Presenting iPod touch Sessions: Tips, Tricks, and Tools

Our feature this week is from Eric Sailers, a speech-language pathologist and assistive technology specialist who co-creates mobile apps with Jason Rinn at RinnApps. Eric enjoys sharing his passion of the iPod touch for children with special needs. His apps include Percentally (a data collection tool for educators) and ArtikPix (an articulation app for children with speech sound delays on the iPad). Eric has recently presented at two major conferences on the topic of the iPod touch for students with special needs, which is the focus of this article.

I presented iPod touch sessions at the CUE and CSUN Conferences covering the topic of the iPod touch for students with special needs. In this posting, I’d like to share tips, tricks, and tools from my experience. Presenting the iPod touch at conferences is not just about speaking to an audience for an hour, but also involves giving justice to a device with extraordinary software.

The Preparation Includes:

• Procuring the iPods and downloading appropriate apps
• Creating a concept and outline (mine was specifically on the iPod Touch as a learning tool and the SETT framework)
• Building a slideshow (I used ideas by Carmine Gallo, who has great resources for presenting like Steve Jobs in this video and slideshow)
• Making Slides Look Professional with Keynote on my MacBook Pro 13”
• Rehearsals and feedback from colleagues
• Equipment: projector cable with mini-VGA Adapter, iPevo Point 2 View camera , iHome speakers (for rooms without a sound system), iPod touch Thumbtacks mic , and earphones with microphone *Note: Amazon offers low-cost earphones with microphone.
• Handouts and tutorials to accommodate the room capacities for my sessions (see example).

iPod touch Apps & Accessories

The Presentation

I set up the iPevo Point 2 View camera so the iPod touch had high resolution at a sufficient size. I began by zooming 1.25x with continuous focus, then I switched to single focus after the iPod touch screen was focused. The result was a stable image in focus. The camera image ran in the background, while my Keynote slide show ran full-screen.

Handouts were distributed for the presentation and lab sessions. In the case of labs, the participants also received earphones with microphone, and iPods in exchange for a picture ID. At the end of the labs, the participants returned iPods to retrieve their IDs. My co-presenters helped with distributing iPods, in addition to presenting slides and demoing apps.

During the slide shows, I intermittently hid Keynote to demo apps with the Point 2 View camera, then I returned to Keynote. The trick here is command H to hide Keynote, then run Point 2 View camera in full-screen mode. When completed with the demo, press the esc key, then return to Keynote via command tab.

Prior to demonstrating with the camera, I presented slides comprising screenshots and details regarding the apps. I highlighted standard Apple features that appear in many apps, and features unique to given apps. Additionally, the apps were presented in relation to categories (e.g., communication, organization, reading, etc.) that I determined, so the presentation didn’t appear as a hodgepodge of apps.

Then, using the camera, I showed a couple iPod touch tricks, such as using the search for locating apps, and pushing the home button for accessing the 1st page with settings. I also mentioned more tricks can be learned at Tony Vincent’s Learning in Hand site.

After that, I demonstrated apps that coincided with the categories in my slides (e.g., Proloquo2Go, Percentally, Cat in the Hat). I tried my best to show as many features as possible in 1-3 min. demos per app. Included in the demos were selecting options and settings for apps because those features are often overlooked by users. At the end of the sessions, if they wanted to know about more apps, they could access my list.

As you probably noticed, I spent much more time preparing than presenting. I needed the prep time to carefully think through the details of my sessions. The result was more professional looking and useful information for participants. Plus, it made me feel much more comfortable when speaking. Public speaking has its challenges, but sufficient preparation makes it a whole lot easier. In the end, it enables me to do something I truly enjoy: share with others.

App Friday: Round is a Mooncake

Welcome to App Friday, our weekly link exchange of family-friendly apps. Today we are featuring Round is a Mooncake, a children’s picture book brought to the iPhone and iPod Touch by PicPocket Books. The PicPocket Books Apps range from board book style books to concept books, easy readers, fairy tales and more.

What is the book about?
Round Is A Mooncake, A Book of Shapes, explores the shapes of Asian and universal objects in a young girls’ urban neighborhood. The Mooncake app retains the charm and simplicity of the print version while introducing interactive features on the mobile digital platform. Touch the mouse, cat, crickets, abacus and more to find all the hidden sounds in the app.

