Essential Question: What assistive or adaptive tools could be helpful as I create my online courses?
I have firsthand experience at assistive technology. When I was a tech for the Anchorage School district we setup laptop for physically challenged students. We had to find programs for students with disabilities such as being blind, deaf, and have limited use of hands.
I loved reading the article from McCrea about Robin Lowell’s classroom. What wonderful tools we have these days for assistive technology. Lowell’s use for the Flipped classroom strategy was genius. Her students are fully engaged and learning at their own pace.
Lowell’s 11 students use a standard keyboard, a Braille display, and Perky Duck, a six-key Braille emulator program, to input questions and answers that teachers read and respond to on screen…She uses SharePoint to record, upload, and share lectures, and is able to arrange all of her students’ desktops on a monitor screen and provide instant feedback on their work (McCrea, 2013).
My daughter and I have dyslexia. She was attending a private school for a few short months when realized that the school did not have the staff to help Charlize with her studies. Public schools often have the access to educational software, support systems, and even staff that private school cannot offer:
“…the cost of teaching disabled students has more and more often fell on the already-stretched budgets of public schools…We welcome our students with special needs, but the most expensive programming is on public districts. This means that many schools may not be able to afford the kinds of special tools and equipment that may be needed.” (TeachThoughtStaff, 2013).
So we changed schools for my daughter and her grades rose to high Bs and even As again. We have kept her in a public school ever since.
I also worked on Fort Richardson for a short while before ASD, where we setup desktops for wounded soldiers in the education center in 2006. The technology at that time was impressive even in its infancy. I saw the vision magnifiers, speech to text (Dragon), and the little birdy mouse controllers. I remember thinking there is a whole other world to assistive technology industry that I had not been exposed to.
For my classroom, I will focus on early grades and what their needs might be. For my Charlize, she really needed programs like Lexia and Razkids to help with her reading. Word Prediction would be helpful to students with dylexia, she often struggles with finding the right word to use. I found FaceMouse to be a wonderful technology as well for students with limited mobility. I would use the Media and Technology selection procedures that our textbook references to select the right tools for my age group.
The ACTIONS method is used for making decisions on which technology to use (Moore and Kearsely, 2012, p.90):
ACCESS > where all students learn: at home, or work or local center
COSTS > what are capital and recurrent: fixed and variable?
TEACHING Functions > what are presentational requirements of the subject? Required teaching and learning approaches?
INTERACTION > what kind of teacher and student interaction will be possible?
ORGANTION > what changes in organization will be required to facilitate the use of a particular technology?
NOVELTY > will the “trendiness” of this technology stimulate funding and innovation?
SPEED > how quickly and easily can material be updated and changed? How quickly can new courses be produced using this technology?
We read about several tools on the teachthought.com site. I think all of these tools can help challenged students online or in a classroom. As mentioned, I loved Lowell’s idea of creating the lesson plans early then having the students watch the lesson so that she could monitor who might need help or where she could improve on her next lesson plan. All of the tools mentioned are valuable instruments in class and online.
McCrea, Bridget. (2013. Oct 13). Who’s Serving Online Learning’s Forgotten Students?. Retrieved on 10/10/2016 from https://thejournal.com/articles/2013/10/17/whos-serving-online-learnings-forgotten-students.aspx?=THEEL
McClary, Joseph. (2013). Factors in High Quality Distance Learning Courses. Retrieved on 10/10/2016 from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer162/mcclary162.html
TeachThoughtStaff. (2013, May 15). 8 Helpful Assitive Technology Tools for Your Classroom. Retrieved on 10/10/2016 from http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/technology/8-helpful-assistive-technology-tools-for-your-classroom/