Social Detective Intermediate was developed SLPs Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke. It is a follow up to Social Detective Beginner, an app I have not reviewed.
The purpose of Social Detective Intermediate is to help students decode the thoughts and emotions of others and then predict what people may say or do in specific social situations. The app is predicated on the idea that one uses specific “Social Detective Tools” (eyes, ears and brain in the app) to help one assess social situations. Once one assesses a social situation, one determines an appropriate reaction. One then is expected to select the appropriate responses (Smart Guesses). The goal is for the student to become more adept socially or, as stated in the app, a better Social Thinker.
There are two components to the app: the Notebook and the Flashlight. According to the app developers, the Notebook is the pretest. According to the developers, “The pretest for the Notebook is to confirm that the student understands the instructions and concepts that they will be using in the program before they actually begin the program.” The student selects an avatar to move through the program. Avatars are saved so that a student can return to where she left off in the next session. Each component is comprised of video clips depicting short interactions between people. I found the video clips to be dated and their quality fair. Alongside the clips are written answer choices.
The SLP and student can see the students scores by tapping on the Scores arrow. Scores are shown for Level 4, Level 5 and All Levels. This confused me since I saw nothing about levels on the information window or during the Notebook and Flashlight series of videos. I questioned the app developers about this. They responded that, “The app was created from the Social Detective CD which has 5 levels. Level 4 is actually the ‘Notebook’ and Level 5 is the ‘Flashlight’ in the app.” I was told that this would be corrected in an update. The Flashlight portion begins once the student has correctly answered all of the questions in the Notebook. The Notebook videos are meant to be the practice sessions for the program.
In the Notebook, comprised of 14 video clips and 42 questions, one needs to drag the correct answer onto the designated spot on the video. Too many times, I found myself dragging the answer onto the spot indicated on the video only to have it jump back to the text side. It happened enough so that my feeling of frustration morphed into annoyance. Another issue: might the student misconstrue this as having selected the wrong answer because it bounced back to original spot? The Flashlight component, composed of 17 videos and 41 questions, did not have this issue since one only had to tap on the correct answer.
Now for the purpose of this app—to help children with their social skills. I was less than enamored. I found that there were times I did not agreed with the emotion presented. For instance, in one clip I would have felt annoyed rather than stressed, the correct answer, but annoyed was not a choice. I also disagreed with some of the replies that were deemed appropriate and correct. For instance, in one video, a girl walks up to a table upon which there are milk choices. One of the milk containers is on the table, close to where the child will pass. Sitting at the table is a cafeteria lady holding up two milk containers. She says, “Chocolate or white?” The child walks past the table and takes the milk closest to her ignoring the cafeteria lady. The woman says, “Hey, come back here! You didn’t pay!” End of clip. It is now the users job to figure out what the cafeteria worker is thinking. Is she thinking: That girl stole the milk, I am giving her this milk, The milk is free today, or Her shirt is cute? The correct answer: The girl stole the milk. In my opinion, thinking that the girl “stole” the milk is harsh and assumptive. Perhaps a better thought and selection could be, The girl needs to pay for the milk. I’ll go tell her. The third frame asks one to make the “smart guess,” or correct assumption about what the cafeteria worker is thinking. The correct answer is, “The girl is breaking the rules on purpose!” But why should that be? Perhaps the child was distracted by something ahead of her and forgot to stop and pay. Perhaps she does not know the rule? It is hard to say from the clip; but I would prefer the adult not immediately “smart guess” that the child purposely chose to break the rules and steal the milk. There is one more thought that I tried to shake and not mention but found myself returning to it; the student “stealing” the milk was a member of a minority group. Here is another example. A woman opens door to boy standing outside. As she opens door and, before she appears on the screen, she says, “Bobby.” It appears as if woman recognizes the boy at door and that she is calling him Bobby. She asks the boy at door if he is there to see somebody. He shakes his head yes. The woman asks if he would like to see Bobby. The boy shakes his head again. The woman invites the boy in. Now the student needs to select the phrase that best identifies what she is thinking. Selections: I am so excited go see you!, I am having an uncomfortable thought, He talks so much, I can understand you easily. If you, like I, guessed, “I am so excited to see you!” you are incorrect. The correct answer is, “I am having an uncomfortable thought.” On the next clip, one needs to decide what the lady is thinking. The correct answer is confused, even though there is nothing in the video to indicate confusion. The final slide asks for one to make the smart guess the lady should make. The correct answer: What is he trying to tell me? This is the answer even though the boy did not say a word. Hmmmm.
You may correctly guess that I am not a fan of this app. There are too many glitches and scenarios that left me wondering if I would feel comfortable using it with one of my students.