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Search results for the Tag keyword: iPad
By Paul Nisbet on Wednesday 22nd May, 2013 at 3:19pm
I had a call yesterday from a parent who was concerned about her 10 year old son who is dyslexic and dyspraxic. He has been receiving good support from the school staff, particularly with regard to his reading - his mum said that his reading age had been 1.5 years behind but that followed intensive work with staff, using Toe-by-Toe and other techniques, he was now reading at the same level as his peers.
However, she was concerned about his handwriting, which because of his dyspraxia, is difficult to read. He doesnt like writing at all, finds it very hard to read his own writing, and is getting upset about it. The parent had raised the possibility of her son using ICT instead of handwriting with staff, and said that the school were not very enthusiastic.
Now, I dont know the details and without meeting the pupil I wouldnt be able to say whether he should or should not use ICT instead of or as well as handwriting. But it does make me worried and so I thought Id offer a few thoughts around this issue. Heres what I think.
If someone in Primary 5 is dyspraxic and consequently has slow and illegible handwriting then its time to stop causing them grief and time to start helping them to access the curriculum. Forcing a pupil to continue writing by hand when there are easier, faster and more effective methods is not good practice. It risks disengagement, prevents them from accessing educational opportunities and creates low self-esteem. Its not successful, not confident, not responsible, not effective and not what schools should be doing.
Heres an example of a (different) pupils handwriting – he was in Primary 7 at the time:
Heres a sample of his writing using a simple word processor (an AlphaSmart). Much easier to read, although the spelling is a bit of an issue.
befor you go you haf to make a traye. First get a peace of fishing line about 1 metre long. Then get a reasnedul sised hook after you have got one big enuf and sharp enuf laiy it to your trais and then get a flote. put the end of the trais that does not have the hook thro the hole at the top of the flot then tiay a not.
And heres a sample of his writing with a word predictor (Co:Writer). Readable and much better spelling:
First get a piece of fishing line about 1 metre long. Then get a reasonable sized hook. After you have got one big enough and sharp enough tie it to your trace
No contest, really, is there?
ICT, in the form of a personal netbook, laptop, tablet or iPad is vital for pupils who have difficulties with reading or writing. Its like an electronic jotter. You need to have a device on your desk, available at all time. Getting up from your desk to go to the back of the room to use the class computer is no good: you wouldnt expect someone to get up and go to the back of the class every time they needed to use a pencil and write in a jotter, so why accept this with ICT?
Its a skill that needs taught
We teach handwriting. We also need to teach keyboarding (ideally, touch typing, if possible) and ICT skills. We teach handwriting skills to develop speed, fluidity and automaticity – so that ideally, your thoughts flow direct from brain to page without having to think about the formation of letters. So too with keyboarding – the main reason for learning to touch typing, in my view, is not speed, but to develop the same automaticity.
Despite the notion of digital learners young people are not born with innate ability to use a word processor or a word predictor. They have to be taught. By their teachers. This needs staff who know the technology, and time set aside for teaching.
Use it most or all of the time
Its tempting to think that you only want to use the ICT for extended writing, but there can be a few problems with this. Its too easy to leave the device on the side and not have it ready and inevitably the battery goes flat and you get out of the habit and before you know where you are, the pupil is in S4 and about to use a scribe in his exams. Avoid this: make ICT the default tool, not the exceptional tool.
To do this we need to think digital: use ICT yourself to create resources and give the same resources to the pupil so they can access them on the device. Get digital versions of textbooks from the Books for All Database. Use digital reading books. Scan paper worksheets and other materials into the computer so that the pupil can complete them on the device. (Lots of programs can do this, from the free Foxit Reader, to for example Acrobat Pro, FineReader and more specialist software like ClaroRead, Read and Write Gold or Kurzweil.)
Lets stop making life hard for ourselves and our learners.
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By Paul Nisbet on Friday 17th May, 2013 at 5:20pm
We have some more new maths textbooks on the Books for All Database.
TeeJay Maths Curriculum for Excellence titles
We are very grateful to TeeJay Publishers who have kindly provided PDFs of their six new Curriculum for Excellence textbooks: Books 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a and 3b. These cover Curriculum for Excellence First, Second and Third levels. We have added bookmarks to aid navigation, matched the page numbers to the paper books, and 'reader-enabled' the files so that learners can use the drawing, audio recording and highlighting tools in Adobe Reader to access the books. We have not yet added answer boxes, but learners can type answers in using the Adobe Reader 'Typewriter' tool. You can read and access the books on your iPad using the free Adobe Reader app, or preferably PDFaloud or iAnnotate. Click here to see these new books in the database.
