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Review: iPraiseU


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I conclude this series of three articles on the new applications of Pyramid Educational Consultants. Two days ago I reviewed Working4, and yesterday I did the same with R+Remind. Today it’s the turn of iPraiseU.

Like the other two applications, iPraiseU is available for iPad/iPhone and for Android devices, and it is conceived as an aid to educators, therapists and parents.

In this case, the functionality of the app is very simple and has a very definite purpose: to give praises after a well-done job. If you’re tired of saying “Good job!”, “‘All right!” and similar phrases, iPraiseU can be useful, as it will offer you a lot of alternatives.

iPraiseU has a single screen. Every time you touch the screen or shake the device, the girl that appears in the center dances a little and a new message of praise appears. The praise is also spoken aloud. There are 100 different messages (in English) and five different natural voices that rotate.

As options, you can activate or not the voice and select to generate new praises by shaking the device or only by touching the screen. iPraiseU works both vertically and horizontally.

Assessment
iPraiseU is a very simple application that can be another tool in our “toolbox” as support for a working session with a person with special needs. You cannot select a subset of messages that should appear, or write new ones or see other visual effects. Globally, it has given me the impression of a being curiosity more than a complete tool.

I sincerely believe that the design of these three applications of Pyramid deserve a review, especially for the iPad. Also, all three could be improved a lot and mature in many aspects. But, at the same time, I appreciate that there are three small utilities but that may be useful for educators and therapists in sessions, especially in the case of ABA-based interventions.

-Francesc Sistach

iPraiseU
Links: iTunes
Company: Pyramid Educational Consultants
Languages: English
Functions: 100 praise messages for reinforcement.
Versions: Universal version for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone; one for Android.
Price: $1.99 / €1.59

 

 


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

 


Review: Chore Pad HD


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ChorePadHD_Logo

In this article we will discuss the main features of Chore Pad in its HD version, designed to take advantage of the big screen of the iPad. Chore Pad is an application that will allow us to apply with the iPad, and in a very comfortable, simple and effective way, the ‘token economy’ technique.

If you have not heard anything about this technique of behavior modification, I would like to simply comment that it has proved very effective in cases of children with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) with or without hyperactivity, Asperger or AAF (Autism High Functioning), among others. In any case, I want to clarify that this is not a specific technique for children with special educational needs who want to work on behavioral aspects, but that it is also widely applied in neurotypical children, with very good results.

The Token Economy Technique is based on establishing a set of objectives, which could be the elimination of one or more disruptive behavior, replacing them for one or more desirable behaviors, considered as desirable behaviors those that are socially accepted.

For the successful achievement of these objectives, a series of prizes or rewards are established and a concrete number of tokens are defined. Those token will be won or lost depending on the behavior of the kid, having each prize or award a total tokens value previously established. Applying this technique, we managed to model the behavior based on the promise of a prize in the medium term, but with the immediate reinforcement of a number of tokens for each desirable behavior, so the kid gets closer to the award.

After this brief introduction to the technique, I’ll try to show the operation of the basic features of the application.

Adding users

The first thing you have to do to use the application is to create a user, giving the name of the kid. This is accomplished by clicking on the icon that refers to the creation of a new user and that appears in the upper left, accompanied by a “+” sign. By touching it you can enter the name and even customize the user with a photo taken from the gallery of your iPad.

To add more children, you simply have to repeat the process as many times as children are going to participate.

ChorePad_1 [640x480]

Adding tasks

Once the users have been added to the application, it’s time to add tasks, which could be, in this case, the desired behaviors. To do that, we have to touch the tasks button.

Clicking this button opens a new window, from which, by clicking on the “+” button in the upper left corner, you can add the objective tasks.

ChorePad_2 [640x480]

To add a task you simply have to decide its name, choose a pictogram of the library that contains the application itself, select the days of the week in which this task will have to be done, select the frequency of this and then assign a value, in tokens, that will be added when the task is correctly done.

Repeating this process you may add as many tasks as you want.

ChorePad_2_1 [640x480]

Assigning tasks to each user

Once created the tasks, it is time to assign one or more of them to each user. This action can be done by clicking on the button “Assign Chores”, which appears in the central part of the new window. The process is as simple as clicking the orange button “Add” and immediately, that task will be assigned to the selected user.

ChorePad_3 [640x480]

Adding prizes

As a last step before having the application ready to apply the technique, you have to add a prize or reward. To accomplish this, you can use the last of the three buttons in the upper left corner. By touching it a window that refers to the management of prizes opens. From there, you can add can add a prize by clicking on the “+” button.

ChorePad_4 [640x480]

To do this we simply write the name of the prize and the number of tokens that will be needed to get it.

And so on, for all the prizes you want to be listed on the application and available to be able to redeem, once the user has obtained the necessary tokens.

ChorePad_4_1 [640x480]

Applying ‘token economy’ with Chore Pad

To do this, you will select the user by clicking on the “Chart” of the user that you want to activate. Once touched, the app will load the work setting, highlighting in yellow the current day of the week.

