Sunday, May 26, 2013

iPad app: Move & Match

Move & Match App
Move & Match app on iTunes (US $1.99)

What it is: Listed in the "Education" category, this app lets you create elements on a background and move them around freely. Elements can only be rectangular, but they can hold photos/pictures or words, they can be custom sized (as can the text within), they have a variety of background colors, and they can be cloned. If this description doesn't do much for your imagination, look at the screen images of examples I threw together really quickly (or look at the developers' examples of uses in iTunes via the link above).

Within the app you make a project file for each exercise that you create, and hence can build yourself a nice database of go-to tasks for a variety of goals. The developers also have a selection of pre-created projects that you can download off Dropbox directly into the app and use (this is accessible via the "i" information screen within the app).

Screen Image 1: Closed paragraph
How we can use it in Tx: This app allows easy creation of a host of closed-exercises that require either filling in the blank from provided choices (like in Screen Image 1), multiple choice answers, any kind of matching, or word/sentence building. For cogn goals you can create sequencing and sorting tasks. If you take the time you can build some useful visuospatial/executive function tasks such as completing a pattern or an analogy (you'd need to create some images externally--via an image editor and then get the pictures on your iPad first). I discuss some of these suggestions in the "specific examples" section below. But really, the possibilities are endless... just about anything you do with worksheets that involves multiple choice can be replicated and expanded on using this app!

Goals we can target in Tx with this app: Language and word finding goals through a variety of fill-in-blank, closed paragraph, matching, word/sentence building or multiple choice tasks. Higher level cogn goals like planning, sequencing and reasoning. Sequencing and sorting either words, numbers or images (e.g., photographs of various stages of some activity, just like photo sorting cards but all in one screen). You can make simple math problems with multiple choice answers (there's actually a few of these ready-made and freely available from the developers already). You can create a background monthly calendar with fill-in elements to work on orientation and recall.

Screen Image 2: Sequencing photos and/or text
Some specific examples:

1. Sequencing/sorting: As I mention above, you can take photos of various stages of an activity (e.g., doing laundry, heating up a pizza, making ice cubes, etc.). You can import pictures from your album which means you can use your camera or do image searches online, save them to album, and use them from album. Once you have enough steps to sequence you just let the client move them around into the correct order. You can also make text elements to sort or sequence (e.g., months, numbers, days of the week, or steps of an activity listed in text instead of as photos). See Screen Image 2 of a quick and dirty example where I use photos I took for another app I reviewed recently, but also added text that can be moved and reordered.

2. For language goals you can create just about any matching exercise you can come up with. Antonyms, synonyms, definitions, pictures of items and their names... etc.

Screen Image 3: Categorizing text and/or images
3. Categorizing task: create a few headings (e.g., furniture, food, countries, etc.) and a bunch of words or images that fit in each of these and have your client drag the words around to place them under the appropriate category name. See Screen Image 3 for a quick and dirty example I made for this task. The images I just downloaded after a very quick google search, and, you can see at the bottom of the screen the elements waiting to be sorted.

4. Scanning activity: create a whole bunch of elements (icons or words or letters or numbers or even just squares with colors) and direct your client to find (and, for example, move to a specific side of the screen) all the elements that fit some set of criteria (e.g., all the blue squares, or all the blue squares with "r").

Screen Image 4: Calendar
5. Orientation/recall: use an image of a calendar (in my example in Screen Image 4 I used a weekly view of the iPad Calendar that was blank) and add some elements that can be moved around (visitors, routines like therapy and meals, etc.). Work on today, or recall yesterday. I like the weekly view for this because it has all this room to hold the collection of elements while the client decides if to use them and where to put them in the daily list.

There's just too many things you can do with this app to list them all... Since these projects can be saved and shared, maybe if there's enough SLPs using this app we can have our own section on the developer's Dropbox down the road... or find some other way to share amongst ourselves. I know I plan to create a whole load of projects in this app, and although some may take great time and effort, I know I'll use them a lot.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

iPad app: Kokako 123 Audio and Visual Training

Kokako 123 App
Kokako 123 Audio and Visual Training app on iTunes (free)

What it is: Described as a game to "help auditory/visual training". This app's description on iTunes specifies that it is not intended to replace therapy, but to go hand in hand with it by providing repetitive practice to enhance skills. It definitely is targeted at children, but manageably so.