Thanks also to Caroline Jamieson in Moray for contributing a Large Print copy of the Curriculum for Excellence Book 1b. Caroline has created the first 10 chapters and is working on the rest. See it here.
Nelson Thornes New Maths in Action
Marie Lawson in Shetland has uploaded an 18 point Large Print version of New Maths in Action S1/1, to add to the 24 point Large Print copy of the S1/2 book that's already there.
We have also uploaded scanned PDF copies of New Maths in Action S1/3, S1/B and S2/3. These are really most suitable for learners with physical disabilities who need digital versions of books because they have difficulty handling the paper copies. The files are PDFs that have been created by scanning the paper copies, and while we have converted them to readable text, we don't have the resources to check every word and so there may be some text recognition errors. The books can be zoomed and magnified, and the text read out using text-to-speech, so they should be reasonably accessible to pupils with dyslexia or reading difficulties, or mild visual impairment. Again, the books are reader-enabled so that learners can type, draw, highlight and otherwise annotate the files.
Click here to see these new books.
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By Allan Wilson on Monday 26th November, 2012 at 3:33pm
Nearly 50 parents of children with additional support needs came to CALL on Saturday for our Parent Information Day on iPads.During the course of the day there was a series of presentations by CALL staff on different aspects of the use of the iPad to support learning and communication, along with exhibition space with various stands where visitors could have more in-depth discussions with CALL staff and browse through some of the extensive information downloadable from the internet on the use of iPads to support learning.Stuart and Paul provided an overview of the use of the iPad to read books available in different electronic formats (primarily ePub and PDF), using apps including iBooks, iWordQ and VoiceDream Reader.
In a parallel session, Sally demonstrated a number of picture-based apps that could be used to support communication, including BitsBoard, Book Creator, Sounding Board and GoTalk Now.
The morning finished with a presentation by Craig highlighting basic functions of the iPad, such as file management and the creation of folders, and the accessibility features of the iPad.After lunch there was time for people to browse through a vast array of information resources (listed in a handout) and to ask questions. Many people took the opportunity to buy CALL's book on the iPad, iPads for Communication, Access, Literacy and Learning, available as a free download, or to purchase in paper format from CALL.
What people thought of the Information Day
Here are some comments made by people attending the Information Day:
- "CALL is a brilliant discovery for us, and I feel it should be promoted to EVERY dyslexic kid as a matter of course - by law!"
- " I liked the depth & breadth of experience and approachability of presenters."
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By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 13th November, 2012 at 4:10pm
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 childs 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.
- 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.
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By Paul Nisbet on Wednesday 6th June, 2012 at 3:51pm
Quite a few people have been asking if candidates can use iPads to complete the SQA Digital Question Papers. Previously, the answer was 'no' partly because SQA prohibited use of iPads in the same way they do not allow mobile phones in the exam room. However, this policy has now changed and some pupils at Cedars School of Excellence in Greenock did use their iPads to access the digital papers this year.
The SQA Digital Question Papers are PDF files which can be read using many different apps including, for example, iBooks and Adobe Reader, but for digital exams we suggest PDF Expert which is the only app we have found that actually lets you type your answers into the digital paper answer boxes. PDF Expert lets you open the digital paper, type into the answer boxes, highlight and underline text, and add drawings and notes to the exam paper. Completed papers can be printed, saved and emailed. Cedars used PDF Expert on their iPads for the 2012 exams.
The digital papers work very well for question and answer exam papers which require short text answers. The screen shot shows how text can be typed into the answer boxes on an Intermediate 1 Computing Paper. To 'tick' the answer box, you tap with your finger.
The answer boxes can only accept text and so maths and science, where the learner has to produce equations and formulae, can be tricky to do digitally.
With a stylus, it is possible to draw diagrams, graphs and maths and science expressions on the digital paper although I still don't find it as easy as using a pencil and paper, personally (must be an age thing?). Note that candidates have the option of writing their drawings and equations on the digital paper, or on a paper copy.
The second screen shot shows my scrawled attempt to draw a graph and work through an equation with the stylus.
- Back up the iPad.
- Delete all the apps on the iPad that are not required in the assessment. This leaves the apps required for the assessment (e.g. PDF Expert, maybe Pages etc,) plus the built-in Apps on the device.
- Delete all photos, music files, videos, contacts, reminders and other documents. Clear the browser history.
- Go into Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and delete all the accounts. This prevents access to Mail, Contacts and Calendar.
- Remove any 3G SIM card.
- Prevent access to the school Wi-Fi using the school network settings. Check that there are no other wi-fi internet access points available.
