Friday, July 25, 2014

Update on the Progressions Dilemma

Well it's done and dusted.  We now officially have ICT Progressions at my school although we have changed the name to Digital Technologies Guidelines.  Some teachers will be trialling them this term as they are still at the draft stage.  It will interesting to see whether my fears come to fruition or not.

We have high hopes these guidelines will support teachers to feel more confident they are covering at least the basics but hopefully many will also cover much more than what is listed in the guidelines.  A side benefit should be more consistency across the school - we hope!

Please feel free to take a look at what we have come up with and give us your feedback.  The guidelines are deliberately broad to allow for individuality, choice of applications and some future proofing.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Progressions Dilemma

For years I have resisted the urge to develop e-Learning progressions at my school. By this I mean a document that lists the various ICT skills students need at each year level. Why am I so resistant? I don't like the idea of listing what students need to know because some teachers will see the list as exhaustive or prescriptive and do nothing else over and above this. You also need to think of your audience and pitch the level of expectations so they are achievable for all teachers and students. How does this cater for more confident and capable learners? But I am growing older and this year I found myself bending to the will of the majority. The truth is that there is little consistency across our school in what our students can and can't do when it comes to e-Learning. Teachers can't assume anything when the students arrive in their classrooms in January - some students can't remember their login while others blog daily and create amazing content at the drop of a hat. I am one lonely voice - it seems most of my colleagues at my school think we need e-Learning Progressions to improve consistency and increase skill levels overall. And they could be right. We won't know until we try so that's what we are working on at the moment. We are currently working through issues such as how specific the progressions will be - will they list generic skills or particular applications? Will they be divided into year levels or curriculum levels or something entirely different? We have tried to gather examples of how other schools are grappling with this but if anyone would like to contribute their two cents worth we would be grateful!

Friday, October 12, 2012

ULearn Conference 2012

What an amazing three days it's been at ULearn12!

Three best things about ULearn12:

  1. the people
  2. the people
  3. the people
Three worst things about ULearn12:
  1. the internet (not CORE's fault)
  2. only one ABBA song at the Conference Dinner
  3. saying goodbye to friends old and new ...
Pledge for ULeran 2013 if I'm lucky enough to attend:
As an ADE I will put my nerves aside and participate in the Apple sMACkdown.

I've made some notes here - from the presentations I have attended this year.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Google Apps Summit @ Auckland


Very exciting to be at the first ever Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit in New Zealand.  It was an early start to the day in the car with @FionaGrant, @Allanahk and @barbs1.  Hilarious tiki tour route to get to Albany Senior High School thanks to @FionaGrant and google maps!  So many friends and familiar faces - it's going to be a great day and a fabulous kick-off to ULearn 2012 ...

Click here to view my notes for today.

Friday, September 21, 2012

2012 KnowledgeNET & eLearning Conference


21-22 September 2012
Takapuna Grammar School
www.knconference.co.nz
#KNetCon12

Like most schools, my school has limited funds for attending conferences so I was not initially intending on registering for this event.  However, just last week I was surprised to be offered funding to cover these costs by a confidential donor.  Yipee!

My notes for the two days are here if you are interested.

Apple Learning Tour

Last week I headed along to the first ever Auckland Apple Learning Tour with four teachers from my school.  The format included a "keynote" introduction before splitting into two workshops and then coming together at the end for a final "keynote".

The four teachers are all trialling the use of iPod Touches and iPads in their classes so they were keen to get some practical ideas for their programmes.  I was more interested in the deployment and management of mobile devices.

We all came away with some new knowledge and overall were pleased we made the effort to attend.  It also gave us the opportunity to talk about issues we are grappling with as a school such as BYOD and how it would look for our community.  Possibly one of the most beneficial aspects of seminars such as this is the face-to-face time with like-minded educators and sharing what is happening in our schools.

The biggest surprise of the afternoon was no alcohol at the drinks and nibbles at the end - this caused a group gasp when it was announced in the lecture theatre!

My notes from the afternoon are here if you are interested.

A message to Apple - please do this again as we'll be there with bells on!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Steve Jobs

I was lucky enough to be given the Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs biography for Christmas by a friend (in fact I got two and I had to return one). I found it to be a thoroughly good read and at times quite inspirational. I certainly kept thinking about it for sometime after I finished reading it which, from experience, is one sign of a good book!

