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Reviews sites to learn more about iDevice Apps
I have been speaking quite a bit to private therapy practices, SLP associations, schools, hospitals and families about the iPad. I have added it to my frequently used collection of “technology tools” and bring it out with just about all of my clients in addition to a laptop computer and online interactive sites. Of course now that I have an iPad 1 and an iPad 2 there are reports by credible organizations such as Bloomberg News that the iPad 3 is coming out in March. It appears that it will have a faster processor, better resolution and be able to work with new networks. I don’t think it will be a game changer for those of us who invested in the iPad 2. I try to have the newest devices and gadgets (such as the LeapPad by LeapFrog I just purchased and am becoming familiar with), but I don’t plan on purchasing an iPad 3. At least not for now.
Once you take the plunge and shell out a considerable amount of money to purchase an iPad- the challenge becomes how to use it. What is all the hype about? Was it worth the investment? There are currently hundreds of thousands of apps. Which are best for you and your situation? How should you configure you iPad and what is the best way to do it? I help individuals and organizations, in person as well as online, learn about strategies and apps that are most appropriate for their situation- but I also strive to teach people how to continue this learning process since new apps and features are coming out every day. There are also many ways to use the iPad to help individuals who have communication, cognitive and learning challenges. The calendar, cameras, online access and features such as the contact list can be very helpful.
In past newsletters, I wrote about some of my top picks for apps which are the best value for a wide range of people. I have only skimmed the surface with regard to helpful ways the iDevices can help people. Many people ask me what I do to learn about the apps. How do I keep up with it all? I subscribe to many listserves, blogs, and newsletters. I also connect online with Facebook and LinkedIn Groups. I probably spend at least 5-10 hours a week trying out new technologies/apps. As I prepare for new clients or to give a presentation- I make sure I am up to date on the latest technologies.To me it is fun- I really enjoy it. Finding tools to help others improve their lives is one of the activities I most enjoy about being a speech- language pathologist. I want to empower people to help themselves.
Here are a few of my favorite online resources which review apps that are helpful for individuals with communication, cognitive and literacy challenges. Check them out and let me know what you think…. these sites tend to be well organized and updated. They each have a different focus and are written by individuals or organizations with different sets of experiences, strengths and professions. Some are produced by parents, some by SLPs or teachers and some by organizations. I plan to post this list on my website and will update it if you have suggestions of more sites you have found particularly helpful.
Once you select one of the above sites and find a few you think might be helpful- keep the following tips in mind…
Reviews– On the iTunes store there are often helpful reviews and ratings shared by users of the app that can shed unique insights on how they use the app. I also often do a Google search for reviews of the app.
Company Website-Most app pages include a link to the developer’s website. Check it out. Some have reviews on their site and provide instructions and videos on their site or linke to You Tube demo or instructional videos.
Free and Lite Version– Many of the more expensive apps offer limited versions of their product which are a great way to find out if the app is a good match for your situation. Sometimes the difference is that here are no advertisements or requests for in app purchases.
Intended Use– Some apps are produced solely for entertainment and reinforcement, some to improve specific behaviors and some to compensate for areas of weakness. There are apps that are more appropriate for children and others for adults. Some apps are best used by professionals and others are fine for the individuals with the impairments to use on their own. I have found that how I use the app with a client is often at least as important as the quality of the app itself.