Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mayer-Johnson Announces New Sharing Site

Mayer-Johnson, the makers of Boardmaker, Boardmaker Plus and Boardmaker Speaking Dynamically Pro have announced a new user sharing website to open in 30 days, although you can register now (for free) and get announcements about its development. You can also take a Flash video tour of the site (although I cannot get the tour to load).

Mayer-Johnson has been preparing for this site for some time, interviewing the founder and moderator of the Yahoo Boardmaker Group and designing the website since early June. The sharing section of the current Mayer-Johnson website is extremely under utilized and it is hoped that this new site will attract more users and an active community like those at the Intellitools Activity Exchange and Crick's Learning Grids.

I am sure that Mayer-Johnson has already planned out their new site, but here are some suggestions I would have:

  • keep the "experts" to a minimum because it can be overwhelming to post boards and activities when you feel others may be judging you
  • encourage users to interact with one another, for example the Intellitools Activity Exchange allows users to comment on one anothers uploads but...
  • don't have (or use a positive way to have) users rate activities, the Intellitools Activity Exchange has a way to rate posted activties, but hardly anyone uses it, instead they often suggest ways to improve an activity or mention bugs in the comments so they can be fixed, this is much more in the nature of educators
  • intergrate professional development/software support with exchange area by allowing "experts" to lead a tutorial on an advanced feature with sample boards and activities to really look at how it is done (Yuichi does this really well on the Yahoo Boardmaker List)
  • make the the archives or library of uploads searchable by features such as "scanning for switch users", "low vision", "AAC Board Set", "Printables", "Schedules" as well as grade levels (early intervention through adults as well as Life Skills, ESOL, etc) and features such as "auditory scan", "optimized for touch screen", "optimized for interactive whiteboards" - the Intellitools Activity Exchange does this very well, Learning Grids doesn't which is the primary reason my Classroom Suite software gets a lot more use than my Clicker 5 software
  • allow the search feature to search "free boards only" if you include boards for purchase in the exchange, nothing is more frusterating than needing a free activity for next weeks lesson and getting links to boards for purchase
  • limit advertising, but make sure to announce new products, associations with vendors, etc.
  • consider a section to share Dynavox 3100, Series Four and V board sets
  • and while doing all of this make sure the site is fast!
The most exciting thing about this to me is the possibility of having uploaded boards stay online and available for download indefinately.

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