Sunday, October 21, 2012

Should I ATEval2Go Or Should I just say No

A disclaimer: I know the authors of this product. Chris Bugaj is someone that I admire professionally. He is a person that I trust for suggestions. Sean Sweeney from Smarty Ears, I had the pleasure of meeting him last year at ATIA and follow him professionally. Knowing the authors of this app will not bias my review. Because they are friends, my guess is that I maybe too critical. To know me is to love me. :0)

I didn't even know Chris and Sean were working on an AT Evaluation app until I saw something on twitter mentioning it. It is something that is has been needed to assist individuals that are doing assessments. There is not a person working in AT that loves writing reports. And we all know that there are things that repeat. This is a tool that allows you to have those key descriptions of products, strategies and student files right at your finger tips. If you are like me, you have either created macros for this in MS Word or used abbreviation expansion so these are directly in hand and you don’t have to cut and paste from paste reports. But maybe you aren't like me and you are constantly reinventing, cutting and pasting the text. The app allows you to work smarter not harder. Isn't that what we want for our students. Why not for us, writing reports and summaries.

As soon as you open the app it is very clean looking and intuitive to use. First you add a new student or scroll the list to the right to find a client. If you click to add a new client you are presented with a form to fill in. These are the field evaluation, student or teacher name, date of observation, time of assessment, date of birth, id#, grade level, case manager name, school, participants present, type of observation, additional information. The participants' field that is not my favorite.  You move across the field and pressing enter does not allow you to move the line down. If you print directly out of the iPad you get this lovely horizontal list (Case manager : Jane Doe, Parent: Joe Doe, Speech Therapist: Sammy Smith). For professional reports that I have seen it is always presented one person directly under the other left side persons name, right side their role.

File review and background information

This is the tab that you add the reason for referral, target domains and goals and current accommodations, notes on progress and additional information.   

The reason for the evaluation is an open field that you can type the reason for the referral. The goal field is either click from a previous subset of goals or you can create the goals.  It is very easy to do by clicking on the plus, type what you wish to add and click save.

If you are doing a follow-up assessment you are able to create notes of progress. If you are someone that returns weekly or monthly notes of progress is a wonderful tool to have access too. I have been using it to document my students progress on a specific program. I return weekly to check her progress and then introduce her to 2 new keystrokes.  I can then send the report directly the the case manager and teacher so they know what is happening. This is the area that I also record the students perspective of how they are doing and the problems they are having.

I feel this tab is missing two things. What reports and information you have reviewed prior to completing the assessment. When I do an assessment, I review the IEP, Neuro-psychology reports, occupational reports, physical therapy reports, speech therapy reports, monthly student progress reports, if I am the second option I may review the first assistive technology assessment (only after performing my assessment). This information should not be listed under other information. You need to be able to add the type of report, who wrote it, and the year it was completed. This can be specific to outside evaluators, not sure what school staff review prior to evaluation.

The other piece is outcomes instead of goals. I wasn’t sure if this meant goals that are listed in the students IEP that he/she may need technology supports or the goals that the team determine for the AT assessment.

Most people confuse outcomes and goals. The goals are the solitary step to reach the outcome. For example, if you are playing soccer the outcome you wish to have as a team is to win. There will be many goals (no pun intended) to make that happen on offense and defense. For an assistive technology assessment the person performing the assessment would discuss what outcomes the team would like to see happen and then develop the goals to achieve the outcome. For example, the Outcome: would be that the student is able to write a complete paragraph with no spelling errors or grammar errors. The goals would breaking this down into smaller units: The student will write a sentence with no spelling errors 4 out of 5 opportunities. The student will check his grammar on the computer grammar tool independently prior to submitting the paper to the teacher 4 out of 5 opportunities. Remember the goals are stepping stones to the ultimate outcome of INDEPENDENCE.

Under current accommodation you can use the existing tab or add your own. I personally do not like to list generic accommodations in this area. I know this is a difference of opinions but if the student is already using the item why do I need to use professional jargon. I want to list exactly what the name of the tools that the student has access for reading, writing, math or strategies. The tool is already in place, no harm, no foul. It is important not to only list the items the student currently has access too but how often the student uses the tool. Just because it is there doesn't mean the student uses it. 

Observations and assessments

This is where you write your observational notes. I enjoyed using the add media feature in this section, it allowed me to have everything in one spot. You can take a photo, video or just audio. This is something that also has to be used with caution. You have to make sure your camera is only getting the student in question, that your video camera is only pointed to the student you are working with and the audio is only used when the teacher is talking or student is responding unless you are doing a complete classroom observation and you have waivers for all students to be recorded.

