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Is a C-Pen right for my child?

What is a C-Pen Reader?

The C-Pen Reader pen scanner is a major technological breakthrough for anyone learning English or Spanish and is a life-saver for those who suffer from reading difficulties such as dyslexia. The C-Pen Reader is a totally portable, pocket-sized device that reads text out aloud with an English or Spanish human-like digital voice.

It’s a small, handheld device a similar size to a highlighter pen which:

  • runs on a rechargeable battery
  • doesn’t need internet to work
  • needs headphones to be used effectively
  • is unobtrusive in most settings
  • scans and reads text aloud immediately
  • can store scanned text
  • can give definitions of scanned words
  • can record voice notes
  • plugs into your computer with a USB connection to download scans and recordings

Who could a C-Pen be useful for?

The C-Pen reader is not much bigger than a highlighter
  • Children over about 8 years old and adults with a reading difficulty such as dyslexia who need to read printed material
  • People with low vision who need to read printed material
  • People with a cognitive disability who need to read printed material

Who is a C-Pen not recommended for?

C-Pen is not suitable for individuals who are not able to smoothly highlight a line of text because of vision or motor issues or because they have not yet reached that level of fine motor skill development.

Will my child be allowed to take a C-Pen reader to school?

It depends on the school’s attitude to the use of assistive technology but many children do take them to school and find that they are a useful, unobtrusive support which doesn’t disturb the rest of the class and doesn’t require the teacher to assist the child with reading information and instructions as much as may be the case without the C-Pen.

Will my child be allowed to use a C-Pen in an exam?

Almost certainly not but you may have a case for your child to be allowed to use an Exam Reader which looks similar to a C-Pen but has only one function: to scan and read text aloud. This provides support in understanding the questions in an exam without the possibility of accusations of cheating.

The only function of the Exam Reader is to scan text and read it aloud

Where can I get a C-Pen?

C-Pen Readers and Exam Readers are available in our online store.  The $390 cost includes postage and it will be shipped to you.  Sets of 10 are also available for schools or tutoring centres to purchase. Please email education@macandpcdoctors.com.au for more details.

Can I get a C-Pen using NDIS funds?

It depends on what has been approved in your plan.  The NDIS does not cover anything education related but may cover items which support daily living and independence.  A C-Pen could fall into the category of low cost and low risk assistive technology items (Level 1).  Items of this nature do not need a form to be sent into the NDIS. Participants with AT funded supports in their plan can seek advice and buy it themselves.

The Daily Adaptive Equipment (03_131_0103_1_1) line item under a participant’s CORE budget (Consumables support category) would be where you would claim these expenses. (Information from https://www.ndis.gov.au/providers/assistive-technology-faqs.html)

If you would like to purchase a C-Pen reader from us using NDIS funds, please make a request via the NDIS portal or email accessibility@macandpcdoctors.com.au to discuss first.

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Bring your own technology to school. Is it really a bad idea?

The Courier Mail yesterday ran an article about the scrapping of the Digital Education Revolution (DER) funding. The article stated that an outcome of this change might be that students would have to bring their own laptops to school. The Education Minister, John-Paul Langbroek, called it a return to the “digital dark age”.

But is it the terrible idea the article makes it out to be?

Schools currently spend huge amounts of money on technology devices and infrastructure in addition to the DER money received. Ongoing maintenance of networks and devices is required.

In recent years some schools have voluntarily adopted a BYOT (Bring your own technology) policy. It’s also sometimes referred to as BYOD (Bring your own device).

Teenagers are big users of technology and many parents already willingly invest in technology which will help their children’s learning. Many students already own a portable device.

Advantages of BYOT are:
• being able to choose a device that suits the needs of the individual child
• greater parent involvement in the choice of the device and their child’s learning
• removal of maintenance and updating costs from school budgets
• easy access to learning materials when students are not on the school campus

There are certainly issues that need to be addressed:
• While some laptops currently cost as little as $500 and some tablet devices less than $200, this is still out of reach for some families
• Security of data and devices needs to be carefully thought out and planned for
• Quality infrastructure needs to be provided as well as technical support for students and teachers
• Schools’ fears of losing control over students’ technology use

Most importantly, schools need to think through the implications for teaching and learning and work on developing a culture of trust within their community.Some commentators believe that BYOT is inevitable, so why not embrace it, plan for it and reap the advantages it can offer?

© Jacqui Kirkman 2013

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What’s a digital native and is my child one?

“Digital Native” is a term that was to describe those born into a digital world. The term was coined by Marc Prensky in his 2001 article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Other writers use different terminology so you may also read about the “Digital Generation” which Don Tapscott in his books Growing Up Digital and Grown Up Digital defines as anyone born between 1977 and 1997. Other writers such as Diana Oblinger and James Oblinger in the book they edited in 2005, Educating the Net Generation, refer to those born before 1991 as “Millennials” and after 1991 as the “Net Generation”.

Prensky and Tapscott claim that today’s young people been “bathed in bits” since birth and that therefore their brains have developed differently from previous generations who were not exposed to digital technology at a young age.

Some of the claims made about digital natives are:
• they can multi-task, switching with ease between different websites, programs, social media etc.
• their brains are differently wired so they are faster and more efficient at using technology
• they know more about technology than their teachers and parents who are wasting their time trying to teach them anything about technology
• they are bored by anything that is not technology-rich (in school or out of school)

Writers like Prensky argue that schools need to radically change their teaching attitudes and practices in order to engage these students and schools certainly have heavily invested in technology over the last few decades. Parents often feel unsure how much access to technology to allow their children, not wanting to disadvantage them academically or socially but also wanting to protect them from harm and wanting them to lead a balanced life.

Over the next few weeks we’ll try to separate the fact from the fiction in the whole Digital Native story and look at what sort of technology children can benefit from and what is better left alone.

© Jacqui Kirkman 2013