Essential 1:1 SEN apps

Mark Anderson

Mark is an in-demand keynote speaker, former Assistant Headteacher and author of the best-selling 'Perfect ICT Every Lesson' who believes in creativity and innovation in the classroom to empower learners. He is now an independent education consultant/trainer and Independent Thinking Associate. He is also a popular award-winning blogger who has led on some of the earliest and largest 1:1 iPad rollouts in schools in the UK. He is a Pedagoo admin, Google Certified Teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator and Microsoft Certified Educator.

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I’m a firm believer in only using technology for learning when it actually brings something to the learning. When it comes to SEN, technology can transform the opportunities for learning that are available to pupils more than any other way.

I have personally seen the positive effect that having a mobile device can have on pupils. I have taught a pupil with no speech who was able to use their iPad as their communication device. I will also always remember a Year 8 pupil enthusiastically explaining to me how he felt like he could now engage more with his learning, because using Siri enabled him to not let his dyslexia get in the way of his progress. Every child that we work with is different, and so when looking to recommend third party apps to support SEN, it really does depend on each individual. That said, we know that regular use of a 1:1 personal device can be of massive learning benefit to all pupils.

Notability
This app allows you to change background colours, record audio notes and change the size of documents.

Skitch
This free and very handy image annotation tool can be of real benefit to dyslexic students due to its ease of use, clear writing fonts and annotation tools.

Pinterest
This is brilliant for asking students to share their findings on a collaborative board. You can also use the boards there as a guided resource for students to access the information and sites you want during the course of your lesson. As a reflective and sharing practitioner yourself, it’s likely that you would find it useful for finding both ideas for your teaching and classroom and for sharing your ideas back, too.

Explain Everything
For all pupils, feedback is an essential element in the learning toolkit, but one that dyslexic students often have trouble accessing due to its word heavy content. Teachers can annotate pupil work and send it back in video format so that students can start, stop, rewind the video without having to worry about reading all of the formative feedback.

Shadow Puppet / Adobe Voice
These two apps work in a similar way: they simply allow students to explain using their voice images in sequence.

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of apps, and use of mobile technology should be used to modify or redefine rather than substitute or simply augment. That said, what might be a simple feature to pupils without SEN can be transformational to another student with SEN. It is our job as educators in this modern brave new world to give our students the best possible opportunities to explore and extend their learning. Mobile learning using a 1:1 personal device does this.

For some pupils it’s the difference between them being able to effectively communicate with their peers and teachers, and not. For me, if my child had SEN and his school wasn’t supporting his learning with 1:1 technology, it wouldn’t be the school for my child. Would it be good enough for you?

What SEN apps have you used? Let us know below.

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