Today Rachel Boyd posted this on Facebook and I just had to share it myself - thanks Rachel! So if you haven't already checked out the book - give it a go!


Source: piccsy.com via Rachel on Pinterest


So if you haven't already checked out the book - give it a go!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

IMPD Introduction Day

At my school we were recently given the opportunity to enrol in an NZQA Visual Arts course delivered by Lifeway College. When I sent the email around school asking for expressions of interest I expected maybe one or two replies. 24 staff ended up enrolling including our class teachers, our principal, both deputy principals, two teacher aides and our network manager!

Today we are attending the first of four full days and two half days. While the sessions will usually be held at our own school, the first one is at Lifeway College. We have the opportunity to mingle with teachers from other schools also enrolled in the course. There are many familiar faces ….

Lifeway College, 95 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden
8:30am - 4:00pm Saturday 29 October 2011

Welcome and introduction by Craig Hansen
There will be the opportunity to have Lifeway College students come to our school and work with teachers and/or students over the next year. Potential here for working with our Digikids as well as some in-class support to work with tools we wouldn’t normally be able to acces.

Photography with Stuart Hale
Tips for buying and using school cameras:

  • Smaller is not good
  • Must be able to override auto mode - programme mode good
  • Get a brand name you recognise that makes good optics
  • Buttons needed - mode dials are easiest, rather than menu, flash off/on button, macro button, zoom lever, perferrably T or TV or fireworks mode to change exposure
  • AA batteries - recharge batteries must say “ready to use” - could be any brand, have spare batteries for each camera
  • Quick chargers half the life of rechargeable batteries - $100 - but only take 15 minutes
  • Not necessarily expensive
  • See dpreview.com before purchasing
  • Lanyards for safety
  • Minimum 2GB memory card - SD cards most common, don’t use camera brand with own proprietary cards
  • Stay with same brands
  • Site - 100 photos that changed the world and worth1000.com - great ideas
  • Turn volume to maximum so kids know when they are taking photos
  • Show the kids the two-stage shutter to get better photos - focus (half shutter) on the element you want to be sharp, move away to take the photo with the background/foreground in the way
  • don’t use flash photography at night

The language of photography

  • The rule of thirds - the camera is not a gun to target what you want in the middle! Try to get points of interest along lines that divide the picture into thirds. The intersections of the nine squares are the most important areas.
  • Often no flash is best but hold steady - often need a tripod or something else that won’t move. No flash and no zoom (use full wide angle) with macro shots.
  • Exposure time - delay to approximately 10 seconds, can use cellophane to change light colour and draw with a torch! Preferably buy a bright torch with adjustable zoom.
  • Zoom - closer is better but can crop in iPhoto easily while maintaining quality of image.
  • 5 Photo stories or 5 frame storytelling - great idea to use in class, concise but powerful stories, many examples available online if you search.
  • Photo books - pay for these for special events, school trips etc - can be accessioned and borrowed from library

Photography challenges (see worth1000.com for ideas):

  • Rule of thirds
  • Two stage shutter
  • No auto - use programme mode
  • Try flash on and flash off with same shot
  • Change point of view for various shots - mouse, possum, giraffe
  • Delicate (simplified background)
  • Alphabet (not man made)
  • Depth of field
  • Into the sun - but only use the view finder


Thinking about Art with Nicol O Shea

  • art seeks to educate, elevate and provoke
  • Shane Cotton tries to educate us about the history of this land
  • Dick Frizzell wants to elevate the everyday visions of NZ into high art
  • Joanna Langford’s magical landscapes remind us that our environment is fragile and on the verge of an ecological collapse


Blogs and other Social Media with David Kinane
Set up an account in Tumblr for use with this course (belindajohnston.tumblr.com). Can use own blog if you already have one.


Plenary

First assignment due 6 December! I'm dreading going to school on Monday - I can only imagine the complaints I'm going to hear about this assignment!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

ULearn11 Breakout Presentation



Here is the description of the workshop:
We have been using e-Portfolios with Year 1 to 6 students at Elm Park School since 2007 and shortly afterwards made the decision to use our e-Portfolios as our sole method of reporting to parents. During this presentation we will discuss our ongoing journey to implement e-Portfolios school-wide, our purpose behind the decision to start the journey, the successes and the challenges - warts and all! We’ll have a look at some e-Portfolios examples and share the professional development, resources, equipment and web 2.0 tools that we have found most useful to help us along the way.