ChorePad_5 [640x480]

If a task is properly done, to mark it as finished is as simple as clicking on the yellow zone, so it automatically adds to the user’s tokens amount those corresponding to that task.

ChorePad_6 [640x480]

When correctly performed tasks have allow the user to accumulate a sufficient amount of tokens for ‘purchasing’ the prize or reward, the moment that the kid has been expecting has arrived.

This ‘symbolic’ action is accomplished in the application by clicking on the “Payout” button, which displays a menu containing a list of the prizes or rewards previously introduced. To show that a prize can be redeemed because we have enough tokens, the application highlights it with a bright yellow star.

ChorePad_7 [640x480]

Once selected the prize, a confirmation window appears, allowing you to definitively ‘buy’ it by pressing the red button ‘Payout!’ or cancel the operation by pressing ‘Cancel’.

If accepted, the application automatically deduces from the user’s amount of tokens those corresponding to the prize.

ChorePad_8 [640x480]

Multiple configurations

In this analysis, I’ve simply mentioned the most basic features, but the application has several options that make it a versatile and powerful tool.

If you believe that ‘token economy’ could be a useful technique, I invite you to explore all possibilities of the application.

ChorePad_9 [640x480]

Improvement Options

I missed not being able to customize the pictogram that we assign to each new task, because the application only allows you to choose it from the internal library, which I think is a major constraint. Considering that you can customize the user’s image by selecting an image from the photo library of the iPad, I think it would be very useful to customize the pictogram representing each new task added by others images that could be more familiar or appropriate.

On the other hand, the application is in English only, but once known the basic expressions, the application is fully functional without requiring English language skills.

In summary, Chore Pad is a brilliant application, because its developers have been able to move to the iPad a solid technique combined with an intuitive and innovative interface. No doubt, Chore Pad is an excellent tool for many parents.

-Iván

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Chore Pad HD 2.0

Web: http://www.nannek.com/chorepad.html

Company: Nannek

Languages: English

Functions: Tool therapy for application of behavioral techniques

iPhone/iPod touch version: Yes

iPad version: Yes

Price: Lite version is free; full version for iPhone/iPod touch is $2.99 / €2,39 €; full version for iPad is $4.99 / €3.99 €

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Review: iReward


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For people with autism it is common to use mechanisms of rewards for performing certain tasks or show certain behaviors repeatedly, especially as an accompaniment to certain therapies. This system, often known as the “token economy”, usually involves using a series of tokens and a card where you have to attach those tokens with Velcro. When you get all the tokens, you receive a reward or reinforcement.

In brief, iReward is the digital version of token economy for iPhone and iPod. Obviously, it also runs on an iPad by using the compatibility mode that amplifies the screen image.

Functionality

As usual in this type of application, there is an edit mode where access is restricted for defining new goals, which are usually specific behaviors or actions. Each goal has a reward and a related picture, and a number of times (stars) that the desired behavior must occur or that the desired action must to be done in order to get that reward.

As happened in iCommunicate, application also developed by Grembe Apps Inc. and analyzed in this blog, the picture can be selected from the photo album or even from Internet by using the Google image search for Pictures, which is part of the application.

Once you have done all of this, you simply shake the iPhone/iPod/iPad and enter into user mode, in which what you see is the goals list (name and thumbnail picture) and for each one of them, the achieved and total numbers of start, in red if the goal is not completed and in green otherwise.

What the user basically can do if to navigate across the list and select a specific goal in order to see the picture in a larger size and the stars already achieved. In the application options you can define if the tokens must be gold stars, red stars, checkboxes or smiling faces. You can also define a video mode, which uses stars and also displays a funny video showing a cat playing the piano when the goal is accomplished.

To add a star to a goal you have to go back to the edit mode, which requires to reshake the device and enter a password, select the particular goal and touch one or more stars to activate them. By double-clicking you can deactivate all the stars, and by touching an active star you deactivate it again. Everything is very intuitive.

Options and info

The “Settings” tab lets you configure the type of graphic icon (stars, etc.), the use of a password to enter the edit mode, to enable or not an audio message (“You dit it. Great job”) when a goal is finished, and to sort the goals by reward or by behaviour.

As in iCommunicate, the “Info” tab provides basic information about the company and allows the user to access its webpage, Twitter account and Facebook page as well as the iTunes page for the application.

iReward is a simple application that is mastered in minutes. I would like to highlight the option to search pictures online, the locking and unlocking of the editing mode based on shaking the iDevice, and the complete Info tab. Globally, the sensation is that iReward provides a very concrete functionality, but in a very complete way.

The application is only in English, but since the texts of the objectives can be written in any language, iReward can be easily used by people with ASD which use other languages.

-Francesc Sistach

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iReward 1.4

Web: www.grembe.com

Developer: Grembe Apps Inc.

Languages: English.

Functions: Digital token economy.

iPhone/iPod touch version: Yes.

iPad version: No.

Price: 2,39 € / 2,99 $.

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