Choosing the right apps for cognitive success

As educators, we need to review and promote apps that strengthen cognition, especially for memory-afflicted students

promoting-right-rememberWhen Alice woke up, and realized she didn’t really fall into a rabbit hole, she convinced herself that it was only a bad dream about a strange place with lots of curious things.

She didn’t quite remember what happened the day before at all and perhaps it was because she wasn’t fully aware of the event that caused her memory loss. This might sound somewhat like the beginning of the well-known story “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”; however, this is a different Alice and a very different story.

The example above, partially explained begins one day in the regular day life of a ten year old girl named, Alice, and what happened to her one summer afternoon. Typically, every summer she visits her grandmother’s farm, and on the day of her visit, the neighborhood kids were all riding their bicycles and challenging each other to fun, dirt road races.

Unknowingly, she had taken a path over some unknown rocky terrain, which was a washboard, where she hit rocks and catapulted off her bicycle, landing on her head. Not realizing at the time, she had suffered a minor concussion, got back onto the bike and rode quickly back to her grandmother’s house complaining of a head ache.

It wasn’t until the second week of school was when she actually began having difficulty with concentration and consequently her school work was not being completed as accurately as reflected in her last, successful school year’s record and she was becoming more forgetful and complaining of frequent headaches. Alice’s teacher observed her educational and behavioral challenges, and recommended a possible evaluation and meeting.

(Next page: Using apps for cognition training and memory help)

Research Fact

Today, there is an increasing amount of interest, attention, and research in brain imaging and visual evidence of brain injury especially attributed to sports injury- football, motor sports -ATVs, and bicycling. In The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers found a 92 percent increase in pediatric visits to their hospital emergency room for sports-related traumatic brain injury from 2002 to 2011, and more recent research focusing on head injuries.

Educators play an important role in student’s who have sustained a brain injury

As educators, we know the mind is a wonderful thing, yet when the mind suffers a cognitive impairment, for whatever reason, living and learning might likely need medical attention, and careful educational consideration and planning. The advantages of modern educational technology are numerous, currently being represented as apps mainly on every widely used technology operating system platforms.

In fact, the Stem Reports an increasing interest of tablet in education in the United States with a high adoption in school systems this fall. “In the 2012 National Survey on Mobile Technology for K-12 Education, 54 percent had adopted mobile technology in 25 percent or more schools. Today, the 2014 survey shows that the large majority of respondents (71 percent) have adopted.”

The current trend of mobile app adoption has potential benefits in teaching and learning for students with cognitive impairment, like brain injury. Here’s how; some apps have the potential to help with memory and cognitive skills. Apps for students with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) include a well-respected application which is now in app form, named Dragon Dictation. Dragon has been available for many years, mainly in the medical and legal professions, however, in education, it is also known as one of the best voice recognition programs that allow students to speak and instantly see the words on the computer.

“Features include, voice-to-text transcriptions that may be sent as SMS, email, or pasted into any application using the clipboard. Convenient editing feature that provides a list of suggested words.” In addition, three associated apps, Dragon Mobile Assistant, and Dragon Go! and Dragon Dictation, have been integrated with social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, and all at no additional cost for IOS mobile devices.

In addition, Facebook has an official page and provides daily tips for using the software.  On that note, the desktop version of Dragon Naturally Speaking, by Nuance, is often an available application for students with disabilities students in higher education. Additional resources links below include 45 apps recommended for students with TBI.

It is because of modern technology advances that often teachers and stakeholders in educational settings, can focus more clearly on defining the need to closely review and plan accordingly including, choosing apps judiciously, for students with cognitive impairments.  As educators, we need to review and promote apps that provide learning opportunities, which are important and relevant to the provision of cognitive-behavioral interventions that help students to remember.


And for the rest of Alice’s school story, she has been successfully using a tablet device with apps specifically researched and chosen to help with cognitive tasks as recommended in her IEP/IDEA. And as for the well-recognized Alice, from the “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” although she apparently did fall down the rabbit’s hole, seemingly uninjured, remains remembered as one of the most memorable characters from the 1865 fictional story written by Lewis and Carroll.

Special Note:

Often  university Offices of Services for Students with Disabilities provide the Dragon software  as a resource and  access is also provided at many academic university libraries like Fairfield University DiMenna-Nyselius Library, University of Bridgeport, UCONN, Southern Connecticut State University and the University of New Haven,  just to name a few. Connecticut’s Law Public Act No.14-66 An Act Concerning Student Athletes and Concussions, passed in the 2014 legislative session and goes into effect July 1, 2015.

Journal Articles and Resource Articles

Journal of Pediatrics:

Roxann Riskin is a technology specialist/supervisor at Fairfield UniversityFollow her on Twitter @roxannriskin.