- Turn off Bluetooth: Settings > General > Bluetooth > Off.
- Now you need to prevent access to the built-in Apps, which are Newsstand, iMessages, Mail, Safari, iBooks, FaceTime, PhotoBooth, Reminders, Photos, Music, Videos
- Go to Settings > General > Restrictions.
- Click on Enable Restrictions and enter a passcode
- Turn off any apps that you dont want the candidate to be able to access (i.e. all of them). This will remove the following apps from the iPad screen: Safari, YouTube, Camera, FaceTime, iTunes, Ping and installing and deleting apps. Note this still leaves Mail, iMessage, Calendar and Contacts that the pupil could access the internet to find previously hidden answers, which is why you need to prevent access to wi-fi or the internet.
- Allow Changes:
- in Location, Dont Allow Changes (this stops the iPad connecting to Wi-fi hotspots or devices)
- In Accounts, Dont Allow Changes (this prevents anyone adding a new mail or other account)
- Turn off Auto-Correction and spellchecking (unless you have permission to use them):
- Settings > General > Keyboard > Turn off Auto-Correction and Check Spelling
- (Note that the candidate can easily turn them back on – we havent found a way to prevent this.)
- You should now have an iPad with:
- no stored files, emails, photos, videos, sound recordings or other documents;
- only the apps which are required for the assessment;
- no spellchecking or auto-correct;
- no access to the internet or wi-fi;
and so the iPad should be secure.
If you have an iPad why not download some past papers from SQA's web site, try them out, and let us know what you think.
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By Paul Nisbet on Friday 9th March, 2012 at 5:19pm
The eBook revolution continues apace in all sorts of ways, and more Scottish public libraries are joining in by lending eBooks and downloadable audiobooks, for us to borrow and read or listen to on our computers, iPhone or iPad, and Android devices. So far, five local authorities offer eBooks and downloadable audiobooks:
- You can't borrow Kindle books (yet - this may happen, but so far Kindle books are only available to US libraries).
- The OverDrive app on the iPad has some features to improve accessibility, although it's quite limited - the maximum font size is not huge (I'd say about 24 point), colour options are only black text on white or sepia, and the font is serifed. However, you can use the iPad built-in white-on-black colour scheme, and have the text read out using VoiceOver.
- On a Windows PC or Mac, you read the eBook with Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). There are two versions - ADE 1.72 and ADE 1.8 Preview. The latter has accessibility features: on a Windows PC, you can have the book read out with Jaws or NVDA screen reader software, while Mac users can have the text read out using the built-in VoiceOver. You can't read the book with other text-to-speech programs such as WordTalk, Read and Write Gold, ClaroRead etc, and you can't copy or save the text into other programs to have it read out. The font is serifed and you can't change it. You can't change the colours within the program (you can with the computer's own display settings).
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By Paul Nisbet on Friday 20th January, 2012 at 12:15pm
Yesterday Apple launched iBooks 2, a new version of the iBooks app for iThingys; iBooks Author, a program for the Mac which is for writing and designing iBooks, and a range of interactive textbooks. The video about the interactive textbooks video a well worth a look - very promotional but also inspiring, and particularly relevant for those of us involved in supporting students with print disabilities.
Coincidentally, yesterday we ran a course for the first time on eBooks, Kindles and iPads. Preparing for it was an educational experience for Stuart, Sandra, Craig and I, and we learned a lot about the features and also limitations of Kindles, iPads and commercial eBooks.
A few observations, just from this one course:
- Over half the teachers on the course owned a Kindle.
- A teacher from a Primary unit for pupils with visual impairment has 6 Kindles and she says she's almost stopped using paper large print completely - she emails the materials to the Kindles and the pupils use large font sizes on the devices instead. It saves a lot of paper, printing and therefore money, and the pupils prefer the Kindles to most (not all) of the paper large print books (books with large colour diagrams might not be that good on the Kindle screen). It's also a lot quicker - printing out 800 pages of 36 pt text takes a long time, whereas emailing the file to the Kindles takes seconds.
- Another teacher on the course has a son who is dyslexic. He used to need coloured overlays to read books and was never a great reader, but he can see the Kindle screen display: she says he now spends hours reading books on the Kindle whereas before he never read for pleasure.
- Participants generally felt that the Kindle, iPad, iPod etc have a considerable 'cool' factor, which is of course a big issue. And because they are mainstream devices, you don't look that different if you use one to read books.
- The eBook formats and readers are definitely becoming more accessible - bigger range of fonts, options to change colours and font sizes, better access with text-to-speech software.
- Some public libraries (Edinburgh, Dundee and South Ayrshire, at least) are now offering eBooks on loan. You can borrow a book and read it on your computer, iPod, iPad, Android device etc.
