Software for Creating Self-Made Content With Multimedia-Enabled Dot Codes and Gifted School Activities for Students With Disabilities

Software for Creating Self-Made Content With Multimedia-Enabled Dot Codes and Gifted School Activities for Students With Disabilities

Shigeru Ikuta, Akane Yoshida, Ryoichi Ishitobi, Mao Kudo, Megumi Sekine, Satsuki Yamashita, Yusuke Edagawa, Tomomi Edagawa, Shinya Abe
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1400-9.ch010
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Gifted school activities for students with various disabilities were presented with self-made original content created with newly-developed software—Sound Linker, File Linker, GM Authoring Tool, and Gridmark Content Viewer software—that can handle multimedia-enabled dot codes, originally developed by Gridmark, Inc. Each dot codes can link up to four multimedia mediums—such as a movie—in addition to up to four voices/sounds. Touching dot codes with a speaking-pen enables audio files to be replayed, and touching dot codes with a dot-code reader enables multimedia to be replayed on iOS and Windows OS devices. Software and Post-it® sticker icon overlaid with dot codes and a speaking-pen and dot-code reader are distributed for free to school teachers. All the teachers can now create their own self-made original content and can conduct related school activities without buying any costly software and tools. Basic information on (1) creating original teaching materials using the developed software and (2) its use in schools for students with various difficulties is presented in this chapter.
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There are many reasons why students may struggle in the classroom. As educators and parents look for ways to help children, they often find that there are undiscovered learning disabilities that interfere with learning. These disabilities know no cultural or geographical boundaries. The identification of students with special needs may vary, but the overwhelming need for understanding of best educational practices does not change.

In Japan, there are 1,141 separate schools for special needs education; and 143,379 students are enrolled and nearly 84,600 teachers work there. Of these schools, 556 schools serve 93,214 students identified with intellectual disabilities; 121 schools serve 3,339 students identified with physical disabilities; 86 schools serve 4,612 students with hearing impairments; 62 schools serve 1,949 students with visual impairments; 57 schools serve 2,275 students who have health impairments; and 259 schools enroll 37,990 students who have with multiple disabilities (Statistics Japan, 2018).

Although officially, it has been pointed out by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology—Japan (2016) that about 6.5% of all the students at general public-schools have learning difficulties, some of the teachers believe that this is an underestimation. Such teachers sometimes have difficulties in teaching and managing their classes. In most of the general schools, there are special needs education classes; likewise, there are classes for students with language and speech disorders, hearing, speech impediments, articulation disorders (including stuttering), etc.

Each student with a disability has different hopes, needs, and desires; and a unique learning history. Each year, the teachers at special needs schools feel deeply that a wonderful teaching aid and specific materials suitable for one student in the previous class does not fit a new student at all. Each student with a disability may need individualized, self-made teaching aids and materials. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that easier-to-handle and cheaper software and tools might be an indispensable means for schoolteachers to create their own content for each student in their classes.

One of the authors (S. I.), from Otsuma Women’s University, Japan, has been involved in organizing a worldwide collaborative research group to develop original, self-made teaching materials using advanced ICT tools—and, in partnership with the Japanese company Gridmark, Inc., has conducted gifted and talented school activities at both special-needs and general-education schools. Original teaching materials with dot codes and e-books with media overlays (International Digital Publishing Forum, 2011) were created by the authors, who then conducted activities in schools for students with various difficulties. Particularly, the dot code activities developed for use by children with intellectual disabilities, autism, and selective mutism showed that original teaching materials and tools, along with the associated school activities, were very useful both in enriching the students’ understanding of words and phrases and in improving their speaking ability (Ikuta, Endo, Nemoto, Kaiami, & Ezoe, 2013; Ikuta & Kasai, 2014; Ikuta et al., 2015; Ikuta et al., 2017; Ikuta, 2018; Ikuta et al., 2019a; Ikuta et al., 2019b; Ishitobi et al., 2019).

In this chapter, the authors provide useful guidance for teachers to assist them in the creation of focused materials using newly-developed software for multimedia-enabled dot codes; and provide an overview of creative and engaging gifted and talented school activities for students with any number of a variety of disabilities.

The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Otsuma Women’s University. Before the study, the schoolteachers received permission from their principals to conduct the current school-based activities. The study purpose and methods were explained orally; and informed consent was obtained from the students and their parents.

Key Terms in this Chapter

GCV (Gridmark Content Viewer): This software can create content available on iOS devices, such as the iPad and the iPhone. Using a G-Pen Blue pen with Bluetooth functionality, users can replay or display the multimedia files—such as movies, photos, audio files, or web pages—on the screen of an iOS device.

Dot Codes: Invisible dot codes—developed by Gridmark, Inc.—are a novel two-dimensional code technology consisting of extremely small dots. Each Post-it ® sticker icon or dot-code overlaid with a GM Authoring Tool program can be linked to up to four audio files. A maximum of four kinds of multimedia, such as movies, can be also linked to the same icon. A simple touch from a speaking-pen and dot-code reader on the dot codes enables the formation of a link between the paper and the digital content.

Post-it® Sticker Icon: Each “Magical Sheet” has 117 or 130 Post-it ® sticker icons overlaid with dot codes beforehand. The icons can then be peeled off, stuck onto a target object, and then touched with a speaking-pen or dot-code reader.

GM Authoring Tool: This software can overlap the dot codes on users’ own self-designed document at any place, in any size, and in any number. A maximum of four audio and/or other multimedia files can be linked to each unique set of dot codes.

Speaking-Pen: The G-Speak and G-Talk speaking-pens reproduce original voices and sounds simply by touching the Post-it ® sticker icons or overlaid dot codes printed directly onto the paper. These speaking-pens—when connected to Microsoft Windows PCs—can also replay multimedia, such as movies, using a standalone application created using the File Linker program. Up to four multimedia files can be linked to each dot-code icon.

Sound Linker: A software that can create a content for a speaking-pen. A maximum of four audio files can be linked to each Post-it ® sticker icon or dot code overlaid with using the GM Authoring Tool program. Created content is copied into a MicroSD card in a speaking-pen. Touching the icon with a speaking-pen, such as G-Speak and G-Talk, replays the corresponding audio file.

File Linker: This software can create a standalone application on Microsoft Windows OS. A maximum of four multimedia-like movies can be linked to each Post-it ® sticker icon or dot-code overlaid using a GM Authoring Tool. Touching the dot code with a dot-code reader replays the corresponding multimedia on the screen of a PC.

Dot-Code Reader: Multimedia files, such as movies, can be linked to the dot codes overlaid with the GM Authoring Tool and/or Post-it ® sticker icons of the “Magical Sheet.” The linked multimedia is replayed on the screen of an iOS or Microsoft Windows OS device by touching the dot codes with a dot-code reader.

School Activity: School activities at special needs schools can be improved through the use of original, individualized, self-made teaching materials and aids tailored to each student with disabilities.

Self-Made, Original Content: Original, self-made teaching content that is created to address the specific and unique needs of each student and which plays a key role in learning—as each student has different thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires. Independent teaching materials are prepared and used for individuals, especially in preschool and special needs classrooms.

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