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iPads and Students with Special Needs

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iPads are the most amazing tools.  The level of adaptability and complexity that can created with a simple, easy to use device is astounding.  It is really only limited by your imagination and those of teachers and educators working with classes and individuals.

When considering how to use iPads with students with special needs there are four main things to consider.


1.  The accessibility functions built into the device.

IPads have a number of features built into  the device that allow great functions like voice over, speech, guided access, zoom and black/white picture.

Below is a video explaining guided access.  Guided access allows the iPad to be locked into one app and only released with a passcode.  This is a fabulous feature when working with students who are easy distracted or have poor motor control and keep accidentally exiting the app.


2.  The wide variety of apps in the app store.

Currently there are over 1 million apps in the app store and approximately 10% of those are targeted at the education sector with another 20 000 targeted at the medical market.

Apps like Prologue toGo are invaluable for assisting students to communicate their needs.


3.  Accessories

Third party providers are constantly responding to the needs of the market.  A huge range of cases, wheelchair mounts, stylus, keyboards and other accessories are released onto the market every year.

The site has a huge range with labelled links and pictures:





4.  Online support

There are many websites that provide a huge range of app lists with many coded to individual needs.


One of the best is Spectronics.


They provide online tools, videos, apps reviews and also come out to schools and conferences to provide Professional Development to extend people’s use of the devices.


Other great sites include:

Moms with Apps



Apps for children with special needs




Below is my presentation


Cyber safety in our schools

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WACOT put on a talk this evening presented by Kerry Jarvis from the ACMA

She started off by discussing bullying from the ‘Intervention Method of Shared Concern’. This article discusses and defines this approach.


  • A power imbalance
  • An intention to inflict pain and anguish
  • A lack of empathy and compassion
  • The ability to go unnoticed
  • Bullying behavior in a culture of acceptance.

One aspect of ACMA is dealing with safety online for children aged 4-18.  The website has various pages for parents, young children, schools and teenagers.

ACMA is a government body created to regulate all forms of media. They work with schools, students, staff and parents.

Kerry made a fabulous comment that the “Safety of young people online is a communities responsibility.  We must educate and inform all stakeholders in the community.”

ACMA run free PD for teachers. They invite us all to take a day to explore how we can develop good cyber citizens. The ACMA acknowledges that technology has blurred the boundaries and responsibilities for teachers and schools and the PD will assist schools and the wider school community to define the boundaries and put in place strategies about how to cope with the many issues children access online.

Youth digital culture was referred to in the context of Marc Prenksy articles defining Digital immigrants and digital natives.  These are terms that are currently used by many educators and business people.

I was particularly taken with an expression she used to show the difference between our virtual and onine worlds.  Kerry used the terms  ‘breathing world’ and the ‘digital world’

Gaming and online activities:

Research is indicating that adults are starting to mirror the same things as the children and that one of the fastest growing demographics for gaming and social networking are women, often over 45.

Gaming is big business.  More than a billion dollars a year spent on games. Most are MA15+. Research from the UK is showing that they can be addictive, lead to anti social behaviour and have shown clear links to social isolation, exhaustion, various addictions and so on.

She highlighted a number of issues with facebook,  our digital reputations and the various privacy settings that can be applied. She highlighted that Facebook now has a section on safety for educators.

Various educational systems approach the use of social networking sites differently.  Queensland has banned teachers from friending students on facebook.

I believe that if it has an educational context, is relevant to the content and is used appropriately, it provides a fabulous way to connect with the community. But teachers must be very conscious about how and why it is used.

Some questions to consider re your digital reputation…

  • How do I make decisions about my behavior when online?
  • What message am I giving the world with my photos and comments online?
  • How am I portraying myself to others and why?
  • What is the impact on me , my family and friends and my future?
  • Should I discuss this with leadership team?

She showed a fabulous discussion with young people and HR managers taken from the SBS hack half hour.

In an article published by google a few weeks ago, the CEO of google stated that some people will have to change their identity to remove the tarnish of comments and photos highlights many of the issues that will face todays teens inthe job hunting market. Link to article
Kerry stressed the point that we don’t teach about to act online. We need to model and demonstrate how to act. We relinquish control too easily. She used the analogy that we don’t hand the keys to a car over without many supervised driving lessons and clear safety talks from parents, experts and friends, yet we give children pieces of technology that are the keys to the world without anywhere near enough education.

Pictures of children who are under 18 showing them naked, semi-naked or in sexually suggestive poses,  is child pornography. Taking, receiving or storing can be inadvertent but may be considered a crimal offense. Sexting with boyfriends is one of fastest growing practices in very young girls, often starting at 12 or sometimes even earlier.

Kerry showed a fabulous, relevant Australian video about sexting.  Thinkuknow sexting educational video.


Challenge for us in schools and working at sytem level is to look at our policies and consider…

  • What are our policies?
  • Do we need to change them regularly to reflect current trends and practices.

Banning is not going to solve the problem.  Good modelling, sound educational practices, clear flexible policies and open communciaiton with all stake holders are all necessary to ensure our kids have a future that will not require a name change to achieve success away from the evidence of youthful indescretions.