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Review: Working4


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Pyramid Educational Consultants is a well-known company in the field of autism for its PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). In fact, for many –for me at first too– PECS was synonymous to communicate by selecting and showing images. One day I discovered that PECS is registered by this company and that is in fact a particular method and not any way of communicating with images. With offices in over 10 countries, and a training and certification program, Pyramid is also one of the few multinationals in the field of autism.

Therefore, the news that Pyramid had launched mobile applications for Android and Apple devices caught my interest. However, the first Pyramid applications are not focused on communication. They are aimed to provide support for educators of people with special needs.

The three applications released by Pyramid (iPraiseU, R + Remind and Working4) are complementary in some ways. All work for Android and iOS, with universal versions for iPad and iPhone in the case of Apple’s operating system. Here I will review Working4, and soon I’ll do the same with the other two.

Token economy
In short, Working4 is a simple application for token economy, with a design that remembers a lot token economies used in special education. Once started, Working4 shows a screen where you can select the number of tokens, which can range from 1 to 5.

After that, another screen appears where you can select one or more reinforcements to be gained by getting the tokens required.

You can choose between 1 and 6 reinforcements from a catalog of 55 potential represented by pictograms and text that are quite clear and covers the usual rewards: food and drink (sweets, cakes, cereals, cheese, potatoes, biscuits, juice, fruit, popcorn, …), toys (candy, balls, bubbles, play clay, puzzles, toys, trains, …), electronics (music, video game system, TV, DVDs, smart phone, earphones, computer) and various other activities (a break, paint, reading, playground, swing, tickle, …).

Each time you select a reinforcement, its white background turns blue. This distinction is generally adequate, but not in three images with not white background. It is not a serious flaw, anyway.

With 55 pictures, Working4 covers very well the typical range of reinforcements. However, the user may add additional reinforcements by importing images from the image library of the device. But this feature has two limitations. First, it resizes any image to make it a perfect square, distorting it and with no option to resize or crop it. This is annoying, but not serious. The second limitation is that these images are not saved in the application. So, if we close Working4 (something that is not so common nowadays, since iOS allows leaves applications in the background by default but does not close them), all added images are lost. That already seems a serious limitation.

Second user
The next screen is designed for the student. It shows the 1 to 6 reinforcements chosen, so that the student can choose one of them (the one that will be used in the token economy).

And finally, you see the token economy screen. You can see the chosen reinforcement and as many white balls and stars as you selected in the first screen. Every time you touch a star, it rises and a white ball disappears.

When you already have all the starts, you can touch the button named “Cash in”. You will hear the typical sound of a cash register, the reinforcement will grow and move, and the stars will move back to its initial position to start a new batch of token economy if you want.

To change the number of token, the potential reinforcements or the chosen reinforcements, you just have to go back one, two or three screens with the “Back” button.

Assessment
Working4 left me with a strange feeling. On the one hand, it is the first app that passes through my hands that is really aimed to replace the typical sequence of tokens -often with velcro- I’ve seen many times on the table in special education sessions. In this sense, I’m happy to see something so adapted to that need, and with a very well thought library of 55 images. To be available for Apple and Android is another important aspect.

On the other hand, its implementation, particularly in its version for iPad, requires a review of graphic design and some more details. On the first screen, the buttons to indicate the number of tokens are tiny (but not on an iPhone), and it is a pity that you cannot select more than five tokens. On the second screen, you will encounter problems I mentioned earlier. And on the fourth screen, the token economy has a design and effects rather poor, giving the sensation that the developers has taken the iPhone screen has been stretched to fill the entire screen space of the iPad. Finally, the first and third screens can only be viewed vertically, the second screen can be seen in horizontal and vertical, and the fourth screen only in horizontal. I have never seen an app that compels you to change the orientation of the device continuously.

If you are looking for a token economy application to put on the table while working with a child, Working4 is, even with these drawbacks, a valid option that fits well with the model followed by many educators and therapists. A version 1.2 with a revised design and some details improved would make it a very recommended app.

-Francesc Sistach

Working4
Links: iTunes
Company: Pyramid Educational Consultants
Languages: English
Functions: Token economy with 55 preloaded reinforcements.
Versions: Universal version for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone; one for Android.
Price: $2.99 / €2.39

 


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