tech inquiry

Blog # 8 My Personal Experience

When tackling the idea of assistive technology in the classroom I have a bit of a different approach because of my own experience. Growing up in school I never had the access to technology, due to my age demographic and the development of technology at the time. Aside from that, I never received the technology I needed to succeed until grade eleven, and that is because I went undiagnosed. Since I wasn’t a student of concern, my administrators and counsellors couldn’t provide the funding needed, but encouraged my parents to have me undergo a psychoeducational assessment report. A psychoeducational assessment report is a test used to diagnose a student’s learning or behavioural challenges, and identify if a learning disability is present. These evaluations cost between $2,500-$5,000, and for a majority of the population that price is unattainable without funding from the school district. It is also needed in order to create and individual education plan (IEP), or qualify for funding to get tools and the assistance in the classroom. When I was in grade eleven I finally got the results from my psychoeducational assessment report and then my own IEP became a reality, which I needed so desperately my whole life. I was diagnosed with dyslexia, and below is a screenshot from my own psychoeducational assessment report breaking down the types of dyslexia.

Once I got the administrative stuff out of the way, I could look at different devices and programs to assist my learning. When it comes to technology and different devices I had the opportunity to use and iPad, and a laptop which aided me with note taking and  helped my success today. There is also this text/talk program called Kurzweil 3000, and I found it beneficial to help with reading, even though it is a robotic voice. The downfall to these options are funding and how imperative it is to have the money to support not only the student, but the classroom as a whole. Assistive technology will greatly influence how learners with disabilities, among their peers develop in the future. With the strides taken in the last ten years in regards to technology, it will be the best tool to help each student succeed.

Alyssa Lloyd

tech inquiry

Blog #7 Assistive Technology Products

There are many ways that technology can aid a student in their learning. Things like apps or technology based products that help a student achieve their greatest learning potential.

Communication is very important in learning and in everyday life. There are apps that can help people communicate through text- speech apps. like Proloquo2Go. This is an app that provides an alternative way of communication where there are symbols to speech. This app is available for all ages (beginning to advanced communicators). An app like this can help a student who has more difficulty communicating. The app not only has symbols to speak, but also helps users learn how to communicate due to the app having a variety of levels for different learners. technology is everywhere so something as simple as an app can help many people due to it being accessible on a popular platform like IOS. Although you still have to pay for the app, it still amazes me how AT is everywhere and can be something as small as a text to speech app to help many users communicate.

https://www.assistiveware.com/products/proloquo2go

On Youtube, there is a video called “Assistive Technology in Action,” this video introduces a boy that uses a Livescribe Smartpen. This is another resource that can help students with note taking in class. The smart pen records the teacher while the student takes notes during the class. With this pen, the words written correlate with what the pen is recording so When a previous word is clicked on, the pen would repeat back to what was recorded at the time the note was taken. A product like this can be very beneficial to many students because everyone processes information at a different pace so an object like this allows for a student to not only take their own notes and process the information, but give them the ability to go back to see if they missed any information. A smartpen still allows for a student to use their own abilities and feel in control with what they are learning where they are working a long side the class when the teacher is talking but are able to work at their own pace too because the student does not have to worry about not getting everything because they have the pen to help them.

These are just two examples of Assistive Technology products that aide students in their learning. These products are two simple things that help students communicate/learn information makes a big difference to their learning.

Tori Chen

tech inquiry

Blog #6 SET BC

Special Education Technology-BC

While I was researching about Assistive technology, I found this site called SET-BC. SET-BC works in partnership with BC school districts where both groups work collaboratively provides services surrounding assistive technology and students who need the aid of assistive technology. The website not only gives more information about assistive technology but provides resources and information about sevices that are accessible and stories about how assistive technology is used in a classroom.

SET-BC provides a lot of sources to learn more about assistive technology. On this website they have Self Directed online courses that allow for you to learn from online through videos and modules through a self-pace system. I went through a course about the basics of assistive technology. The course introduces types of technology and how they are used in a classroom and how they support students. There are modules that contained videos and worksheets that asked questions that allowed for reflection about the technology. The modules walked you through how to look for signs of students who might need more aid and how assistive tech can be used in a classroom. One module that stood out to me was the second one where they linked a variety of youtube videos called “Assistive Technology in Action” These were short videos where students talked about the technology they use and how it had helped them. Some things used was Pulse Live Pen, computers that were speech to text, and communication boards/ computers.