Why is it special?
Originally published by Chronicle Books, an independent publisher of distinctive books, Round Is A Mooncake, A Book of Shapes, is a multi-cultural gem of a book. Bright, whimsical art accompanies narrative rhyme and a short glossary adds cultural significance to the objects featured in the book. The author, Roseanne Thong, and the illustrator, Grace Lin (2010 Newbery Honor recipient), have both won numerous awards for their work.

What’s in it for me?
PicPocket Books is offering FREE DOWNLOADS FROM THE APP STORE ON FRIDAY, APRIL 2ND of Round is a Mooncake. This is the perfect time to add a bright new title to your virtual library!

App Friday Link Exchange
Do you have a family-friendly app to share, either a personal favorite or one you developed yourself? Please, post it in the link below! This way, visitors can see a variety of apps for kids and families. Include your name (with app name) in the Link Title, your email, and a URL to the app. Once you submit this in the Simply Linked form, it shows up just like example #1 in the link below. Thank you for your participation!

Kids’ Books on the iPhone

Our feature this week is on PicPocket Books, founded by husband-wife team Lynette and Manuel Mattke who share a passion for children’s literature and technological innovation. Their custom application software brings children’s books to life on the iPhone, with new titles being added on a daily basis. You can browse their virtual library at, or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

We love books. We love the feel, the smell, the sound of the gentle crack of the binding as we open a new book for the first time. Printed books have been treasured and cherished for hundreds of years, and they work just fine. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”… does the simple, straight forward, classic printed book really need updating and improvements?

More and more, literature is being consumed on electronic devices like the Kindle, iPhones, and the soon-to-be-released iPad. How do we, as readers, authors and publishers preserve a love for reading and literature, and encourage more reading, engagement, and exposure to books in the face of these developments?

Kids grow up surrounded by digital media and technology. From a young age, kids are very curious about electronic gadgets. Why not capitalize on that fascination to grab their initial interest? Whether we’re talking print or digital books, reading is an active mental process: something to encourage at every opportunity.

I am, have always been, and expect that I always will be a huge fan of books. I think we are a long way off from digital books actually replacing print books, but I do believe that digital books will become more and more visible and popular as the tech savvy generations accept them as obvious options at home, in schools, libraries, in businesses and on the go. I believe it is important to make quality literature available on electronic devices because the fact is that they will find their way into kids’ hands.

What are some considerations in producing kids’ books for mobile devices? Because of the crucial marriage of text and illustrations in children’s books, the artistic rendering of a book in mobile format is particularly important.

Fidelity to original print version: PicPocket Books places a priority on fidelity to the original picture book. The beauty of many classic and contemporary picture books lies in their simplicity.

Interactivity: PicPocket Books has added some interactive audio hot spots to selected PicPocket Book titles like Oh, Crumps, Peterkin Meets a Star, Monster Trucks, Tractors, Rescue Vehicles, and Round Is A Mooncake.

Animations: The animations in PicPocket Books are subtle, like snow falling or stars twinkling. The intent is to encourage curiosity by adding elements of interactive discovery to some books. We are consciously NOT creating video games, but hope that PicPocket Books can offer a gentle alternative to games for parents who want to offer their children mobile digital books.

Reading a story book on a screen is a very different experience from playing a repetitive video game on the same screen. It has the same educational, mind-opening benefits as reading a traditional print book: it increases vocabulary, improves concentration and focus, and expands horizons. Reading helps children become engaged, rather than passive learners because books demand that kids to use their imagination to paint living mental pictures, rather than having images passively communicated to them through the picture on a television screen.

The technologies that are new to us are very intuitive to kids and will unquestioningly be a significant part of their lives for years to come. It’s important to introduce our children to quality and age-appropriate content on the screen, whether we’re talking mobile digital technology, desktop computers or other media. Above all, digital books should not be viewed as a replacement for the valuable time parents can spend reading to their children, but as educational and culturally valuable alternatives to video games or movies, especially for families on-the-go.

App Friday: iLiveMath Animals of Africa

Welcome to App Friday, our weekly link exchange of family-friendly apps. Today we are featuring iLiveMath Animals of Africa, a collaborative educational math and zoology app for Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad – developed by iHomeEducator.

What is the game about?
The iLiveMath series blends illustrative worldly concepts with math problems, to make math interesting and applicable for kids. Abby (daughter and 6th grade product manager over at iHomeEducator) says that iLiveMath is a new way to do math that combines challenging word problems and cool pictures of African Animals. The levels include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and percentages for 1st through 6th grade math.

