Friday, October 18, 2013

WHS student Builds ASL Finger-Spelling app to fill an Educational Need

As we continue to dive into our 1:1 iPad implementation at the HS, we find more and more students using the iPad as a creation tool (see last post for more examples). While some students create content ON the iPad, others opt to create content FOR the iPad. And this is where our story begins...

ASL 2 WHS Student practices finger spelling with Michael's app

At the end of his Sophomore year, Michael found that there was no iOS friendly fingerspelling app that truly met the needs of a secondary student  (e.g. vocabulary, speed, age-appropraite graphics and feedback) and/or was reasonable in cost. So what does a High School Computer Science student taking American Sign Language classes do to fill the void? With a little help from fellow WHS students (hand model images from Maddie Bitting for each letter of the alphabet and background graphics from Akash Thaker), Michael went to work over the summer to code his first app using Objective C, ASL Finger-Spelling and released it October 3rd.

ASL Finger-Spelling app by WHS student Michael Bartmess

Rather than using a default batch of dictionary words, Michael's fingerspelling app uses over 5,000 of the most commonly used words. He also has plans to add ASL 1-4 lists of words in an upcoming release or upgrade. The current features of the app are listed below:

-Over 5,000 words built in
-Three adjustable speeds
-Control over the maximum length of words
-Keeps score of number missed and correct
-Replay button
-Easy to use interface

Multiple students currently enrolled in WHS's ASL classes truly appreciated Michael's lend-a-hand approach to filling a need for this resource and note that the app was "the only way we can practice and recognize finger-spelling (short of) standing in front of a mirror" and that the practice the app provides allows them to "catch up with someone that fingerspells really fast."

Mrs. Vinson's ASL classes are even providing valuable user feedback to Michael so he can polish the app for the next update.

WHS ASL class feedback for Michael

Stay tuned for info about future updates to this project. As we progress through this year, we will also continue to reflect upon the changes to classroom, pedagogy, and instruction throughout our 1:1 iPad implementation.

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