The course also provides a general plan to implement assistive technology if needed. Each module has an activity and extra resources to further your learning. This self-guided course only introduces AT but this website is a good source where you can learn more and read stories about how AT has aided so many students in a classroom and see new technology emerging to help students.

https://www.setbc.org/

Tori Chen

tech inquiry

Blog #5 How to Access Assistive Technology

Upon researching Assistive Technology(AT) I have found that AT is clearly crucial for aiding students who have learning disabilities. Schools province wide have access to a number of resources in their classrooms to assist their students, but my question is, how do schools get access to these things. It’s no secret that electronics are expensive, so how do schools receive the funding to supply students access to such materials.

After talking to a former principal from my hometown, School District 67 Okanagan Skaha, I found that getting access to these educational tools isn’t actually too difficult. While he said that the school he worked at was just beginning the process of accumulating such types of technology, he was able to share a number of ways that teachers can acquire AT’s for their classrooms. School districts allocate each school in the district a certain amount of money each year that is to be spent on technology, teachers can then apply to their principal to use this money for tools that they deem necessary. Districts also supply technologies to individuals who require it as part of their individual learning plans(IEP). There are also grants that teachers can apply to and companies that offer better prices to schools on class sets. Additionally, teachers and principals can also apply to their schools, Parent Advisory Council(PAC) for help in funding materials. As well, in more rare cases, schools in very affluent districts can require such technologies as a school supply. While not every classroom will gain a class set of iPads all at once, it is very possible for schools to acquire an appropriate quantity of Assistive Technologies over the span of a few years.

Apple offers school discounts on volume purchases of iPads and other tools. Read more at: https://www.apple.com/ca/education/ipad/how-to-buy/

There are also programs that work with school districts to develop their use and understanding of technology in the classroom. In British Columbia there is a program called SET-BC that has a partnership with all BC school districts. SET-BC offers a number of services including: consultations,professional development, technology training and loaning of equipment. Read more at: https://www.setbc.org/information-for-families/

The benefits of assistive technology have become widely known in our province and a number of resources have been made available to aid schools in acquiring such technologies, as well as providing support on how to implement these materials into the classroom.3

Cassidy Lindsay

tech inquiry

Blog #4 What is Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is a topic that I feel very foreign to. This is perhaps the number one reason why I chose this topic for my tech inquiry project. When I look back at my elementary years, I have a difficult time recalling any use of technology in the classroom, besides of course, scheduled computer lab time. I know that this is certainly not the case anymore and I am looking forward to continuing to familiarize myself with this idea.

So what exactly is assistive technology? Heres what I have gathered thus far: Assistive Technology is a broad idea that describes a number of platforms and devices to aid those with disabilities. This idea seems to be quite obvious but entails such a variety of technologies. Assistive Technology (AT) is not strictly electronics but describes even the most simple of tools, an example being a pencil grip. An excellent website I found describes AT in three broad terms: No-tech, Low-tech, and High-Tech. This was very intriguing as I had previously only assumed AT to be high-level electronics. Additionally, this sheds light on a very important idea that suggests how the smallest of changes can hugely benefit a student.

Taken from develop.bc.ca

This being said AT is not only used in schools but in a wide variety of facilities to support those of all ages in their daily lives.

Now that there is an understanding of what Assistive Technology is, we can ask the next question: How are British Columbia Teachers currently implementing AT into their classrooms? After looking into a number of different websites I came across The Greater Victoria School District 61’s Technology for Learning Plan as of October 2017.

Read more at:  https://www.sd61.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/91/2018/03/Technology-For-Learning-Plan.pdf

This district created a number of goals related to the use of technology in their schools and provided strategies as to how they were going to reach those goals. The most commonly discussed aspect of AT was the need for mobile technology and the question of how the use of technology can be used to track a students learning and success. I could not find a clear answer to this question but I imagine that technology is measured differently in every classroom based on every student’s individual needs.

These ideas are not just specific to School District 61 but are a common theme across the province for how schools would like to implement technology into their classrooms. Technology is constantly changing, which means classroom use is simultaneously changing with it. However, the common goal of all schools seems to be the idea of giving students access to a wide variety of technologies in the classroom in order to aid and progress their learning.

Cassidy Lindsay

tech inquiry

Blog #3 Assistive Technology in Classrooms 2.0

In my last blog post, I mentioned I wanted to contact more teachers after speaking with Mindy Myttenar about assistive technology. Last year, I had the opportunity to volunteer in a Grade 1 class. I thought the teacher that I volunteered with was a great person to contact and get some more information on assistive technology that is in classrooms today.

