Thursday, August 4, 2011

Apps by Mayer-Johnson - I'm disappointed...

I am a very heavy Mayer-Johnson product user.  I have and use Boardmaker Plus on a daily basis in the classroom (and have for years).  I have several other products/devices in my classroom that I use on a regular basis, and I'm a fan of the new Boardmaker Studio (even though I don't have it).  That being said, I'm disappointed in the latest news from Mayer-Johnson.

Mayer-Johnson has announced that they will be releasing 4 new apps for iOS - Mayer-Johnson Apps - PCS Vocabulary Flash Cards, PCS Word Scramble, PCS Vocabulary Memory and PCS Vocabulary Bingo.  These apps use PCS symbols that many students are used to which is a plus for the apps.  They are free, but will have in-app purchases to expand the content.  I'm glad to see Mayer-Johnson developing apps for iOS, but have some misgivings about these.

Mayer-Johnson has been a leader in software for communication for many years.  They are part of Dynavox now and the PCS symbols are included on any number of communication devices, they are even available on some iOS apps like TapSpeak Sequence & TapSpeak Choice.  My misgivings are that these apps are like 80% of the apps already on the App Store.  Personally, if Mayer-Johnson wants to continue to be a leader in Special Education software they need a different approach.

Mayer-Johnson has been pushing the ability to create interactive materials using Boardmaker Plus & now the Boardmaker Studio products.  Instead of creating more drill & practice apps why not create something that turns an iOS device into an interactive way to use Boardmaker materials.  The iPad is the perfect touch screen device to access Boardmaker materials.  Even better integrate the software with RJ Cooper's Bluetooth switch and make it accessible to all students.

I know there are technical difficulties with this suggestion, and it might take some time, but I hope that Mayer-Johnson can regain their place as a leader in Special Education software.


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