Study - Using Tablets in Speech Therapy
One of the most rewarding things about developing mobile applications for speech and language is hearing feedback from the users of our apps. We recently had the pleasure of hearing from a school district in the United States that conducted their own “Tablet Pilot Study” to help determine if purchasing tablets and apps for their Speech-Language Pathologists would be effective.

The following questions were addressed in the study:

1. Is the tablet an effective therapy tool for Speech-Language Pathologists?
2. Does the tablet serve as a sustained motivational tool for the student in Speech Therapy?
3. Does the tablet serve as an accurate and effective administrative tool for the Speech-Language Pathologist?
4. Which Platform is best: iPad (iOS) or Android?

This school district graciously shared the results of their study with us and with their permission we are excited to share their findings with you. We hope this helps you, your school, or district with deciding on whether to incorporate tablets into your therapy setting.

Here are the results of their study taken directly from the documents shared with us:

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Speech-Language Pathology
Tablet Pilot Study Results
April 2014

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TABLET PILOT STUDY

In the spring of 2013, the district approved a tablet pilot program proposed by the Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) Technology Professional Learning Community leaders. In May 2013, 12 iPads and 5 Android tablets were delivered to 17 Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) throughout the district. The third generation iPad was used in this study. The schools chosen for the study were carefully selected to include a variety of participants across grade levels and geographic locations. SLPs participating in the study completed surveys regarding the use of their tablets for therapeutic activities and for case management activities. The purpose of the tablet pilot program was to answer the three questions outlined below regarding the use of tablet technology in the field of school-based Speech-Language Pathology. In addition to these three questions, iPad and Android data were compared in order to determine which tablet is more beneficial to SLPs. Data was collected between August 2013 and January 2014. 67 responses were collected regarding iPads and 12 responses were collected regarding Android tablets.

All of the tablets were preloaded with carefully chosen apps before they were distributed to the SLPs. Criteria for choosing an app was based on: previous experience with tablets, two workshops by Penina Rybak, MA, CCC-SLP entitled “Meet Your iPad: Essentials for the Busy Educator” and “Using iPad Apps for Play Skills, Intervention, & Lesson Plans in Early Childhood Special Education” sponsored by HEALTH EDucation Network, LLC., and recommendations from blogs and other online resources. An app rubric was used to select apps based on the following domains: curriculum connection, authenticity, feedback, differentiation, user friendliness, student motivation, and reporting. Apps loaded onto Android tablets were either the same as their iPad counterparts or similar; some apps available on iPad were not available for Android.

QUESTIONS POSED

1. Is the tablet an effective therapy tool for Speech-Language Pathologists?

After using one of the carefully chosen therapy apps in therapy, SLPs were asked “How effective was this app?” on a scale of 1 (very ineffective) to 10 (very effective). Results were as follows. iPad apps averaged a rating of 8.81 and Android apps averaged a rating of 6.23. iPad apps were 41% more effective than Android apps in the treatment of speech and language disorders. SLPs were also asked “Compared to traditional therapy tools, how effective was the use of this app?” on a scale of 1 (a lot less effective than traditional therapy tools) to 10 (a lot more effective than traditional therapy tools). iPad apps averaged a rating of 8.43 and Android apps averaged a rating of 5.85. iPad apps were 44% more effective than Android apps as compared to traditional therapy materials (e.g. board games, folder games, flash cards).

iPad vs. Android - Speech Therapy

Based on the results of the surveys, tablets are an effective therapy tool and appear to be as or more effective than traditional therapy materials. Anecdotal information from the surveys supports this outcome.

For example, “Articulation Station” is a fun and engaging app for the students that the Speech-Language Pathologist can use to target articulation practice. It can be used to gather baseline data, to provide opportunities to remediate production of a variety of phonemes, and to show progress after therapy. Students are self-motivated to produce the sounds to the best of their abilities.” In addition, the data collected suggests that iPads are a more effective therapy tool than Android tablets.