- The most exciting thing, for me, is the huge increase in the availability of books and materials - as well as Kindle, we have iBooks, WH Smith, Google Book store. Although the commercial eBook formats and readers may not give us everything we want in terms of accessibility (yet), they are getting there, and we are already seeing how the technology can give print disabled pupils access to learning materials in a way that is quicker, cheaper, easier and more independent than what we had before.
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By Sally Millar on Thursday 17th November, 2011 at 10:32am
Jane Farrall in Melbourne Australia has just published on her blog a really useful step by step instructions for how to get a free book from the Tarheel Reader site into an iPad. Good way to make appropriate materials available without having to make them yourself. (You could also run the book online, which would be even quicker and easier, but downloading it as a powerpoint into iBooks means it can be always available and stay there for the child to enjoy again and again.
If you don't know about the TarheelReader site, go and have a look. There are many short and very simple stories there, freely useable and downloadable, made in Powerpoint, all with picture and speech support, one line of text, ideal for our emergent readers and learners with complex additional support needs. For example , see here, 'my cat is fat' (choose a voice on top left and off you go). (The quality can be a bit variable, so you do need to check before you select a book for a pupil. Some are a bit too 'American- mind you, there's nothing to stop us uploading our own books to the site, good idea!)
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By Paul Nisbet on Thursday 13th May, 2010 at 4:55pm
There's a very interesting article by Bradley Hodges on the AFB AccessWorld site. Bradley describes his first 24 hours with an iPad and the article is full of really interesting insights. From the Books for All perspective, I think this comment is very illuminating:
"There have been two transformative moments in my professional career that I associate with gaining equal access to the printed word. The first was in the mid-'90s, when, as a university researcher, my department obtained a braille embosser and access to the fledgling Internet. One afternoon, a graduate assistant who worked with me casually dropped a braille copy of the cover article from that week's Time magazine on my desk. For the first time, I could read the same text as my sighted colleagues at the same time they did.
The second transformative moment took place Monday evening, April 5, 2010. On that night, I purchased a book from a book store, exactly as my sighted neighbors and colleagues would. I then sat in my den and read that book on the same device as my sighted counterparts.
Just as the introduction of VoiceOver for the Mac and iPhone suddenly and dramatically changed our expectations for ourselves and for those who provide access technology to our community, I believe the advent of accessible iBooks will be viewed by future generations as one of the landmark events in the lives of the blind."
In previous posts I've noted that eBook readers and eBook formats both need to be accessible if there are to fulfil their potential to provide access to books for print disabled people. With the iPad and VoiceOver it looks like it's just happened! (Provided we can actually buy books from the iBookStore in the UK...there's always a fly in the ointment somewhere...)
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By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 16th March, 2010 at 10:36am
eBooks have been around for some years now without making much impact but recently there has been a lot more buzz about them. There are a lot of interesting possibilities with eBooks for people with print disabilities but the main one is access to books: if accessible eBooks could be purchased direct from a publisher then we would no longer have to contact the publisher to ask for a digital copy and wait while they find it, or rely on someone somewhere scanning the book into a digital format. For this to happen, we need accessible eBook readers and accessible eBooks.
The first eBook readers left a lot to be desired in terms of accessibilty, but the new Kindle devices (particularly the larger Kindle DX) looks more interesting. Amazon have been under pressure to improve the accessibility of the Kindle - for example the United States Justice Deptartment has agreed that three Universities will not buy or recommend the Kindle unless it is fully accessible.
On the new Kindle DX, it seems the text size can be up to about 20 point, and Kindle claim they are going to add a new font in the summer which will double this size (i.e. 40 point). Of course the Kindle can also read the text out using text-to-speech software: the voice is provided by Nuance and so it should be quite good (albeit American). A major limitation is that it can only read 'unprotected' eBooks, and most of the commercial books are protected to prevent them being copied. RNIB and others are lobbying for publishers to find a way to protect their interests and also make their books accessible, so we hope to see an improvement here.
The new Apple iPad also looks interesting because Apple says it can read out eBooks using 'VoiceOver', the iPad screen reader, and you can change the text size and also the font. We don't know yet if it will be able to read commercial eBooks, or if this function will be restricted, like the Kindle. To read more about the iPad accessibility features go to the iPad features web page on accessibility.
So it looks like things are moving fast in the world of accessible eBooks.
If you want to keep up to date with developments I recommend Denise Dwyer's Print for People blog. Denise is a Development Officer with RNIB and her blog is a really helpful up-to-date summary of accessibility developments in the publishing world.