It has been very exciting to be a part of this project that used iPads to deliver training to young learners with disabilities. We found that the use of mobile technologies increases the learners’ level of engagement and allows them to undertake activities that are suitable for their ability level. There is also the opportunity for them to move to new levels as their skills develop.
We found that it was important to use apps that were appropriate to the learners’ individual level of ability rather than worrying that the graphics might be too “babyish”. The learners were very supportive of each other in this respect but in a different group this could be an issue to consider.
This group found the iPads easy to use and because they are not bulky they are unobtrusive and still allow the learners to feel part of a group and focus on the teacher when necessary without being distracted by bulky screens and other equipment.
We have created this list of tips for other organisations and teachers who may wish to run a program similar to this. Here they are:
- Start enrolment process earlier so there is time to gather ID
- Start with a few apps and add to this each week so that learners are not overwhelmed to begin with and they have something new to engage in each week
- Spend time in each of the apps before you use them in class so that you can answer any technical questions in class
- Set up the administration part of the app before taking them into class – this can be time consuming but makes for a smoother class
- Take photos each week for evidence of engagement
- Teach students to take screen shots when they have completed tasks for evidence
- Look for apps that have a reporting mechanism
- Be mindful of American apps where the language may be different eg: money notes / bills
- If using apps with voice you may need to spend time arranging the speed of voice so that it is easily understood
- Look for apps with levels so that students can move through at their own pace
- Use a combination of apps and teaching styles in each lesson to cater for all students
- Purchase headphones so that each student can be listening to their own app
- Spend time getting to know each student