I last wrote to you in October saying “Hi” and that I was glad to help in sponsoring the fine ConnSense bulletin! At that time, I had already realized that the iPad had, almost completely, taken our field by storm. Fortunately, when it first came out (April 2010) I quickly realized what a force it would be and developed accessories that made it *truly* accessible. But in the last 6 months, I’ve noticed something very interesting about *implementing* the iPad, so the next paragraph might be titled “Beware the iPad ”
Apple ends many of its iPad commercials with the single word “Magical.” Unfortunately, many parents, and even teachers/professionals, even sub-consciously, buy into this claim. That is, I see most (yes, I mean most) parents/professionals attempt to implement the iPad with their child/student by simply handing it to them (or holding it for them) with Proloquo2Go (a fine app, BTW), and try to teach them to ‘go at it’. Many (actually, most) times this ends in failure, for one of *many* reasons. Unfortunately, the child/student is the one that gets ‘blamed’, by not being ‘ready’ for these new tools. or not paying enough attention, or their motor skills were insufficient for the task.
Now I don’t mean “blamed” in the sense of chastisement (although I do see that also), but in the sense that the parent/professional doesn’t realize it was *their* fault in picking the wrong tools! These include:
Not creating a ‘fixed work environment’ for the iPad: I’m referring to a situation where the iPad is not positioned and held in place, appropriately, for the child/student. Having the child/student hold it, or someone else hold it for them is fine for *trying* things, but not for *doing* things. Simply putting the iPad in a strong, sturdy case and stand, that doesn’t collapse/slide, or mounting it in such a way as to not allow the iPad to become the ‘manipulative’ (the “manipulative” should be the *content* ON the iPad).
Using inappropriate apps: These include apps that are too ‘high’ or too ‘low’. For almost 30 years now we have seen Mac and PC programs (”apps” is just a ’sexy’ word for programs) that start at a person’s level and are picked to, incrementally advance the person. Such is not the case, at least that I’ve seen, with the iPad. People pick apps at random and try to use them. Heck, who can blame someone with so many of them in the $1.99 range! A good, task analyzed app costs money, more than that amount. It takes *years* of experience, research and development to create something, anything, of value for our learners!
Ignoring a person’s physical disability: An iPad doesn’t ‘fix’ a person. Sounds like simple common sense, yes? But all too often I see parents/professionals trying to implement the iPad in ways that ignore all the access issues that were previously addressed with computers, usually over many years. Issues that are obvious to me, and were probably obvious to all concerned, now get almost ignored, as this new technological marvel, somehow, creates a panacea, a fix-all promise for the parent/professional (notice I do *not* say “for the child/student!”).
As I lecture across the country, working with *hundreds* of parents, users, learners, professionals, *hands-on*, I see all of the above taking place in the last 2 years. Here is a link of me ‘in action’: <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aT6g1Q9lj9Q>
Sidenote: Even though I don’t have any letters after my name other than B.A., with 28 years of working with persons of need and professionals that help them, I feel I am well qualified to comment on the above. In fact, many people around the world view me as a valuable resource, for which I am very grateful. So it is with some authority that I raise the above issues, even if you *have* had more schooling than I
In fact, as I use the iPad, successfully, in my workshops, with actual users/learners, many in my audience nod their heads in agreement as I state the points above. They, too, are coming to realize that the iPad is actually being *over*-prescribed, and that they, when they bring this point up to a parent, become the ‘villain’! In other words, recommending NOT to use, or qualifying the iPad makes some caregivers feel they are being denied the current coolest technology.
So, in conclusion, use the iPad as a *tool*, the same way you used computers over the years. It’s not different, really, just a better tool, but NOT a reason for changing the *way* you do things, just what you’re using *to* do them. Yes, the iPad is “magical” but it’s *not* a ‘miracle’.
–Special Needs Tech. Specialist: http://rjcooper.com