* Econ, apps, and eye gaze

Mix Tobii Dynavox, Communicator 5, economics, and the Township app to get… a terrific way to learn while playing!  Playing is indeed one of the best ways for all of us to learn.  Let me explain how a special needs student applies theories of supply and demand, micro and macroeconomics, opportunity cost, and much more while using an eye gaze system and this fun app.

I’ve blogged before about Tobii Dynavox eye gaze technology and the Communicator 5 software that accompanies it.  I also described a cool book, “How to Build Your Own Country, that supports the creative development of nation states, government, and even national anthems.  My student is president, of course, and has named his township after his country.  He uses Communicator 5 to select what actions he wants to perform, from breeding animals to mining for ore.  The image below is the main topic page.  When he looks at each box, the button “reads” the text I’ve added and then takes him to additional pages, where he can make decisions about what crops to plant, which friends to help, and whether to ask the city market dealer for help.  The black box in the upper left links to a rest page for his eyes, while the blue arrows return him systematically to the main menu.

township C5

These images are from the Township Wiki.  

I’ve only encountered a couple of difficulties so far.  For one, my dearest teaching widower does get tired of hearing the Communicator 5 program repeated over and over, as I make sure all the links are correct.  Then there’s the issue of my own addiction to this game!  Finally, my student does love using Mrs. Everson’s bank, but he must first earn the bills and coins (he named them doodads and dubas in his country).  And who supplies Mrs. Everson’s bank?  Shh….  This will be a test of whether my widower still reads my posts!!

* The eyes have it!

Literally.  Eye gaze technology has the capacity to change the lives of kids (and adults) who cannot communicate effectively by speaking or using their hands.  I have been using a couple of low tech, see-through eye gaze charts with one such challenged youngster.  Low tech charts work but can be exhausting for kiddos who are spelling out individual words.  Enter TOBII, an incredible piece of technology which has already been a game-changer for my student.  Tobii is officially called Tobii Dynavox PCEye Go.  It makes the entire (PC) computer accessible.  When combined with software from HelpKidzLearn, you have a winning combination!Tobii 1

The image above is a MacBook Air running WIndows 10.  Just imagine how long it took to make THAT happen.  But it was well worth the effort.  The Tobii device is sitting just below the monitor and captures eye movements after a simple calibration. This Tobii is set to respond to a gaze of 100 milliseconds and it has an enlarged cursor set to move slowly.  Tobii can be adjusted in almost any way you can imagine.  It replaces a mouse and allows my student to use some of the best software around, including First Author by Don Johnston Inc. and Choose It Maker 3 by HelpKidzLearn.

I am SO excited about Tobii and its potential to change my student’s life!  It is totally awesome!