Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Bottom Line: With the addition of a share community and other interface improvements, the app Ron called "a complete and total game-changer for education on the iPad if you're willing to invest the time" now has the potential to help even those parents and professionals who until version 2.0 never had the time or vision to fully utilize this app.
Editor's note: Ron Engel reviewed STL Pro when it was first released in late 2011 and awarded it the coveted five stars. The full text of his review can be read here. A raise in price and lack of an update cost it half a star. With the recent release of a major update, we've been asked to revisit our review and address the changes made.
If you would like to purchase See.Touch.Learn. Pro ($29.99 iPad only) or try the FREE version with pay as you go in-app purchases, please use these links which support Smart Apps for Kids:
Brain Parade's See.Touch.Learn was one of the first apps I downloaded when I got an iPad for my autistic son's use. When STL Pro had a short-lived now you see it now you don't plummet in price, I snapped it up without hesitation. Unfortunately, it got about as much use as the skinny jeans hanging in the guest room closet. Not because the app is a dud. It's quite amazing actually. It's just that it's not only as Ron said intimidating to review, it's also intimidating to use.
The interface is straightforward enough that an older child could do the programming (Ron's son E was up to the task at age 7) but I've never known where to start. Customization in a spelling app is easy as you just add next week's words. What do you do for an app that has the capability to teach important life skills?
My child needs to learn use of pronouns as he refers to himself in the third person. This sounds easy enough, but since Mobile Education Store hasn't made PronounBuilder, I have no good sense of how to create a lesson to introduce subject, nominative and possessive pronouns. STL Pro would seem to be a good framework for this lesson but hesitancy on where to begin will keep me from ever beginning this particular task. Now however, if I'm lucky, a diligent teacher, BCBA or even a special needs parent will do the work for me and upload their pronoun lesson to STL's share community.
For those not yet acquainted with See. Touch. Learn., much less the improvements added in 2.0, it is a series of picture cards which are used to create multiple choice tests complete with verbal prompts. Some have mistakenly referred to STL as a flash card app but that is but a small part of its usefulness and certainly would not warrant a $29.99 fee. In addition to the photo library, there are pre-made lessons that are highly useful for those improving receptive language and providing a foundation for kids ready to attend school. These lessons can be used to create discrete trials for skills acquisition in autistic or developmentally delayed individuals or any child aged 3-6. If you've wanted to start a home-based Applied Behavior Analysis program, this is one way to make it happen.
The free version of STL comes with six lessons and a basic starter library from which to create simple exercises. For a $3.99 must-have add-on, parents can record their own voice and create custom cards and tests for any topic they choose. Additional libraries covering: letters, action words, shapes and colors, first 100 words, Dolch sight words, money, etc. are available through in-app purchases of $.99-$2.99. The Pro version includes all the Brain Parade libraries and behavior analyst produced lessons as well as access to the new share community.
The Brain Parade community is still in its infancy. There are some regular contributors including Brain Parade's in-house BCBA, and of particular note is the addition of some lessons in Spanish. As an incentive for therapists and teachers to upload their lessons, the developer even put an iPad Mini up for grabs. I haven't yet spotted my all-in-one pronoun program, but I saw lots of great possibilities with the Sesame Street and Brown Bear libraries. An internet connection is required to download from the community, but once loaded the lessons run same as the pre-loaded ones.
The addition of potentially hundreds of new libraries and lessons also spurred a reorganization of the material on the app. Libraries now are grouped in logical categories and lessons are arranged by subject matter as well as skill level. This system helps users hone in on the lessons they most need, but there still is no hierarchy of skills on which to concentrate. IEP goals are a starting point if your child, through the wonders of $100,000 worth of ABA, has mastered sight words and numbers, letters shapes, colors, vehicles and most of the basic libraries included with STL Pro. But where do you go from there. Do you add multiple variables? Size and color?
My most fervent wish for this app is that it included a parent assessment of skills or an ABLLs type framework. Once this assessment was completed, the app would then generate a series of lessons on which to work tailored to the individual's own deficits. There is a maths app that has a pre-test and Toby Playpad has a beginning questionnaire, so the technology does exist. Even a low tech checklist with developmental milestones would be beneficial for special needs parents that don't have an army of Ph. D.'s monitoring their child's progress and those just looking to give their children a jump on the skills they will need for kindergarten.
Speaking of progress, the app does keep track of right and wrong answers for each lesson, but there is no long-term tracking of progress which is disappointing. A top notch ABA program is data driven and most users will require multiple times through each lesson to insure mastery. Also, since generalization is so important in ABA, I do wish a series of lessons could be selected and played in a shuffle mode. This would be a better test of mastery and insure the skills stick when presented in the real world.
With the addition of access to work product from all users, STL Pro 2.0 now offers the best of all worlds. The ability to import images and create custom cards and tests gives DIYers the freedom to create learning opportunities subject only to the limits of their imagination (and a multiple choice test format). Those without the time, conceptual know how or inspiration now have considerably more options and possibilities to put together a developmentally appropriate program for their students both special needs and typical. Sometimes just viewing random lessons will be enough to provide guidance on designing one's own (or at least I hope that is the case).
Often the very best apps that I rate the highest are the ones I am most critical of in my reviews because these are the apps I intend to use, and I want them to be perfect. See. Touch. Learn. is one of those apps, because if you're willing to spend the time to utilize it fully, it renders a lot of other educational apps unnecessary. The $29.99 price for the Pro version is steep as compared to most educational apps, but I spent more than that in gas each week driving my son to his therapy. Try the Free version and if you get the Pro version, please someone upload a pronoun program for me.
Jill Goodman is grateful to Don and everybody at Marcus, Coralwood and Palm Lake for Dean's progress and to app developers that make special needs apps even when it isn't particularly lucrative.
Originally posted on Smart Apps for Kids