Why is it special?
Inspired from a family trip to a safari park after a lively conversation about animals, this app was developed jointly by the Mom, Dad and kids over at iHomeEducator. Abby describes the unique features of the app best here:

This app can also help learn not only math but what groups of animals are called. For example, did you know a group of peacocks is called a “muster”? Or a group of rhinos is called a “Crash of Rhinos”? Sure does sound familiar with the way rhinos act and the way peacocks gather. I didn’t know that until I played with the app. There can be a lot you don’t know about wild life that can be very fun.

What’s in it for me?
The folks at iHomeEducator are offering FREE DOWNLOADS FROM THE APP STORE ON FRIDAY, MARCH 26th of iLiveMath Animals of Africa. It’s Wild – so don’t miss out!

App Friday Link Exchange
Do you have an app to share, either a personal favorite or one you developed yourself? Please, post it in the link below! This way, visitors can see a variety of apps for kids and families. Include your name (with app name) in the Link Title, your email, and a URL to the app. Once you submit this in the Simply Linked form, it shows up just like example #1 in the link below. Thank you for your participation!

How Mobile Applications are Helping Home Educators

Our feature this week is on iHomeEducator, a family run business who creates educational math applications for kids. Their team is comprised of a full-time mom/teacher with 3 kids, a part-time hobby programming dad, and a 6th grade Product Manager. Visit this creative and inspiring family online at, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook.

Given that “kids are able to hold the world in their little hands“, the value proposition for mobile apps in education continues to grow:

Flexibility: Teaching opportunities are not limited to the classroom. Teach anytime and anywhere.

Ease of Use: Touch screen devices empower a much younger audience. Our four year old asks for the iPod Touch all the time.

Feedback: Applications automatically provide feedback and constructive progress scores.

ROI: Teachers and parents are starting to use iPods as a lower cost option to compliment laptops, netbooks, and text books.

Digital Media Learning (DML) also states, “…participatory learning refers to young people’s learning that: is intrinsically motivated because it is connected to their interests and passions; is inherently social in nature because it involves interacting, providing feedback, and sharing with others; and typically occurs during tangible, creative activities, that are open and discovery-based, involve tinkering and play, and are not highly prescriptive.”

Our Story:
Because we wanted to help our 4, 6, and 11 year old appreciate math we developed MathSpinK, 1, 2, and 3 which includes spinning math dials, timers, and counters for counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and inequalities. MathSpin1 uses Chinese and Mayan numbers to spice up the math with culture. We found the spinners allowed more freedom in learning as our children began to pick problems on their own.

When our 11 year old and some of her peers struggled with word problems in exams, we tried to make it fun by developing iLiveMath. The series is based on exciting themes like Animals of Africa, Winter Sports, and Animals of Asia.

  • Each has 3 levels of difficulty for 1st to 6th grade
  • Randomly generates over 1 million word problems from basic math to advanced order of operations, percentages, time, averaging, etc.
  • Photo images are used to build interest and encourage future exploration.
  • For participatory learning and tracking of progress all questions, answers, counts, % correct/incorrect/unanswered can be shared to and/or email.
  • Collaborate with friends and followers using Twitter by tweeting questions

More App Info:
Below is our latest app welcoming in the Year of the Tiger: iLiveMath Animals of Asia, which teaches time concepts including the use of the Chinese Zodiac animals and calculation of differences between years.

iLiveMath Animals of Africa was developed for our children after a trip to Safari West in Sonoma, CA.

iLiveMath Winter Sports was developed as a teaching opportunity during the Winter Games in Vancouver with a twist to make the sports more kid friendly, such as snow ball fighting and snowman building.

In development is a new iLiveMath app using marine life to teach additional concepts for 1st to 6th grade after visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

App Friday: My Little Suitcase

Welcome to App Friday, our weekly link exchange of family-friendly apps. Today we are featuring My Little Suitcase, a kids app created by three parents in Northern California.

What is the game about?
In My Little Suitcase, kids get to choose a trip, pack their stuff, and then head out to the beach, snow, camp or a sleepover. The game, intended for children ages 2 to 6, is centered on a travel theme in hopes of encouraging exploration.

