire screen. This feature even works with all applications on the iPad, including applications downloaded from the App Store. Closed-Caption on the iPad displays subtitles for movies and podcasts. The White on Black feature allows for the iPad to be viewed at a higher contrast. This feature works with all applications on the iPad. The Triple-click Home feature is very useful. With the touch of one button, you can instantly turn feature of VoiceOver, White on Black, or Zoom on or off.

Post by Laura Ketcham

Photo by Curiouslee

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