Anyone that follows my work, or this blog will be aware that I have been a big fan of AccessApps – the suite of free software that you can download from http://www.eduapps.org and put onto a memory stick, and then give to learners and staff. Something that a lot of people don’t realise is that you can actually edit the appearance of AccessApps, so it is possible to rename programs, hide ones that aren’t likely to be needed, and change the arrangement of the menu structure.
For some learners, there may be only 2 or 3 items on AccessApps that they need, and these could be made more obvious (and the others hidden if necessary) to make it easy for them to find them, as with the full range of options in AccessApps the software itself could present barriers.
Another thing that people often don’t realise is that it is possible to add other software packages to the sticks, so for example if you are giving staff the sticks, and your organisation uses SmartBoards – then you can download version 9.1 of the SmartBoard software that runs off a USB stick, and you could then add this to AccessApps so that it appears in the menu.
I worked on a project recently, where we gave the learners a copy of AccessApps, although we created our own version (by using the MyApps option on the eduapps website) to remove some of the software that we thought that they may not need. We then renamed some of the items (e.g. we renamed RapidSet – to ‘Changing background and font colours’ as this made more sense. We also changed the names of the items within OpenOffice to ‘Wordprocessing, Spreadsheet, PowerPoint alternative’ etc. as this made more sense to the learners.
I have created a short screencast to show how it is possible to add software to the sticks, and then a brief description of how to format the menus.
When you start looking at the folders that come within AccessApps, you will realise that you could create your own ‘launch page’ using Word, PowerPoint, Excel or similar. All you need to do is create the file and save it to the memory stick, then add the names of items that you want to link to, and then hyperlink to the .exe file for each piece of software in turn. With this the learner would open this file to access their software, rather than launching the application (which puts the little blue capital letter in bottom right corner of screen) – the beauty of this is it is then very easy to make the menu much larger, in different colours, or even be based on images rather than text.