Something that school teams will have to do when using this app is determine how the media files will be secured in the student educational folder. Photos are easy, they can be printed but the audio and video files need to be secured as part of the educational file. Wonder how others are managing these types of files? In the past I only shot video when working on mounting, positioning or demonstrating a skill that is newly acquired.

Recommendation strategies and tools tab

This is my favorite part of the app. It gives you the categories reading, communication, vision, composition, math, organization/ learning/studying, computer access, recreation/daily living, hearing and other. It gives generic AT descriptions of the tools. For schools this is wonderful. Schools love generic terms (talking word processor) so they can either use what is on hand. As an outside evaluator I list the features that I found beneficial then name the 2-3 products that were tried and then make the suggestion of what product meets the criteria. My job is to guide the team to the tools that are possible not send them on a scavenger hunt by listing clues to prize.  As with any report that is written, school can accept in whole, reject the report in whole, reject the recommendations or accept the recommendations by picking and choosing. 

You click on the tools you may want to suggest for the team to consider. I have to be honest, I had to look up what Amorphous visual schedules. If I had to look it up, I am guessing the individuals I am writing the report for would also need a dictionary on hand to understand that an Amorphous visual schedule is a non- linear or shapeless visual schedule. Great tool but that word is way to professional jargon. You can add a photo to demonstrate what you are suggesting for the team to try with the student so the team has better understanding of the concept.


Overall I did enjoy using this app for my assessments. It takes some getting used to because if you only have one iPad and the student is using for evaluation, you are left to going old school and writing your notes in later. For me, I don’t carry an iPhone, I am a Droid girl.  I love my Gnotes which allows me to take photos, video, audio and write notes all in one spot. When the student is using the iPad, I use Gnotes and they are automatically saved to my gmail account.

The app gives you a way to record information all in one location when working with the student then supplying the team with initial findings before you finalize the report or when doing an observation you have the ability to email all interested pares about the observation. You do have to have internet access to do this. If not, you can wait until you get to a free wifi spot ( Panera, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts or the public library).

As a report writing tool for me personally I had a difficult time getting adjusted to writing within the structure given. I have developed a format and style over the past 12 years that allows me to write my reports with customization. Years of creating macros and shortcuts. With ATEval2go some tweaking, adding information (still adding) my report writing was cut by a ½ hour for a full report. For observation, I was done by the time I left the session.  I am positive as I add more customized items to the tool the amount of time it takes me will continue to decrease for full reports.

Overall, I like the app for individuals that are working with school level students. It gives you a uniformed format for reports and a fast way to select what tools you are suggesting. You are able to customize the banks quickly so you can add your own wording or special strategy. The tool allows you to capture all the information in one place and share the material with the parties that need the information in a timely manner.

Should I ATEval2Go or I should say No? I am saying Yes, to the App.

This is a tool that I am going to suggest to my Supervisor to approve for use by our team. There are many possibilities that have yet to be explored. 

Below are my suggestion of things that I would like to see added if possible:

  1. That you can hide the delete button. I had a student delete his file by accident or maybe he did it on purpose because you do have to say yes or no. Either way would love the delete button hidden.
  2. Be able to upload the report after you finalized it from the computer back to the device. I would not see the reports on the Eval2GoApp as final as it does not allow company letterhead, or original signature or a way to create a signature. I was able to move it another app, create my signature and save it to that app but couldn’t get it to come back into the app.
  3. Participants present field changes it to a drop down like recommendations check off who was present and allow the person's name to be added. 
  4. Be able to save the report as an RTF Vs a PDF file when it is moved to Dropbox.  Since there are things that I still need to add to the report such as letterhead, adding missing pieces and so forth.
  5.  Would like a way for individuals to be able to secure the individual files with a password. If the iPad is stolen, lost or someone is able to access the device, the confidential information of the student is available.  Not sure about others but HIPPA and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) are one of the reasons I don’t like carrying client information with me no matter how safe one thinks it is.
  6.  The ability to save your name as the author. Why would you have a second line for your qualifications? Typically your qualifications follow your name Jeannette Van Houten, M,Ed, ATP. They don’t typically go directly under your name. I made mine read Jeannette Van Houten, M,Ed, ATP then directly under my job title Assistive technology practitioner and Curriculum Specialist.