Posted in 1.4 Learner Characteristics, 2.1 Print Technologies, 2.2 Audiovisual Technologies, 2.3 Computer-Based Technologies, 2.4 Integrated Technologies, 3.3 Implementation and Institutionalization, All, DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, UTILIZATION

Adaptive/Assistive Technology

Cognitive Difficulties

The Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, at The University of Colorado defines cognitive disabilities as, “a substantial limitation in one’s capacity to think, including conceptualizing, planning and sequencing thoughts and actions, remembering, and interpreting the meaning of social and emotional cues, and of numbers and symbols.”

Retrieved from: https://www.cu.edu/ColemanInstitute/background.html (Published December 14, 2006)

Word prediction software dramatically reduces the number of keystrokes required to type text.  The predictive text helps students with sequencing of letters and offers cues to remember word spellings or suffixes.  Predictions are based on spelling, syntax, and frequent or recent use. This prompts kids who struggle with writing to use proper spelling, grammar, and word choices, with fewer keystrokes.

Keyboards for Dyslexia.  Dyslexia makes it difficult to spell words according to letters alone, therefore students may find using a keyboard to be a very tricky task.  One type of assistive keyboard uses a combination of red, green and blue lights to backlight the keys thus switching the focus from symbols to colors making it easier for the user to identify the key they are looking for.  Other options that may help students recognize letters are keyboards with white lettering on black keys or black lettering on white keys.

Physical Difficulties

The World Health Organization defines physical disabilities as “an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.  An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an acitivity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task of action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individaul in involvement of life situions.  Thus a disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.”

Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_disabilities


Voice recognition software turns speech into text without needing to use a keyboard or mouse.  This allows students to dictate to the computer what they would like to say and watch their words turn to text.  Students can use this software to compose documents, letters, emails, and collaborate with others in remote locations.  This technology can help students with limited mobility and also allows them to control computer functions such as opening files and saving documents.

BookShare houses 125,000 digital books (including 6,000 textbooks), teacher recommended readings, periodicals, and assistive technology tools.  These materials are available in several formats, including HTML, text, braille and DAISY (Digital Accessible Information Systems).  This alternative offers accessible options for the blind, low vision, a physical disability like CP or a reading disability like dyslexia.  The ipad app version, Read2Go has built-in audio and visual support, allowing users to listen to text read aloud as it is highlighted on screen.

Sensory Difficulties

The Work Family and Researchers Network published this definition of sensory disability, “A person with a disability that has any of the long-lasting conditions such as blindness, deafness, or a severe vision or hearing impairment (Erickson & Lee, 2008).”

Retrieved from http://workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/glossary/s/sensory-disability-definitions

Magnification Devices enlarge text for students who have visual impairments.  Many students struggle to read because they’ve lost their glasses or a family can’t pay for them.   Magnification devices allow students to scan text and then view them in a larger font.  Some magnification devices also allow students to take and store pictures of text, thereby acting as a tool for note taking.

 

Magic Touch Screens connect the student with computer screen by making the monitor a touch screen.  This makes the computer interactive via the screen and is good for students who have difficulty with fine motor skills.  Another use is for students who are learning how to use a computer and have trouble controlling the mouse, and for students who need to touch the screen or have a sensory impairment.

At-Risk Students

US Legal defines at-risk students as “students who are not experiencing success in school and are potential dropouts. Usually, they are low academic achievers who exhibit low self-esteem. Generally they are from low socioeconomic status families. At-risk students tend not to participate in school activities and have a minimal identification with the school. They have disciplinary and truancy problems that lead to credit problems. They exhibit impulsive behavior and their peer relationships are problematic. Family problems, drug addictions, pregnancies, and other problems prevent them from participating successfully in school. As they experience failure and fall behind their peers, school becomes a negative environment that reinforces their low self-esteem.”

Retrieved from http://definitions.uslegal.com/a/at-risk-students/

Podcasts invite students to hear stories or learn new information independently.   Podcasts can be listened to through mobile devices and allow students to “escape” with headphones.  At risk students have reported that music also offers guidance in their lives and helps control moods.  Students can also use podcasting to document their own unique personal stories.  Podcasting offers a platform for students to express themselves and process the often challenging situations they face.

Photo Story Presentations offer another way for students to express their thoughts and emotion through images.  Photo stories can offer an alternative to essay writing, or verbal presentations but still allow students to demonstrate understanding of particular concepts. Photo stories also allow students to explore ways to communicate a message through images.  Another benefit is that students can visually track their growth as they develop more complex story boards.

Gifted and Talented Students

The US Department of Education defines gifted and talented students as, Children and youth with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment.”

Retreived from http://www.nsgt.org/articles/index.asp

Mobile Devices allow gifted and talented students to continue to ask questions about the world around them.  A mobile device also provides students the opportunity to engage in independent learning or dig deeper into subjects of interest.  This can be used for student designed projects or to expand on a topic introduced in class.

Multimedia presentation software allows gifted and talented to practice a multitude of skills simultaneously.  Video, photo, web, and podcasting offer students an opportunity to explore working with different technology presentation formats while demonstrating what they have learned within a specific content area.  The variety of multimedia presentation including video, text, hyperlinks, images, and auto will give students a diverse foundation in using 21st century presentation skills.

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Posted in 1.3 Instructional Strategies, 2.2 Audiovisual Technologies, 2.3 Computer-Based Technologies, 3.1 Media Utilization, 3.2 Diffusion of Innovations, DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, UTILIZATION

Math & Science Learning Activities

Good science methodology involves conducting tests and making observations.  In the screencasts below I explore how simulations, virtual manipulative, and a virtual world can be used as learning activities.

Virtual World–Second Life

I’ve long been interested in virtual worlds, who wouldn’t want to explore without paying for gas, hotels, flights, etc., so I took this opportunity to spend a little more time getting my feet wet in Second Life.  I was impressed with resources and activities found on Genome Island; I found scavenger hunts, interactive experiments like the mixallamas gene game, links to outside resources, and really cool virtual simulations like the 3D cell.

I found Second Life exciting and genuinely had the sense of being an explorer, however I did spend as much time experimenting with my avatar’s moves as I did exploring.  Second Life seems like a neat tool for a teacher who is experienced with the Second Life landscape.  Click on the photos to come on a tour with my avatar or click here.

Interactive Science Simulations

Interactive Science Simulations are interactive, research-based simulations of physical phenomena from the PhET™ project at the University of Colorado.  These simulations allow students to play with variables in science and then observe different outcomes as those variables change.  These simulations can be used for all grades either as an inquiry-based exploration or as a guided exploration.  For a quick tour and to hear my thoughts on one of these simulations, click the photo, or click here.

National Library of Virtual Manipulative

The National Library of Virtual Manipulative (NLVM) contains around 100 virtual manipulative that address concepts in numbers & operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, and data & probability.  These manipulative virtually mimic many classroom manipulative like geoblocks, cuisnes rods, beakers, and rules.  A teacher/parent section describes how each tool supports national math standards.  These tools can be used to practice concepts, explore prior learned with new variables.  I recommend that students use of these tools are guided by critical thinking questions.

The NLVM states, “Learning and understanding mathematics, at every level, requires student engagement. Mathematics is not, as has been said, a spectator sport. Too much of current instruction fails to actively involve students. One way to address the problem is through the use of manipulatives, physical objects that help students visualize relationships and applications.”

Click the photo above to take a quick virtual tour, or click here.