We use KnowledgeNET’s Learning Journals at Elm Park School to create our e-Portfolios but this workshop will also be of interest to those using other applications.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ULearn 11 @ Rotorua

Finally I'm here at ULearn again for the first time since 2009. I enthusiastically enrolled the four of us from EPS in the pre-conference workshops held today although the closer it got the more stressed I have become! What seemed like a good idea in Term 2 suddenly seemed a little less attractive when I looked at my long to-do list that isn't getting any shorter these holidays! Now that I'm here the excitement has returned - thinking about all the people I'm going to catch-up with and all the learning opportunities I'm going to be exposed to ....

First up - a full day workshop on questioning with Trevor Bond.

Making a Difference - Keeping it Real
tbond@clear.net.nz
http://ictnz.com

Two types of questions:

Unexpressed (cognitive, hidden part of the process of thinking)
Expressed (communicated)

Questioning is the engine-house of thinking - De Bono

Individually tried a Sudoku for five minutes. What were we thinking?
  • analysis, eliminating - what are the possibilities?
  • could it be ...
  • can it be ...
  • if I put ...
Thinking during this activity involved the process of asking and answering questions.

Smart Schools: Better Thinking and Learning for Every Child by David Perkins (colleague of De Bono). He discusses stages of thinking:
  • tacit (automaticity)
  • aware (making conscious decisions)
  • strategic (planning, thinking ahead)
  • reflective (evaluating)
Thinking is when you talk to yourself and your mouth stays shut - De Bono

Questioning is our most important intellectual tool - Neil Postman

Cognitive skills handout eg synthesising, generalising, investigating etc. All of them involve questioning in some part.

Learning is the process of extending our known to include something that was unknown and effective thinking is the activity that powers learning. Effective thinking is a process of asking and answering questions.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ICT Session for Year 2 Provisionally Registered Teachers

Some links we will be using today:
shape poems (juniors)
Art Rage - purchase details on Software for Learning



Key applications for students:
  • Kid Pix - drawing, voice, photos, video, slideshows - purchase details on Software for Learning (Apple or Windows)
  • Comic Life - Purchase details through Software for Learning (Apple or Windows)
  • iMovie/Movie Maker -photos and/or video
  • Photo Story - free download from Microsoft for Windows only
  • Garageband/Audacity - audio (free)

ICT session with Year 1 Provisionally Registered Teachers

Some links we will be using today:


shape poems (juniors)

Key applications for students:
  • Kid Pix - drawing, voice, photos, video, slideshows
  • Comic Life
  • iMovie/Movie Maker/Photo Story - photos and/or video
  • Garageband/Audacity - audio

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ICT Lead Teacher Workshop

It's that time again - the Eastnet ICT-PD Cluster lead teachers met today for a workshop at Shelly Park School. There are only six of us in the group now which is about half of our size during the cluster contract but what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality of content!

We started with our own mini smackdown and all shared a few cool tools, websites etc and had time to have a play. This was followed by a visit to some classes to see the layout of the school and some e-Learning in action. I led a session on RSS feeds and Google Reader which led onto other Google stuff including setting up an iGoogle page each!

In between all of that we have a yummy home baked morning tea courtesy of Ruth and a delicious lunch at Cafe Paris in Howick. As usual the highlights for me were the people and the conversations. We all share a love of ICT but more than that we also share similar challenges at our different schools and I really appreciate the opportunity to vent some stuff and know the others will empathise!

Over lunch we talked about how valuable we find these days even though they are only once a term and we have already planned the content for our final 2011 workshop which will be held at Elm Park School on 9 November:
  • Another smackdown - these are cool fun!
  • e-Portfolios - what do these look like at EPS and how do they work
  • Student Led Conferences - students will come and talk to us about what they will be doing at our upcoming conferences
  • Google apps - what is out there, who is using what and why
  • Set dates and topics for 2012
  • And our usual blogging session of course!!!!
Until the next one ....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

EduCamp Auckland 2011

EduCampAKL 2011 wiki
http://acesnet.wikispaces.com/EduCampAKL+2011

Google Doc with notes
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1a-phrwD7fsi_97SMzhSlYI0_iMc246d03NTcAOOKztI/edit?hl=en&authkey=CKWA-IMC#

BJ notes below

Welcome by Claire Amos, EGGS
Second year of ICTPD contract with a focus on Moodle and Google Apps

SMACKDOWN
http://acesnet.wikispaces.com/EduCampAKL+Smackdown+2011

Dorothy Burt, Pt England School
Teacher Dashboard

Sonia, Newmarket School
Titan Pad http://ulimasao.titanpad.com/2?

