Wednesday, December 19, 2012

App Review: Go-Togethers by Smarty Ears

The good folks at Smarty Ears have offered me another one of their fabulous apps to review for your today. Go-Togethers targets the ability to identify and describe semantic relationships between objects. Here's the run-down.  When you open the app,  you are taken to this menu screen:


From here, you can notify the developers via email of issues you may be having ("Go-Togethers Support").  You can also view a synopsis of the app by tapping "About Go-Togethers" (see below for screenshot) or view other apps that are offered by Smarty Ears ("More Apps").  Another option in the menu screen is to watch a "Video Tutorial" narrated by the Speech Techie himself, Sean Sweeney.  Although this app is not difficult to use, when an app offers a Video Tutorial, I always recommend that you watch it!


From the Menu screen, you can enter the "Settings Room" (see screenshot below).  This is where you will set up your game play.   There are 4 settings that you can control:  Levels, Activity, Correct Items per Screen, and When Wrong.




Levels:

Go-Togethers offers two levels of vocabulary. As you can imagine, the first is more basic:




And the second is more complex:


You can select as many of the categories as you wish.

Activity:

Here you can chose to target receptive identification of associations, expressive labeling of associations, or a mix of both.  If you chose to target both receptive and expressive, you will begin with a receptive task:


which will be followed immediately by an expressive task with the same stimulus:


Correct Items Per Screen:

You can choose to have one, two, or three correct items per screen:

one correct item/screen
two correct items/screen

three correct items/screen

With each option, there will be only one incorrect item per screen.

When Wrong:

Here you have three options:  Keep Going (there is no reinforcement of the child's response); Remove Item (the incorrect response is removed from the screen); and Buzz (a noise is played to indicate an incorrect response).

Playing the Game: 



From the receptive screen, the student is given a question (e.g., "What goes with ___?").  They are shown a picture of the main stimulus, along with a number of responses (determined by the number of correct responses you chose in settings).  The responses are connected to the stimulus by dotted lines (see above).  To select a response, the student can either tap the stimulus picture and drag their finger to the target response, physically drawing the line (and making the connection) between the two, or simply tap the target response.  Notice that, once you select a correct response, the dotted line changes to a green line:




Once you have selected your response(s), the app does not automatically move along to the next item.  This allows you to discuss the responses with the student(s), brainstorm additional responses not illustrated, and/or discuss the incorrect response.

From the expressive screen, students are simply shown the main stimulus and asked the same question.  There are graphics resembling post-it notes:



You can tap the "I said WHAT" button each time a child comes up with a correct semantic relationship.  As a bonus, you can ask that the child describe why the two items go together.  Tap the "I said WHY" button to tally those responses. Correct responses for "I said WHAT" are listed in the Results Summary, but responses to "I said WHY" are not.  It is explained in the Video Tutorial that WHY responses are not tallied because asking the question is not always appropriate, particularly when targeting "concepts."


Notice the "E-Mail" button on the Results screen above?  You can email a summary report of your session to yourself.  Great for data collection!


So that's Go-Togethers in a nutshell.  Here's what I think:

What I like:
  • The settings.  You can make this app fairly simple or more difficult.  Because of this, you can use it with a variety of age and ability levels.
  • Different response selection methods.  I love the fact that you can visualize drawing a line to connect your response with the stimulus.  However, I have a few kids who have difficulty making swiping movements on the iPad (they tend to move from fingertip to fingernail).  Tapping is an easier input method for these kids.
  • Different options for incorrect responses.  We all have the kids who purposely select an incorrect response so they can hear the buzzer, right?  
  • Data collection!  Need I say more?
  • Manual transition between items.  I love that the app allows you to pause and discuss the items/responses before moving on to the next.  

Things I would change in an update:
  • There isn't an option to add multiple player profiles.  This makes the data collection feature difficult to use in group therapy sessions.
  • Some of the images for responses include the picture of the stimulus.  Because of this, a correct response can be pretty obvious.  For example, the picture of "trunk" contains an elephant:


  • Let's say you select using multiple correct responses (like the "elephant" example above) and the student only gives you one correct response ("trunk" for example).  When you move along to the next item, it will mark the student's one response as correct, but will not mark the two responses the student missed ("peanuts," "circus") as incorrect or omitted.  I would love to see an "omitted" tally in the results summary.
  • When tallying the expressive component, you are not given an option to mark incorrect responses.  When I used the app in a recent therapy session, I had a student give me a response that was blatantly  incorrect, but that was not reflected in the within-app data collection.
The Bottom Line:
  • Smarty Ears has another winner with Go-Togethers! Although there are some minor changes I would like to see, overall this is a great app for targeting semantic relationships.  You could also use this app for a variety of other objectives as well, including categorization, wh-questions, sentence formulation, attributes, etc.  Go-Togethers is also one of the more affordable speech-language specific apps at $9.99 in the App Store.  


Have you used Go-Togethers?  What do you think?
Disclaimer:  Although the kind folks at Smarty Ears were kind enough to offer me a code of Go-Togethers to review, the opinions expressed in this review are mine alone.

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