2. Does the tablet serve as a sustained motivational tool for the student in Speech Therapy?

After using one of the carefully chosen apps in therapy, SLPs were asked “How motivating was this app to your student?” on a scale of 1 (very un-motivating) to 10 (very motivating). iPad apps averaged a rating of 8.90 and Android apps averaged a rating of 6.54. iPad apps were 36% more effective than Android apps in the area of student motivation. SLPs were also asked “Compared to traditional therapy tools, how motivated was your student to participate in therapy activities?” on a scale of 1 (a lot less motivated than traditional therapy tools) to 10 (a lot more motivated than traditional therapy tools). iPad apps averaged a rating of 8.79 and Android apps averaged a rating of 6.69. iPad apps were 63% more effective than Android apps as compared to traditional therapy materials (e.g. board games, folder games, flash cards), and iPad apps were 67% more effective than Android apps in the area of student motivation.

iPad vs. Android - Speech Therapy

Based on the results of the surveys listed above, tablets are an effective way of motivating students to participate in therapy activities. One SLP reported, “Students are motivated to participate while using “My PlayHome” and the Speech-Language Pathologist can easily use it to target a variety of language skills with young children in one setting.” Another SLP stated, “Sequencing with Milo” is highly motivating to a variety of younger students because of the simple display, familiar routines, and auditory praise/feedback for the students. The SLP is able to target a variety of goal areas while keeping the student engaged and learning.” In addition, the data collected suggests that iPads are more motivating to students than Android tablets.

3. Does the tablet serve as an accurate and effective administrative tool for the Speech-Language Pathologist?

The SLPs participating in this trial tablet study were given a separate questionnaire to complete regarding case management apps. Case management involves collecting, analyzing, and reporting data, collaborating with parents, teachers, and other professionals, and other tasks related to completing paperwork. After using one of the carefully chosen therapy or case management apps for case management purposes, SLPs were asked “Was this app successful,” SLPs using iPad apps answered ‘Yes’ 89.66% of the time, while Android apps received a ‘yes’ answer 50% of the time. SLPs were asked “How effective was this app for case management purposes?” on a scale of 1 (very ineffective) to 10 (very effective). iPad apps averaged a rating of 8.38 and Android apps averaged a rating of 5.00. SLPs were also asked “Compared to traditional case management tools, how effective was the use of this app for case management purposes?” on a scale of 1 (a lot less effective than traditional case management tools) to 10 (a lot more effective than traditional case management tools). iPad apps averaged a rating of 8.07 and Android apps averaged a rating of 5.00. iPad apps were 61% more effective than Android apps as compared to traditional case management tools.

iPad vs. Android - Speech Therapy

Based on the results of the surveys, tablets are an effective tool in case management. According to anecdotal report, “The Super Duper Data Tracker” iPad application increases the accuracy and efficiency of speech therapy data collection for a picture of the student’s present level of achievement and functional performance. The professional report and graphing features provide visuals for showing growth and progress following a period of therapeutic intervention to parents and teachers during the school year. The report data is also useful for monthly Medicaid billing as the application calculates percentages of response types for each student’s goal for progress documentation.” In addition, the data collected suggests that iPads are a more effective tablet in the case management process than Android tablets.

WHICH PLATFORM IS BEST – iPad (iOS) or Android?

Comments on the forms indicated the lower scores on the Android apps may be attributed to the different platform. SLPs provided with Android tablets reported using the same or similar app on their personal iPad and would give the app a higher rating on that platform compared to the Android. One participant explained the difference between using her personal iPad and using her school Android in speech therapy. She stated her iPad was more effective than her Android for four reasons. First, the iPad’s battery life was longer and it works more consistently than the Android.

Secondly, iPad apps are optimized for the iPad and function more seamlessly whereas apps on the Android tablet crashed and displayed error messages frequently. Additionally, there is more of a selection of apps for Speech-Language Pathology on the iPad (iOS) platform.

Finally, the iPad in general appeared to be more motivating to her students. Subjective information as well as objective data found in this study both suggest iPads are a better tablet for the field of Speech-Language Pathology.

