Special Needs App of the Day - ConversationBuilderTeen

Special Needs App of the Day - ConversationBuilderTeen

This review is courtesy of Wynsum Arts' Every App Has a Story, the stories behind Wynsum Arts' distinguished apps.

 

“Conversation changes as children grow up, and the changes are subtle. I wanted to create an app that helps teens understand these subtleties.”

  --Kyle Tomson, founder of Mobile Education Store

Wynsum appsConversationBuilderTeen

In October, we published an overview of several speech therapy apps developed by Mobile Education Store.

Building on the success of ConversationBuilder, an app that helps children to improve social skills and pragmatic use of language, Mobile Education Store has released ConversationBuilderTeen.

“At the core, ConversationBuilder for elementary school students and ConversationBuilderTeen are similar. There is the same back and forth conversation, you can record and listen to a whole conversation. Both give users the opportunity to practice and understand how conversation works,” says Kyle Tomson, founder of Mobile Education Store.

“But the teen version has themes that are interesting to teenagers, conversations that actually come up every day,” Tomson says. “Instead of talking about playing on the monkey bars and building sandcastles, the teen version covers teen-centric topics like sports and pop culture.”

Why Did You Create ConversationBuilderTeen?

Kyle Tomson: As children grow up, conversation cues become more and more subtle. I wanted to create an app that helps teens understand these subtleties. So we created an app with themes that are important for teens: clothes, entertainment, school, summer and sports. However, I also included conversations about some of the unpleasant things teens have to deal with, such as relationships, bullying and sarcasm.

I added these topics because I think it is important to give kids the tools they need to deal with tough situations. This app gives kids a chance to practice what to say if someone invites them to smoke, drink, try drugs, shoplift, or text an inappropriate picture of themselves. It suggests one-liners to diffuse situations that may come up, and it helps kids consider how to deal with bullying and peer pressure whether they are the victim or a witness.

ConversationBuilderTeen allows teens to practice what they will say when these types of situations come up and give them some confidence about what they should say and do. This confidence can be the difference between them making the right and wrong choices. Knowing how to handle these situations can also be the difference between high school being a lot of fun and not so much fun.

Parents do have the ability to password protect approximately 30 conversations related to sensitive topics as some of the content may not be appropriate for younger teens, say 12 to 14. There isn’t anything objectionable for older kids 15 to 17 years old.

The app includes more than 300 conversations and more than 4,000 audio clips, including more than 500 audio clips with very specific explanations for “wrong” answers.

How Does ConversationBuilderTeen Work?

Kyle Tomson: The app is designed to teach the natural flow of conversation between two speakers or among people in a small group. The teen version of ConversationBuilder features longer conversations than the elementary school version.

In the two to three player mode, either the user or the app initiates a conversation based on a picture displayed in the app. When it is the user’s turn in the conversation, the app will suggest three possible responses. In the teen version, users can opt to play audio of each of the possible responses. This is important because how you say something can be as important as what you say when sarcasm comes into play.

The user will choose the best response and will record that response. At the end of the conversation, the user can play the full conversation.

Frequently, suggested responses are very similar. For example, in a conversation about looking for a summer job, the user is asked “Have you applied for any jobs yet?” The suggested responses are “Yes;” “I have applied for three jobs;” and “Only a couple of places so far but I’m working on it.”

None of these responses would be inaccurate, but the last one best exemplifies how teens talk. This is how the app teaches the user how to engage in a naturally flowing conversation by avoiding stilted or formal speech patterns.

In group mode, the iPad can be passed from person to person and record an unguided conversation. You may use one of the images inside the app or you may import your own. You may also take a picture on the spot with the iPad or iPhone camera. This works well for group therapy sessions and role-playing guided by parents.

In the version of ConversationBuilder for younger kids, the guided conversations are very much one-on-one, with each person taking a turn. In the teen version, conversations take on a real world dynamic where one speaker may say three things before another speaker takes a turn. This helps users learn to track what is being said and understand when it is appropriate to share a comment.

The ability to record and then listen to themselves have a conversation with their peers is incredibly powerful for students. Not only does this help them visualize and understand the subtleties of conversation, but since they can listen to themselves have a conversation with a peer in real time, with all the wrong answers and re-recordings stripped away, they gain confidence in their ability to initiate and carry on a conversation.

Wynsum Arts’ mission is supported through the purchase of apps from i.AM Search - available in iTunesThat’s how we can do what we do for free!

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