The game only does one thing: it gives a series of cards with numbers one at a time (see screen image 1) and asks the user to repeat them by using the keypad to enter each number below its card. One of the best things about it is that the user can choose what order to put the numbers in (same order they were presented from left to right, or backwards from right to left, or random).

Screen Image 1
Settings for this game include choices for how many cards will be presented (from 1 to 8; the example in the screen shots has 4 cards), and for how to present the cards (visually by flipping them over, auditory presentation where you can choose one of two male voices, or both visual and auditory). There is also a setting for how much time to space in ms between cards as they are presented.

Screen Image 2
Once user puts in the sequence and presses "go" feedback re accuracy is presented. As you can see in screen image 2, feedback includes which cards were correct, how long the turn took, and a count of how many turns were correct (screen shot 2 says "0" because not all 4 numbers were correct).

The themes are rather childish (you can choose car, flower or star; I have it set to the least annoying star) and there's a happy or sad star that comes up at the end of each turn. Not overwhelming, but nevertheless, it's there.

How we can use it in Tx: Set the activity to fit your client's needs in terms of how many numbers to remember (start with 3, and increase complexity to 4, 5 or even 6 if you think it's appropriate for your client's level).

Depending on the goals decide if you want the target number list presented orally or visually, and how fast. Maybe you'd like to have the client repeat each number as it is presented? That's a good memory strategy, and if you decide to go that path you may want to put in a longer delay between cards. Then have the client either tell you the sequence to enter or, if they have the dexterity, have them enter the numbers using the keypad.

What's nice is that you can also use this as a memory/mental manipulation activity and ask for the sequence backwards (since you can enter the answer in any order you want). You could also ask for the number sequence to be repeated in ascending or descending order. If you have the capability, you can enter the numbers in their correct spots; otherwise you can just enter the numbers in ascending or descending order and not worry about the game telling you the answer is incorrect--since it will flip the cards over at the end you'll be able to check accuracy that all numbers were recalled.

Goals we can target in Tx with this app: You can customize the settings and activity to target memory, immediate recall, spaced recall, working memory, attention,  and visual & auditory processing to a lesser extent.

Some specific examples:

The memory and attention activities are limited to numbers which is rather rote, so you don't want to spend too much time doing only this activity, but it can be useful for a short task or two.

1. As I mention above, if you want to work on memory and mental manipulation you can ask for the sequence of numbers to be given backwards or in ascending or descending order. If you ask for the numbers in reverse order, you can just enter them in reverse order and let the app tell you how accurate you were. If you do ascending or descending, you can just ignore the app's feedback on accuracy (since the game expects the numbers to be entered in their correct spots, not just be the correct ones) and judge for yourself when the cards are turned over whether all the numbers presented are accounted for. Should be just as effective and simple enough (except for the frowny star that will show up).

2. For spaced retrieval: you would think that you'd be able to use the running timer on the screen during the turn to space out input from output, but in fact this timer doesn't run during the turn--it merely returns the total time it took once the turn is over (and "go" is pressed). So you'll need your own watch/timer to space out this task. But otherwise, it's doable (although frankly, I'm not a fan of doing context-free numbers in this sort of activity).

3. If you are not working on mental manipulation that involves returning the numbers in a specific sequence, you can--like advised in #1 above--just ignore the accuracy of the order of the replies, and focus only on whether the client remembered all the items on the list. Again, you would not use the game's accuracy feedback for this and just keep track of it separately.

4. Brain-training: for the regular (not rehab-patient) population, this game can provide great training for memory and focus. Since you can set the game to provide you with a sequence of up to 8 numbers, with very little delay between them, visual or read, you can really set the task up to challenge anyone's function. You can also make yourself give the numbers back in ascending or descending sequence while getting them in their correct slots. And you can motivate yourself to return the answer faster each time as well.