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Review: ArtikPix


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ArtikPix is an application to help expressive language learning and, in particular, consonant phonemes in English. It uses images, reinforcement sounds, a game, a data collection system and other functions that together make it an attractive application for children, a useful tool for adults and a complete learning environment from a professional standpoint.

The application includes two activities: flashcards and matching. Both share many common elements, as the cards. There are 840 in total grouped into 3 decks of 7 sets each, which is equivalent to 21 sets of 40 cards each. Each set is associated with a consonant phoneme in English, being available the following 21: th, f, v, ch, sh, k, g, s, z, l, r, s-blends, r-blends, l- blends, p, b, m, n, t, d, j (that is almost all). Each card includes a picture of an object, how to write the corresponding word (or pair of words), its pronunciation in the form of an audio recording (including one of those phonemes) and a short sentence that uses that word.

By default, the application includes only one set of cards, associated with the phoneme “th”, but you can acquire the other later from inside the application by touching a deck still not bought.

Flashcards

When selecting the flashcards activity, the sets of cards of the deck 1 are shown. The user (perhaps a teacher, a speech therapist or the parents) selects one or more sets of cards from one, two or the three decks that he can have at their disposal, and for each of these sets can decide also to use all the cards or only those with the phoneme at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of a word, or even a combination of these three subsets.

Using this mechanism, you can determine with reasonable accuracy which cards are to be used during the activity. You can also decide if the cards will appear randomly or in order, and assign the order of each subset.

Once done all this, you can start the activity: a card appears, showing a picture, how to write it at the bottom and which is the position of the phoneme (like “th”) within the word at the top, and immediately you hear the audio pronunciation of the word or pair of words. You can hear the audio again by touching the picture. From there, you can touch the microphone icon to record your voice one or more times and listen to the recording afterwards. A circular red arrow also lets you view a short sentence constructed using the word or pair of words associated with the picture. Finally, marking the smiling or sad faces that are in the bottom of the screen you can record the result in a format “correct number of times / total number of times”, ie 1 / 1 if done well, 2 / 3 if it has been done well two of three times, and so on.

Therefore, ArtikPix allows you to practice certain phonemes based on seeing pictures and words associated with those phonemes and optionally recording audio so the student can hear himself saying those words and allowing the teacher to enter the results obtained.

By moving the card to the left the following card appears, so you can continue the exercise. You can enter results without saving audio clips, something that can be useful when the student practices along with a teacher or speech therapist who is already capable of assessing his pronunciation, for example.

The results are global, in the sense that they are accumulated over the cards of each subset, so records easily achieve numbers as 25/30, but the application displays always these numbers also as a percentage.

When you no longer want to practice more, you select “Done”, and you see a summary screen of results sorted by phonemes and positions of these phonemes. You can store the results inside the application, send them to the clipboard (to copy them in any iPad application afterwards) or insert them into an e-mail.

Matching

This activity is a variant of the popular memory game with cards, in which a number of cards are shown face down and you have to select them one by one to find pairs, but no more than two unmatched cards are shown face up.

As with the flashcards, the activity begins with the selection of the sets of cards to be used, but you must also select a difficulty level (easy, medium or hard) that determines the number of cards that will appear on the screen (6, 12 or 20).

Once this is done, the cards appear on the screen, face down, and the game begins. By touching a card it turns up showing the picture and playing the associated audio pronunciation, so that the player continues to practice pronunciation while he is enjoying the game. When you match two cards, you hear a reinforcement sound and both cards disappear, and so until you match all the cards.

Meanwhile, at any time you can record and playback your voice and add positive and negative points as in the activity of flashcards, which allows to use the game as a support for an activity of pronunciation practice. When the game finishes, you can also see the overall results, and save, copy to the clipboard or send them via email.

Therefore, this activity is a variant of the flashcard mode that adds more difficulty but also the attractiveness of a game for students, so they enjoy more while playing and thus possibly they will be wiling to practice more.

Data and options

ArtikPix saves the results of each activity by giving a name to each set of results as if it were a filename, so that you save them in the application itself within a folder structure that can be expanded at will. Each “file” is also identified by the date and time of when it was created. This possibility allows the user to keep a history of activities and use the application with several students (for example, by creating a folder for each one).

But the results can also be copied one by one into the clipboard or sent by email, and folders can even be exported as an attachment to an email as a file in CSV format (a data format that can be read in any spreadsheet like Excel or Numbers or database applications like Access or Bento) or directly to a Google spreadsheet.

A gear wheel icon allows you to access to the options screen, where you can disable audio playback when viewing a card or touching it, define if the cards matched are not to be removed to increase the difficulty of the game and other details of the two activities.

Maturity

ArtikPix gives you the feeling of a mature application. It offers two activities, a basic one and another based on a game, includes a very respectable number of cards (840), allows the user to configure various aspects of how it works and has some information within the application complemented by an extensive Web tutorial with many video demonstrations. The same version runs on an iPhone / iPod touch and on an iPad, and the interface is identical in any case.

The application and a first deck of 40 cards are free, allowing you to try ArtikPix at no cost. From there, you can buy cards of a particular phoneme ($2.99 / €2.39), a group of six or seven phonemes ($14.99 or $17.99 / €11.99 or €14.49, depending on the exact number) or the Full version, which includes all the 21 phonemes and costs $49.99 or €39.99. It’s a pity that once bought a phoneme you can not purchase its group or even the Full version.

Is ArtikPix useful for non-English speakers? Without the ability to add new cards and record their pronunciations associated, clearly not, and precisely this ability to add new cards is the main deficiency I find in the application. I would like to have this option, although it were only in the Full version.

ArtikPix is not a specific application for people with autism, but it is useful for any person with difficulties in the articulation of certain phonemes, which of course includes many people with ASD. Logging results by smiling faces and other details, however, make it particularly suitable as a support for structured therapies, and in this sense, overall, I think ArtikPix is an application well designed and with a very professional look and functionality.

-Francesc Sistach

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ArtikPix 1.2.1

Web: http://rinnapps.com/artikpix

Developer: RinnApps

Languages: English.

Functions: cards-based pronunciation practice for 21 English consonant phonemes.

iPhone/iPod touch version: Yes.

iPad version: Yes.

Price: The application and a deck of 40 cards are free, the rest of cards can be purchased by phonemes ($2.99 / €2.39) and groups of 7 phonemes ($14.99 or $17.99 / €11.99 or €14.49, depending on the exact number) or you can buy the Full version, which includes all the 21 phonemes and costs $49.99 or €39.99.

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