Monday, October 24, 2011

iPad & Tablet Technology: Out of the Enterprise and Into the Classroom

If you saw the recent episode of 60 Minutes, you saw a tribute to the late Steve Jobs not only in the man that he was but also in the good the products that were developed under his leadership are doing. There was a segment focused on how the iPad has been instrumental in helping some schools teach children with autism.

I most often talk about how technology, and more specifically mobile technology, is useful in the enterprise but the 60 Minutes episode inspired me to look beyond my profession and explore how other professions are benefiting. I have been fortunate enough to know a wonderful Speech-Language Pathologist that has dedicated her life to helping children with various learning disabilities thrive among their peers. Below are the highlights (in her own words) from an interview I did with her this past weekend.

You will not be surprised to learn that the same ease of use and intuitiveness that make the iPad an addicting tool also make it a powerful tool for teaching children. The productivity gains that we experience in our everyday business life through app integration with email and other enterprise services also help teaching professionals quickly produce results and report data.

An Interview with Ms. Shari Hodgson, board certified Speech-Language Pathologist, on how mobile technology has improved her work and benefited her clients

How are you using the iPad/tablet in your work?:
I use the iPad daily with my students to address a variety of speech, language and communication goals and objectives. The iPad is an engaging tool that stimulates receptive and expressive language development. There are apps specifically designed for special needs students. iPads are now being used as Augmentative Communication Devices.

Instead of districts paying thousands of dollars for AAC devices, now with the click of a button, one can download an application for the iPad or iPod. Devices that are made specifically to help people speak are typically very cumbersome, expensive, and not user friendly. The iPad and iPod are less expensive, fairly easy to operate and also help remove some of the social stigma associated with certain augmentative devices.

There are so many apps that can dramatically change the lives of individuals with delayed communication needs. I use close to 100 different apps with my students in therapy to address needs from articulation to answering questions, to improving vocabulary, to following directions and many more. These apps offer great visual cues and auditory feedback that aid children with special needs in the learning process.

The iPad has become a cost-saving, convenient, portable library of intervention materials replacing shelves of manuals, therapy cards, and games.

What benefits have you realized?:
There are numerous benefits associated with using this technology. First and foremost, this allowed me to use 21st century skills with my students on a daily basis. It has allowed for improved communication with parents and colleagues.

Many apps allow me to collect data right on the iPad and then the information can be emailed to parents and teachers. This has reduced time spent calculating and reporting data. Also, in and effort to be more "green", it has reduced the amount of paper copies I once used in therapy. I have found apps to replace many of my cut and paste and paper-pencil activities.

What benefits have your clients/customers realized?:
Aside from the may benefits mentioned above, the iPad is also very motivating for my students which has increased student success. I have found the iPad to be much more engaging than traditional therapy materials. In addition, since so many of my students have access to these devices at home, it is easy to recommend apps for follow through and practice. I have a current, up to date, list of all the apps I use on my
blog. Parents are encouraged to visit the blog for suggestions for their children.

What would you like to use the iPad/tablet for in the future? What would be your wish list of requirements that you could use the tablet or mobile technology in general for?:
Wow, this is a tough one. In my perfect world, I would like to develop apps to use with my students in therapy. While there are so many wonderful apps out there, I often find myself thinking, I wish the app did this, or I wish there was a app for that...maybe someday.

In general, how has mobile technology -tablets, smartphones, etc..- improved the way you work and serve your clients/customers?:
In short, mobile technology has just made me a more efficient, environmentally friendly, and more engaging therapist.

Ms. Shari Hodgson has been practicing speech-language pathology since 2000. Ms. Hodgson received her undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University in 1998 and my Masters degree from the University of Toledo in 2000. Ms. Hodgson is certified by the Ohio Board of Speech Pathology and Audiology and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association as well as a pupil services license from the Ohio Department of Education.

Ms. Hodgson first began working in the Columbus Public School system and has worked in clinical, home health, and group home settings. For the past nine years, Ms. Hodgson has been working for the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District in Brecksville Ohio, outside Cleveland where she works with grades K-3. Ms. Hodgson works with children diagnosed with speech-language impairments, learning disabilities, multiple handicaps, Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and developmental delays.

How are you using your tablet at work to do something amazing?