Fiona Grant
http://www.etv.org.nz/education/login.php
Recent revamped, useful videos and resources for school. Some free, some subscription. Unlike online links - these are guaranteed to be available long term. Need to set up a login for your school.

Stuart Hale, Consultant
Mobile Technology - http://www.delicious.com/halenz
QR codes in Education - http://livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=51894
Augmented reality - http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2011/07/augmented-reality-in-plain-english.html

Tracy Tindle
http://prezi.com/

Blair, Summerlands School
http://www.remotesnap.com/
App costs about $4, can also download for Macs or PCs. Can set a folder to be a dropbox so photos shoot through as the photos are taken.

Robyn Wills, Mission Heights School
Jing http://www.techsmith.com/jing/
Screencasting. Uses it for ESOL, communicating with parents. Free version (5 mins movie), Pro programme available.

Jenny Green
http://www.my3mg.com/reusables/
Reviews of games earn points, free membership.

Cheryl Harvey, Team Solutions
http://bighugelabs.com/mosaic.php
Uses for embedding photographic evidence for teacher reflections.

Blair, Summerlands School
System preferences, language and text, text, +, - to replace errors automatically. Will work in any native Mac application.


Brian Edgar, Otahuhu College
Edmodo - likens it to FB for classes. Closed system for communication between teachers and students. Don't need email to sign up. Easy to use, students sign up themselves.

Taratj
http://www.jamendo.com/en/
Creative commons music download for free, good for making movies with class.
http://solesandsomes.wikispaces.com/
Self organised learning environments. Uses laptops with 'must have' four kids per laptop.

Claire Amos, EGGS
http://www.screenr.com/
Screencasting like Jing. Free version up to five minutes. Alternatives to "How to" sheets. Quick, easy, instant, embeddable. Plunder Claire's libra y if you wish - http://www.screenr.com/user/ClaireA

Naketa Ikihele
http://journeythroughteaching.blogspot.com/2011/06/storytellingwhat-memories-does-this.html
Capturing stories from local whanau to enrich students.

Helen Prescott
http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?title=Hatea_a_rangi___Marvin_Software&video_id=53377

Pete Hall, DP at Upper Harbour School
https://www.dropbox.com/
Download software and also synchronises in the cloud. Eg university assignments continually syncing when connected. Lets you use any file from any application and share the link for others to download.

Mary McQuoid
Focus on iPads in Education
es.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewMultiRoom?fcId=444204754

Gerard, Papatoetoe High School
http://softwareforlearning.tki.org.nz/Snapshots/Geocaching
Geocaching - tell your kids to get lost!

Ksenia T, Point View School
http://www.voki.com/
Uses for instructional writing, ESOL, current events

Linda Lehrke, Sommerville Intermediate
Special needs students - using iPads. Have a purpose - Dan Pink. One student has own iPad and also one for the class. Purpose, mastery and automony = motivation.

Tabitha Roder

Margaret May
http://kudlian.com/

Linda Lehrke, Sommerville Intermediate
Real Player - download video from any computer.
Augmented reality - free download http://www.aurasma.com/
iPhone Explorer - http://www.macroplant.com/iphoneexplorer/

Rachel Boyd, DP at Waiuku School
http://zondle.com/publicPages/welco
Good from Year 1 to secondary school. Can use existing games or create games. Initially focussed on sight words. Can be embedded. Free free free.

Lenva, DP at BBI
800 students into movie making and audio for e-Portfolios. Free storage is Divshare - 5GB. Every class has their own account. Embed code for copying and pasting. Lenva's wiki has over 1000 web 2.0 tools.

Stef, Student Teacher at Victoria University
Uses for distance learning - hastag for NZ/Australian teachers

Lynne Laburn, Pt View School
http://tripwow.tripadvisor.com/
Used as a world trip with 5 and 6 year olds.

Steve Voisey, EGGS (music teacher)
Uses on iPad, iPhone, MacBook and every device he ever touches. Notes are geotagged with location of when the notes were taken. Audio recorded on Evernote is automatically in the cloud unlike iPhones.