Why is it special?
We like that kids choose which items to pack in their suitcase, giving them a sense of independence for their virtual trip. We also enjoy seeing their curiosity develop when they ‘replay’ a trip with a different set of items. How will the beach scene look now? How will it be the same or different from the last trip I packed? This type of experimentation spurs the ultimate goal, which is to get the kids to imagine their own trips and destinations.

What’s in it for me?
Our team would like to grow this game over time, featuring new items to pack, and new trips to explore. To get your feedback on how to make this the best possible travel game for kids, we are offering FREE DOWNLOADS FROM THE APP STORE ON FRIDAY, MARCH 19th. So go ahead, give it a whirl and let us know what you think.

App Friday Link Exchange
Do you have an app to share, either a personal favorite or one you developed yourself? Please, post it in the link below! This way, visitors can see a variety of apps for kids and families. Include your name (with app name) in the Link Title, your email, and a URL to the app. I’ll go ahead and post the first example of an app we’ve been using a lot lately – Arithmaroo!

10 Ideas for Marketing Your Apps

This post was written by Lorraine Akemann of Keeps Me Smiling, and creator of My Little Suitcase. She is one of the founding members of Moms With Apps, and supports interactive, educational, and non-zombie technology for kids & families. She’s kicking off the launch of this site with a subject that is forefront on her mind…Marketing Your App.

While I am pleased with the progress of My Little Suitcase, I wish I had gone out of the starting gates a little differently. Marketing your app in a store with hundreds of thousands of apps is tricky. If you are thinking of creating your own app, here are some points to consider:

1. QUERY THE EXPERTS. I recently read Crazy Mike’s iPhone App Marketing eBook. For someone who is new to app marketing, I found the book and the case studies insightful and genuine. They share real information on how top apps like Pocket God and Paper Toss cultivated a following. The book also covers topics like effective iTunes store descriptions, email marketing, PR, social media, etc. Required reading for anyone who wants to have a shot at getting noticed on the App Store. In addition, I’ve started following an industry blog from AppsMarketing.Mobi. They feature interviews with developers, and write columns on industry trends. By digging in with experts, you can acquire marketing knowledge in advance of launching your app, which ultimately may result in a more successful app.

2. KNOW THY APP STORE. Whether you are launching on the iTunes App Store, on Blackberry’s App World, or some other Google Android platform, learn how customers search for apps, and how the apps get listed on the store. Try and find out what drives the “What’s Hot List” or “Staff Picks”. Understand how you can be seen amidst 100,000 other apps. What are your categories and how have you listed yourself? You can make changes along the way, so don’t hesitate to run experiments to find out what works.

3. INCLUDE SOME EDUCATIONAL APPEAL. From the perspective of family-friendly apps, if I’m downloading anything for my kids, I want it to be good for them. Highlight the educational value of your app. There is a growing market for kids apps – it’s very hot – but it needs to be good for you too.

4. MAKE IT LOOK PRETTY. Have great graphics. There is too much competition to have crappy graphics. Making it look polished and professional is a minimum requirement.

5. LAUNCH IN ADVANCE. You don’t need the app to be complete before you start your marketing efforts. Build buzz with social media in advance of your launch. Apps like @Arithmaroo and @Tales2Go did an excellent job of this.

6. REVIEWERS ARE YOUR FRIENDS. Read the app review blogs. When it’s time to go live, these folks have the audience you need. Keep track of their posts, submit comments, find them on Twitter, and when it is finally your turn to submit your app, follow their instructions carefully. They are busy people.

7. NETWORK WITH OTHER DEVELOPERS. The most significant benefit of this past quarter has been connecting with other parent iPhone developers. From them, I’ve recognized benchmarks for successful apps and marketing practices. Kudos to our forum here at Moms With Apps.

8. GET PROFESSIONAL WITH YOUR WEB AND SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE. Apps are their own little marketing engines. An appealing springboard icon that can double on your Facebook and Twitter profiles provides an integrated digital portfolio (@MomMaps is a great example). Having this all organized on a homepage with links to your blog, YouTube demos, and customer testimonials is a nice touch.

9. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUTUBE. Video is powerful. Video reviewers are probably more powerful. Getting a handle on this universal channel should be tops in terms of my 2010 priorities.

10. THINK LIKE A GAMER. This is my most recent addition to the list. It’s the gaming industry that has the highest volume sales and top-rated apps. Me, being a stodgy old parent, entered this industry in her slippers. Time to find that leather jacket and innovate some sharp and savvy marketing techniques.

More ideas? Leave a comment. Let’s go make the ranks!