CONCLUSION

At the conclusion of the tablet pilot study, participants were sent another survey designed to gather information about the tablets overall. Toward the end of the trial, several participants that had been assigned Android tablets opted out of the trial due to their tablets being inconvenient instead of helpful. Additionally, after nearly a year, the Android tablets only held their battery charge for half a school day before needing to be plugged in and recharged. Because of the difficulties with the Androids, this final survey only gathered data for iPads. The responses suggest iPads are effective tools for SLPs in both the treatment and case management of speech and language disorders. See the chart below for a breakdown of data. Participants were asked to rate the iPad on a scale of 1 (a lot less effective than traditional therapy tools) to 10 (a lot more effective than traditional therapy tools).

iPad effectiveness - graph 1

iPad effectiveness - graph 2

An additional benefit of iPads, explored after the trial, was the ability to bill Medicaid at the treatment table either during the session or immediately following it. The SHARS Medicaid billing website quickly loads on the iPad and its formatting allows it to be clearly viewed on the tablet platform. It takes only a minute or two to input the session data, especially when using a Bluetooth keyboard. iPads would aid SLPs in efficiently billing Medicaid in a timely manner.

Data reported above decisively substantiates that tablets are an effective tool for Speech-Language Pathologists.

Moreover, according to both objective and subjective data, iPads clearly outperformed Android tablets in all three areas:

1. Being an effective therapy tool
2. Being an effective motivational tool
3. Being an effective case management tool

Tablet Pilot Study END

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Note: Little Bee Speech had no contact with this school district before or during the study. Articulation Station Pro was purchased directly by the district for the study. The district did not receive any kind of compensation or promotional codes for apps during the study.

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If you’ve been on the fence about integrating tablet technology into your therapy routine, have wondered which tablet to invest in, or have speculated if mobile applications are as effective as traditional therapy materials, we hope the results from this district’s study are insightful to you.

We are grateful to school districts like this one that are willing to share their research with all of us. We are thrilled that Articulation Station Pro (along with the other great apps mentioned) was included in the study, and we agree that speech and language applications on mobile devices are helping us be more efficient and productive with our therapy time.

Articulation Station Pro for iPad

The district who conducted this study was also kind enough to share some of the feedback from their SLPs specifically about using Articulation Station Pro to collect data for their study. We enjoyed reading this feedback and we’re happy to share it with you…

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“Student asked to play ‘my game again’. [I like] not fumbling through pictures when changing sounds. Achieve approximately 40 attempts within one minute.”

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“Quicker than cards and more engaging!”

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“Motivated by playing the game, enjoyed using the device as it was quicker and more efficient than traditional methods. Data tracking was faster, and could get more repetitions per minute.”

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“I have the student(s) drill their sound at the word or sentence level while playing a traditional game such as Jenga. The constant auditory and visual feedback from the check button and the X button are a great way to provide instant feedback, and I even use that feature during conversation to provide quick feedback at the conversational level.”

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“Used in artic group to drill sounds. Easily switches sounds for students when you set up a group session.”

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“I used this APP to target specific sounds as well as language skills in mixed articulation and language groups! Students working on the sound would drill the word and students working on language skills would describe the picture. Love this APP!”

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“Love this app to work on artic and keep track of the data.”

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“Have used at the word and phrase level. Students enjoy recording their productions. Good for drill activity and feedback”

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“Love using the Phonological Processes section! Students are engaged with the matching game. Excellent way to get them to self-monitor using the red/yellow/green buttons.. first with my feedback, then moving to them rating themselves.”

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“For kids who have very limited language I go through the picture flash cards and have them identify the object in the picture. For the students who have a little more language I have them say a phrase or sentence about the picture. If they have enough language I have them play the matching game and identify something a mismatching pair have in common.”

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“A new way besides “go fish” to get a lot of targets in- the matching game!”

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“It has all the normal aspects of an articulation app, but my students are especially enjoying the matching game on the word level and the rotating buttons on the phrase and sentence level. The recording option is always a great one for self-monitoring so I’m glad this app has that too.”

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“During STAAR testing I was not allowed back in my room so I traveled from place to place with my iPad. This app allowed me to carry everything with me, quickly switch back and forth between games, and record the data to be sent through email and retrieved later.”

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“My kids loved the change of setting and the new app!”

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“Use for student’s target sounds. I like how it reads the word, phrase, or sentence when you touch it. The student is able to navigate it well independently.”

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“Used to obtain data on articulation goals for each student in the group. Able to program specific phonemes and /vocalic /r/ types for each student. Each student was recorded and was able to evaluate their accuracy +- or approximation (Close) and recorded data. Loved it!”

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“I use it with my articulation students working on specific sounds at the word and phrase level. I love how it keeps the data for me and I can refer very quickly to the last session completed.”

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