Taking a Byte into 21st C Learning

29 Apr

This week, I had the opportunity to attend an Apple educational showcase event. It was titled “Engaging, enhancing and inspiring – Breaking down barriers to learning”. Within the half-day format, I believe that it was indeed engaging, enhancing and inspiring.

Although hosted by Apple, the three presenters were from across Canada and Europe.  We were treated to: a school program from Ontario, a post-secondary blind student and a software programmer/company founder.

Twentieth Street School has regular and inclusive special education programming. Sabir, the principal spoke about the school context and about her excitement in receiving an iDevice. Enter, Andre, a former CA, now second year teacher, who took the iPod Touch and some apps (like Proloquo2Go, Google, Weather, Dragon Dictation, Voice Memos.)

Andre’s well planned presentation run from his iPodTouch (gotta get me that app!), showed how he used this device in his inclusive specialized classroom for information and communication.  His students would search, use online encyclopedias, local weather, how-to videos. They also worked on expanding their communication with others

through using pics and symbols, creating digital stories, making movies and developing oral fluency. Challenges for

Andre have been ensuring that his students use the

equipment safely and knowing how to effectively and purposefully use the technology without creating any anxiety for a student. Benefits are that the iPod touch is lightweight, apps have been easy to use, all learning styles can be

accommodated, students enjoy the tool since it is at their fingertips (where the active learning happens). Andre had some wonderful student video clips to show how students were using the iPod.


Jessica Rathwell is a creative writing and digital studies student who is blind. She walked up to the front of the room with her seeing eye dog and iPad. She spoke confidently and clearly about how, since June 2009, her whole world has been opened to many opportunities that ‘seeing’ people already have. The date is significant since this is when Apple brought out accessibility settings as part of their iPhone. Now these settings are part of all Apple products. Jessica pointed out features such as voiceover, zoom, contrast switching, monoaudio, Bluetooth Braille, apps like Pages.

David Niemeijer from AssistiveWare spoke about his company providing assistive technology solutions.

I tweeted that: AssistiveWare’s David saying his products r made 4 universal access- ppl ONLY ltd by creativity n talent not by impairment

Other tweets during the morning and afternoon –

Great vision to push for fuller or more complete access for all instead of pushing a single app – assistiveware from @jonathankonrad

AssistiveWare’s tech is impressive and liberating for all those with impairments. Tech IS the great equalizer! from @MultiMediaGrrl

Proloque2go can be demo-ed at any Apple Store from @MrAaronBall

I am really impressed with, and the tech solutions they develop for special ed from @danielespejo

The switchX demo was cool. Also would benefit from a doc cam showing the iPad under click control from @jonathankonrad

Below you see the links shared by David via @agauld (Allan, Apple Ed Acct Exec):
Mac products    
AssistiveWare Videos
AssistiveWare Site
AssistiveWare FAQ
iPad Case          

Overall, it is important for school personnel to be exposed to as much information, resources, and  successful teaching strategies that are available in this digital era.


What an exciting time for our students!

Further links shared by @agauld:

Apple Learning Experience:

Special Education Sign LanguageApps


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