Smarty Ears is one of the SLP-centric app companies out there. Founded by Barbara Fernandes a.k.a. GeekSLP (whom we’ve met in ASHA 2011), Smarty Ears has to date almost 30 apps available in the App Store, apps that may be used for individuals with autism, stuttering, dysphagia, and apps for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) as well as for caseload management. One of their very useful apps is Preposition Remix, and at this point we would like to challenge you to try and search the App Store for apps that concentrate on teaching prepositions. We did, and we found that there were only a few handful that do.
- above, behind, below, beside, between
- closest to, furthest, in, in front of, in the middle
- inside, near, next to, on, on top of
- out, outside, to the left, to the right, under
- toggle on/off the prepositions you’d want to appear
- if you want written cues to appear below the pictures or not
- if you want the prepositions to appear randomly or not
- if you want the app to repeat the question or not
- and how do you want the app to react if an error is made:
- keep going: have it continue to the next preposition
- no response: it won’t buzz nor continue on to the next preposition until a correct answer has been made
- buzz: if an error is made, and will keep doing so until a correct answer has been made
Press the Play button and the lesson starts. The beauty of this app is that
- one has to follow the instructions exactly: if the app said “Touch the hat behind the horse,” one must touch the hat and not the horse, not above the hat, not beside the horse, but the hat itself.
- the voice cue is clear and loud enough to be understood
- no exaggerated stars, clapping sounds or cheers that could restrict the app to younger clients: in other words, the app can be used with older clients, especially adults
- voice response describes and expands the answer made: this indicates that your client made a correct answer and even describes that answer in a longer sentence (“Yes, that brown dog is in the middle.”).
- summary report is presented at the end of the activity: this includes the date of practice, the prepositions the client worked on, and overall accuracy in percent. Scores are presented by preposition, and the report also indicates if written cues and question repetitions were turned off or on.
- optional “therapist upgrade” is available for download: the upgrade allows the therapist to track a client’s progress over time. This upgrade is available for $5.99.
Among the things we noticed as well were:
- data-heavy: 87.1 mb makes for a very hefty app, but one could hardly fault the developers on this: different voice cues and responses account for a lot of megabytes.
- some lag-time after the Play button is tapped until the activity starts: this is only by a couple of seconds or so. It is a hefty app, after all.
- no option to turn off the voiced description at the end of each question: while the description is useful, it does slow the activity at times, especially when the therapist prefers to do the describing him/herself. One obvious way to skip this is to turn the volume down, but nonetheless, the app won’t move to the next item until the voiced description is finished.
- no tweaks for users who do not use English: again, we made good use of the app by toggling the volume to Silent and gave our own instructions to our clients. But since we couldn’t hear the app’s instructions (unless we wore an earphone on one ear) nor could we forward to the next item, we tapped on the pictures for the sake of finishing the item.
- no Next Item button
Preposition Remix remains an indispensable tool in clinical and school settings. We definitely recommend this app as a must-have for your iOS device. We say the same thing to our co-therapists at the center too, since they’ve been borrowing our iPad just to use with their kids.
- following instructions
- auditory memory and processing
- comparing and contrasting