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Best Mobile Sites for Education

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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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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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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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IEP iPhone App…another item off your list – Special Needs Tool

Sometimes parents and educators working with special needs students find that there is a lack of resources. The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center has recently launched a free application for the iPhone, the IEP Checklist, which is the first special education related application.

The IEP checklist gives users basic IEP laws with the ability to create individual profiles for students. The Individualized Education Program, known as an IEP, is mandated by The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which ensures services to children with disabilities. In the United States, an IEP is required by public schools for each student with a disability.

Each IEP is designed to meet the individualized needs of one child. It should describe how the student learns and what teachers and educators can do to help them learn more efficiently.

The iPhone application allows you to create a list in either English or Spanish. It then shows 13 main categories directly related to the IEP, including IEP members, student placement transition plan and more. There are also sub categories. For example, under current performance, you see options like recent evaluations and strengths/needs, which provide you with more information to review.

A details button provides additional information on federal regulations as well as a brief description. You can even add notes about particular students under each category. Once noted, categories are highlighted for easy markings during IEP meetings.

The IEP Checklist application is a tool aimed at helping parents and teachers as they are developing an IEP. The checklist provided gives them items to consider, many which are required by most special education regulations. It also helps parents of students with special needs be more informed about IEP information.

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