Book Creator and SEN
By Nick Acton
90% of all children with Special Educational Needs in the UK are in mainstream Education according to the SEN Code of Practice. In other words, the large majority of children with special needs are not in specialist schools. Therefore, every teacher needs to be equipped with the knowledge and appropriate tools to cater for this. Of course, the large umbrella term, ‘Special Educational Needs’ encompasses a huge number of complex and specific needs. Flexible and multiple accessibility options are therefore a must when it comes to utilising apps within the field of SEN.
Of course, there are many specific SEN applications on the app store. However, many children can benefit more from using less specific education apps. Ultimately, many SEN specific apps help with day-to-day tasks of communicating or decreasing irritation. They do not do a lot when it comes to general teaching and learning. Clearly, this is a problem for a teacher in a mainstream school. Most teachers wish to offer the same learning opportunities to all of their children. The key is to understand how the use of certain apps can be adapted appropriately according to needs. Thankfully, apps like Book Creator offer layers of accessibility. In this blog, I am going to explain how the basic features of Book Creator can cater for a large number of needs. First and foremost, Book Creator is an app that enables children to create books. The iPad’s multi-media functionality is directly built in to the app. You can add all sorts of engaging and accessible ‘items’ that utilise the iPad’s camera, photos app, touch screen, word processors and microphone. I am going to through each ‘item’ and highlight the implications they have within SEN.
The sound clips can also be used to great effect when it comes to using them alongside writing. Many children find it difficult to remember a sentence that they have thought of. They may get halfway through and forget where they are going. Being able to record ideas first means that children can create a reminder and use it with ease.
All of the features I have highlighted are very flexible. One or a combination of the features can be engaged within a number of different ways. In a typical mainstream classroom, there are a variety of needs and learning preferences. Book Creator can do a lot to bend and twist until it fits each individual need. On top of the features, the app itself is attractive and easy to use. Stylistically, it is quite minimalist. It’s not an adult or a childish looking app and so it should appeal to anyone. Therefore, older students can benefit from the app without feeling like they are engaging with a tool that is below them. What's more, the minimalist look limits the distractions on the screen. This means that easily distracted children are able to focus on the task at hand without flashy graphics or adverts getting in the way. Combining the features of Book Creator with the wider accessibility functions within the iPad’s settings makes the experience even more inclusive. SEN is a complex and daunting aspect of day-to-day teaching for many. Let Book Creator become another tool in your SEN tool belt.
Nick Acton is an Apple Curriculum Specialist at JTRS as well as being a part-time Computing and Music teacher. Through the creation of bespoke training, Nick specialises in empowering educators so they can embed Apple technologies into their day-to-day classroom practice.