Monday, July 02, 2007


You'd think I'd have learned.

You'd think I'd know what happens when you get over-involved nerds all in one place.

It goes beyond not pleasing some people.  You can't please anyone.

So why am I browsing  Well...I dunno.

In a few threads, they have been talking about speculated updates to both the iMac and MacBook product lines -- with people thinking that both lines would become touch screen interface (multitouch) a la the iPhone.

As usual, the folks commenting are very polarized.  Some think it's a revolution of computing -- as revolutionary as the mouse was originally.  Some think that a purely touch interface would be tiring to use (it probably would be).

But as someone who has used a touch screen (granted, not exclusively, and not as elegant as multitouch), I can see its uses.

See -- one of the computers in my class was donated by the Amanda McPherson Foundation and has a touch screen.  It's been invaluable for one of my students, who does not understand how to use a mouse -- nor does she have the fine motor capability to do so.

Having a touch screen enables her to interact directly with the computer.  It allows me to make activities for her with ChooseIt Maker 2 to practice classroom vocabulary words and other receptive vocabulary.  Without a touch screen, she would also have to understand how to use a single switch in scanning mode.

Having a touch screen also allows me to use SwitchIt Maker 2 to adapt the books we read in class (which are already adapted, but that's a story for another day) into cause and effect computer games for her, so that she can be involved in what we do.

With a touch screen, she can make choices in Switching On American History and learn important computer skills (choosing a picture), as well as participate in age-appropriate general education curriculum (she's entering 5th grade next year).

With a touch screen, she can use Teach Me to Talk to practice her expressive vocabulary in a low-stress environment, where speech seems to come easiest to her.

Now, I realize this I'm talking about a niche market here.  The student I'm describing has significant cognitive challenges due to Down syndrome.  It's my gut feeling that she also has autism.  She has very little verbal communication (though, boy, is she an effective communicator!) and challenges with eye-hand coordination (except when she's throwing masking tape at me) and fine motor skills.

But as far as I'm concerned, the more common touch screens become, the more accessible computers will become as well.

(And, I have to admit, when I'm setting something up on the computer that E. uses, I often eschew the mouse and use the touch screen myself.  Not exclusively, certainly -- especially when precision and/or multiple clicks are involved -- but it's convenient and easy.)

And, boy, did that turn into a book that I didn't intend to write.  Hm.

(By the way, there's a green dot next to the Simi Apple store.....)

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