Dorothy/Lenva - Teacher Dashboard
Individual student logins
Not limited to classes, can include syndicates, specialist groups etc.
Can have access to change students around themselves.
Google sites (e-Portfolios), blogs etc.
Teachers can see all classes but only see folders of own class.
Can have more than one teacher owning a class.
Hover over students for a summary - when last edited, can click directly on the link to be taken to the area that was updated. If using collaborative tools also shows who modified file.
At BBI e-Portfolios are focussed on 6 themes and key competencies.
Teacher can also see unshared files and trashed items.
Widgets can be dragged and dropped to reorder. Students of concern can be at the top, reorder into groups etc.
Few minutes delay depending on bandwidth.
Pt England - Reading, Writing, Maths, Inquiry, Srudent Blogs, Blog Comments, Picasa, Picasa Preview
Draft blog posts also show.
Can filter up tolast 25 comments - who, when
No printer drivers on student laptops
Wiz.com (like Mathletics on speed) - include screenshots of progress go into picasa. Picasa preview shows thumbnails of photos students have uploaded.
Gmail - overview of emails sent and received - can view trash - very big brother
Use NSN/enrolment number (or unique number generated by google) in email so it can take them from preschool, primary and college when it's gifted to the student when they leave.
Administrator can't click on documents unless you are willing to received emails for every document from every student.
Parent access available shortly similar to parent portal.
Documents are automatically shared if created when inside one of the areas eg maths.
Pt England has gone mostly paperless - no stationery bill, school supplies a scrapbook. Parents pay $15 per month for netbooks.
At BBI students can bring own device. PC devices only have access to wireless but Macs do.
Pt England - netbooks only have access to wireless, not school network.
$4 per student per year for teacher dashboard
Can log problems at the bottom of the screen - very fast turnaround.
Blogs are created manually - Dorothy makes one blog with settings, widgets etc. Go into edit html - download and create xml file. After that create individual blogs blank, edit design, upload xml file. Still needs some customisation. Lenva does the same with google sites used as e-Portfolios. Automatically assigns to students when created.
Can upload files simply for storage eg iMovie even though they can't be played.
Dashboard has to be up on the screen at times during the year - so they quietly see that you do monitor what is going on or not happening. Teacher doesn't even need to say anything!
GOYA - get off your ass!
At Pt England - mainly using from Year 5 but younger levels will be next. Plans to make teacher dashboard more image based as time and finance allows. Junior students could just click on their photo!
Parent confidence with supervised email is good. Used for learning purpose. Digital citizenship.




Friday, July 29, 2011

e-Wrapper Cluster Mini Conference

Rachel Boyd was kind enough to ask me to present at her cluster's mini conference held at Everglade School yesterday.

I had a few technical hiccups before my workshop but thanks to Hey Milly I got a Plan B sorted although this meant we both missed Trevor Bond's keynote presentation. My workshop topic was 'Using e-Portfolios to promote student-centred learning' and despite the technical limitations it seemed to go well and I received positive feedback from the participants. The people who attended the workshop were all interested in implementing e-Portfolios into their own schools in the near future and they posed some very pertinent questions about how to get buy-in from teachers, how to manage the workload etc. A few have already made plans to meet with me again to continue the discussion ...


This was the presentation I used at the workshop although I've deleted the student examples due to privacy.


Luckily I managed to catch Trevor's questioning workshop later in the day and my notes are below.
                    

Questioning: Our most important cognitive tool

Trevor Bond

http://ictnz.com

Can join this questioning wiki and contribute to it.


Questioning is the engine house of thinking. De Bono

Two types of questions:

* expressed - to gain info

* unexpressed - the process of thinking

Questioning is our most important intellectual tool. Neil Postman


If this is truce what does this mean for classroom practice?

Questioning is at the heart of:

* engaging meaningfully with text

* understanding what we see

Thinking is when you talk to yourself and your mouth stays shut. De Bono


There is no learning without thinking.

In schools we create and foster an environment that discourages question asking. "When I ask questions my teacher gets angry." Eg frustration, a look, frown, ignored, body language, sigh


Preschoolers ask 50% of questions at home, changes 0.02% at college.

Skills of an effective questioner:

* identify need or problem

* identify the relevant contextual vocabulary

* ask a range of different types of questions

* take them to a variety of appropriate sources

* persist, editing questions as necessary until they acquire the needed information What is a good question?

