May 20, 2010

Assistive Mobile Technology to Help Students Succeed

Title: Assistive Mobile Technology to Help Students Succeed
Format: Poster Presentation PDF of actual poster
Where: SUNY Plattsburgh, Angell College Center
When: Wednesday, May 26, 6:30 - 7:45 pm

The iPod touch is a multipurpose mobile device that provides easy access to text, images, media, and an enormous library of free and low-cost educational apps. The mobility and relative affordability of an iPod provides opportunities for students with assistive learning needs to succeed in the classroom using technology that was previously limited to a computer, was difficult to use, and expensive. The iPod's touch screen interface reduces anxiety for students by empowering them to quickly master essential tools that facilitate learning and engagement.

Using a combination of free or low-cost applications the iPod touch can be transformed into a video player, audiobook player (with or without text), voice recorder for recording lectures, specialized e-text reader, text-to-speech converter, speech dictation device, sound amplifier, and online reader of reference materials. Aside from its obvious use as a stand-alone mobile device, the iPod is an ideal companion for a laptop or desktop computer because of its portability, touch screen interface, and on-the-go access. Listed below are a number of scenarios that provide opportunities for students to improve their success in the classroom.

For many students comprehension of printed text materials depends on reading and listening to the text at the same time. Although it is possible to scan printed materials into electronic format the process is tedious and inaccurate. Read more ...

A number of instructors are recording their lectures for course casting that provides opportunities for students to review materials for reinforcement or that they missed. If course podcasts are not available, then students can request permission from their instructor, especially if they are registered through their office of accessibility services. Read more ...

Blogs provide important opportunities to reflect and write in an open environment for learning through feedback, revision, and sharing. Converting a blog to spoken text provides many opportunities for students to reinforce learning. Read more ...

Although desktop software such as Flame Reader and iSpeak It! provide more features, control, and organization of text-to-speech recordings, they typically require a three-step process: convert text to speech, copy the recording to iTunes, and copy the spoken text to an iPod touch. Read more ...

Electronic readers provide students access to an enormous library of free and electronic books, periodicals, and newspapers that can be directly read on an iPod. Although the use of e-books is already growing, there is expected to be a substantial impact when the iPad and other touch screen tablets reach the market in early spring. Read more ...

The potential for speech recognition is significant and already practical with new apps such as Dragon Dictation and Dragon Search, although the free version has limitations. Human speech is processed and recognized through online servers that provide opportunities for inputting text without having to type. Read more ...

Except for the lack of a built-in camera and cell phone capability, an iPod touch connected to a Wi-Fi network and equipped with an optional microphone is closely functional to an iPhone — without the monthly wireless costs. Refer to the section Microphones for a listing of recommended iPod microphones.

There are a number of iPod touch microphones available, varying in quality and price - some up to $40 each. I have tried these low-cost mics with good success.
  • For under $2.00 at Amazon the Mini Capsule Microphone is of surprisingly high quality, although it’s really small and easy to misplace. Buy more than one.
  • The $8.00 Headset Adapter + Microphone includes a 30" cable and clip-on mic that claims to work with the 1G iPod Touch in addition to the newer 2G-3G models. Plug in a stereo headset and you have a hands-free speaking and listening device - really handy when carrying on phone conversations with Skype.


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