The Kindle and other tablets

 

The first comment I would like to make about the Kindle is that Amazon is not paying for this blog post. I don’t receive any benefit from it, other than this blog is my own opinion. Having gotten that off my chest, I am going to move on the reason for this post. I miss my Kindle.

My husband bought me my first Kindle and I believe it was one of the first devices that Amazon made in the mid -2000s. That Kindle saw me through several long trips and chemotherapy treatments. The best part and the top reason I miss mind was that it had an audio to the story. There was a computer generated voice that the reader could select and it would read the story to the individual. It was great!!! Shortly afterwards the Nook and the other e-readers began to make an appearance, but I stuck with the Kindle.

After a while, and playing around with the device I noticed that I could go online with the e-reader and slowly began using that when I was at the doctor. In addition, I could write on the device and make notes on whatever I read. Wonderful!

The computer generated voice would read the book, documents, notes, almost anything that I asked it to read for me. I have a form of dyslexia so when I received treatment or tired, the reversal of letters and inversion of words would really kick in. As a result, the computer generated voice would read it to me and I could comprehend what the book was about and actually I would finish a book sooner in this manner.

 


A week or so ago a co worker wanted to get a device for his son to use in college. This student has a form of dyslexia as well. I suggested the Kindle for all of the reasons I stated in the above paragraph. However, in today’s world there are more options, more tablets, and more apps that will read the text for the individual. The same options will also write the notes for an individual.

The immersion of various types of e-readers that were taking on the characteristics of tablets began to flood the market. I attended an AECT conference around that time and a few students from the University of Hawaii had completed a study of the tablets that were available for use. Their data was located on a poster board. The conclusion that they arrived at was he same as their hypothesis, which was supported by the data. The answer: all tablets are pretty much the same, with the exception of one feature. That particular feature is unique to that tablet/ereader and depending on how you are going to use the device that is the feature you need to look for in the tablet. That feature will help you decide what device is best suited to your needs.

Consequently, over the last few years, companies have been really selling their devices to schools. There are Kindle schools, Chrome book schools, google schools, iPad schools; in addition, these schools also get breaks from their dealer on apps and other equipment that go along with their devices. It really surprised me at one point because I thought at one time that an iPad with a keyboard was the ultimate device to use in school, especially for children with special needs. Nope, not right!.img_0203

It turns out that the school should decide what they want to achieve with the device. This is where the people who are charge of educational technology come into play. I recently attended a professional development that dealt specifically with this area. So many individual education plans (IEP) include the following as an accommodation “student needs assertive technology to access the general education classroom.” Okay, what exactly does that mean and in another moment of self disclosure, I have written IEPs with those exact words written in the IEP.
At this particular professional development the facilitator stated that at the beginning of the IEP development the case manager should make a list of deficits that the student has that makes it difficult for the student to access the general education curriculum. The list can include the following items:
1. student needs help with writing
2. student has poor spelling
3. student reads 3 levels below the grade level
4. student has poor attention
5. student wears glasses
and on and on.

Now you weed the list down to precisely what you need for the student and how assistive technology can help the student access the general education curriculum. Remember assistive technology does not necessarily mean an device that requires a charger. It can be a piece of paper, a stick, whatever. It is important to determine exactly what the student needs to access the curriculum.

Let’s determine that we think the best form of assistive technology would be a device that would read to the student. The issue with this is where and when would the student be read to, because the noise would irritate the other students in the classroom. In addition, it would single the student out because they need someone to read to them in order to understand the text. Also, there are apps that can read to the student as well. For the sake of argument lets say we agree that a Kindle device would be best and the publisher has a program that fits wonderfully for the device. (Almost as if the program was designed for the device) Now the school needs to buy the device, the program, headphones and guard for the device. This all gets pricey!

Now you understand why it’s important not to just look at the cost, but the need, especially what is you want from the tablet. In my case, I honestly thought I wanted and needed an iPad, specifically a mini iPad. The reason behind this is because it fits well with the other technology I use in my classroom. However on a personal level, I really like the Kindle. It reads to me, it plays my videos really well and I can use some of my writing apps on the Kindle. Finally, I have determined that it is a better fit for me with regards to my blog, I am able to keep my documents all together, my books all together and for the books that don’t fit on the Kindle app I still have my iPad. For me, personally and professionally, it is good for me to have the Kindle, iPad and my smart phone. The smart phone, that is a whole new blog.

When you are looking at a new device; look at what it will be used for, who will use and

specifically what you want the device to do.


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