* relevant

* gets you the information needed

* can be taken to intelligent and non-intelligent sources - eg human vs resources


At this stage Trevor ran out of time so unfortunately we missed out on all the other goodies he had planned to share.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ICT Lead Teacher Workshop

Well this is embarrassing! How did I get out of the habit of regular blogging? It's not as if there's been nothing to share - quite the opposite in fact. Finally today I have run out of excuses!

I only realised today how much I've missed the collegiality of our cluster ICT lead teachers and how motivating it is to be around like-minded teachers. Walking around the classrooms to see what is happening was something we never did enough of during our cluster contract so it was fantastic to have this opportunity today. The teachers and students were very welcoming at Botany Downs School and we saw many cool ideas to take back to our schools. I first visited the school back in 2007 and the shift that has evolved is nothing short of miraculous and I feel very proud to have been a part of the beginning of their journey. I was particularly impressed by how well SOLO Taxonomy is being used across the school and the consistency of the evidence on walls and in plannning - well done Lyndal! Bridget has also been on fire this year leading ICT - not an inconsiderable role conisdering every single class now has their own blog!

Another session today was allocated to sharing good ideas and new innovations in our schools. Elm Park School talked about our upcoming Student Led Conferences which are very new for us, we had a quick play with the new Comic Life 2 and looked at city.lego.com - an online comic creator. I talked about a number of iPad apps I've been enjoying recently (ComicLife, Art Rage, Puppet Pals, Star Walk, Garageband). Other teachers shared sites such as Smile Box, Tagxedo, Poster-street, kerpof.com, picnik.com and http://www.communication4all.co.uk/.

Probably the most value for today has been just talking to the ICT lead teachers, bouncing ideas off each other and commiserating over similar challenges in our different schools (also known as our Dear Abbey session). Just when I was feeling overwhelmed by everything I am now going away more refreshed and determined to make a difference so thank you Eastnet Cluster ICT Lead Teachers!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Exciting News

The Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Program began in 1994, when Apple identified key educators from around the globe who were emerging as leaders in the field of educational technology. Today, after 15 years, this community now consists of over 1,500 educators worldwide who utilise technology to impact how we educate students in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Apple is pleased to welcome Belinda Johnston as one of the 40 newly selected members for the ADE Class of 2011 in Australia and New Zealand. Learn more about this group of innovative educators online at http://www.apple.com/au/education/apple-distinguished-educator/

Thursday, August 19, 2010

iPad and Special Needs

While on a recent trip to California visiting schools I was lucky enough to see a number of 1:1 iPod Touch classrooms. I've had an iPod Touch myself for a few years, and more recently an iPhone, but it wasn't until I saw these devices being used in classrooms that I saw the potential for use with special needs children. In particular I was thinking of my own 10 year old son Harry who has autism who at this stage was not allowed to touch my iPhone!

The timing of my Californian trip was perfect. As soon as I returned I persuaded my husband and started saving for Harry's own iPod Touch in time for his 10th birthday in July. An iPad would have been even better but was out of our price range unfortunately! In preparation for the big day I spent many hours trawling the iTunes Apps store looking for suitable applications to engage Harry in different areas including literacy, numeracy, creativity, images/video, general gaming etc. The big day came and the iPod Touch was a huge hit and we continue to add to his list of apps as his needs and interests change. He's already asking when he can take his iPod to school to use ...

So it was huge interest that I read this post on BlogHer recently. This mother has a son with autism and has seen enormous improvements in his development since he started using an iPad. Many of the apps Shannon mentions are not intended specifically for children with autism but they are certainly autism friendly. The app I found most interesting of all was Stories2Learn. Social stories are widely used by children with autism as they find it easier to learn visually and the stories can help with upcoming events and change in routines such as transitions to school, school trips, holidays etc. When Harry was younger I spent literally hundreds of hours taking photos, inserting into Publisher templates, adding text, printing them out in colour, laminating each page and binding it all together. It was expensive and time consuming. With apps like Stories2Learn social stories become not only free to make but also a much more powerful learning tool as you can add audio (and with other apps video). And instead of just one copy of the book you can have multiple copies at home, at school, in the car or anywhere! Shannon goes on to provide a long list of other applications to assist in just about any area of autism you can think of from scheduling (very important for kids on the spectrum to know what to expect step by step) through to symbols and text-talk apps to help with communication difficulties.

While iPads are obviously not the answer to all the difficulties that come with autism I can see a real potential for their use at home and school. And with the growing number of ASD kids in our schools today this is surely something we need to be incorporating into our strategic plans and budgets?