I again confirmed with the teacher to make sure that they were comfortable with me using their name, school, and grade in my blog post, out of common courtesy, copyright, and liability.

Miila Pullan is a Grade 1 teacher at Frank Hobbs Elementary School. I contacted her through email and she answered me back answering a couple questions I had.  I asked her what types of assistive technology she uses, her thoughts on the pros and cons and how/have if she has personally seen them benefit her students?

Photo from Wiki of Kindergarten Student using an iPad by Oakknollschool

At Frank Hobbs, they have both iPad’s and Chromebooks that are available for teachers to use. She mentioned that: “Typically the primaries use the iPads and the intermediates use the Chromebooks”. This is due to the fact that the Chromebooks they have to use need to be set up with a mousepad and they need to log in with their own login. This is a con for primary grades since it can take a decent amount of time and only having 30-minute blocks, it can just end up being a waste of time I did not take this into consideration when speaking with Mindy at Lakehill a simple task such as logging in and setting up a mousepad can be time-consuming for primary students versus intermediate students. A pro then for having iPads is that they have apps such as Book Creator, Ten Frames, and Scratch Jr to support students learning. Though a con is that they do not come with headphones and it can cause a noise problem. Another con is that the iPad’s also require a teacher to look after them so they are always updated, charged and in a portable carrier which is expensive. Then as for a final pro, the iPad’s are an assistive technology device that students love using and for the most part they are very knowledgeable on how to use them.

Then to answer my final question if Miila has seen the assistive technology available at her school benefits students, she said yes. It allows them to work in groups on interactive learning apps. They use the app Ten Frames to demonstrate their learning in math (addition) and use Scratch Jr to teach Grade 1’s coding. She also noted that students like a break from doing the regular worksheets since using the iPad’s are more hands-on and fun.

Erin Fletcher

tech inquiry · Uncategorized

Blog #2 Assistive Technology in Classrooms

When looking at assistive technology within classrooms, I wanted to find out what was really being used in classrooms today. I thought what better way to find out what is being used than speaking with a teacher themselves and see what they use.

I was heading to Lakehill Elementary School to discuss a gym lesson plan and emailed the teacher I was meeting with to see if I could also speak with her regarding my tech inquiry project. She was very willing to chat and right off the bat noted that she was a wonderful teacher to speak about assistive technology with. I made sure to confirm with her that she was comfortable with me using her name, school, and grade in my blog post, out of common courtesy, copyright, and liability.

Photo of Chromebooks found on Flicker by Kevin Jarrett

Mindy Myttenar is a Grade 4/5 teacher at Lakehill and has been a teacher within the Greater Vicotria District for the last 13 years. I first off asked her what her experiences with assistive technology has been and the conversation went from there. Mindy applied for a SET-BC Grant three years ago. This grant is set up to help students who either have learning disabilities regarding writing or are reluctant writers. Luckily she was able to achieve the grant and now has a class set of Chromebooks that have a speech to text and word prediction software installed on them. Mindy said: “I have found that many students choose to use word-prediction software, especially to aid with spelling. Speech to text has been beneficial for students who have very limited writing abilities”. The Chromebooks have also been able to motivate students to learn math through online resources and students are able to creatively share information using Google Docs. On the other hand, the Chromebooks in her class allow her to not have to worry about booking time in the computer lab. Myself, being a student who struggled with spelling and writing, I think that the speech to text software would have helped my learning. As a visual learner, seeing the words after I have said them is an interesting concept and I wonder how much more of a better of a speller I would be today.

Another assistive technology that is used within Mindy’s classroom, over the last three years has been a speaker system. Though she has not had any students with hearing difficulties, she said: “the speaker system is noted to improve listening and comprehension for all students”. I have never had a speaker system in any class that I have been in. I know that sometimes when a teacher of mine was speaking, I had a difficult time hearing them due to other noises in the room or students talking. I can see how being able to speak on a speaker system can help students clearly hear what is being said during a lesson.

Photo of Hokki Stools by Meriwether Lewis Elementary found on Flicker

In the end, Mindy explained that while technology is a very important way to support our students there are also other things that can increase their learning too. Alternate seating arrangements that allow students to choose where to sit that will help them focus best. In her class specifically, she has a couple of Hokki Stools (they wobble), tension bands on the desks (students can fidget their feet and not distract other students), standing desks, and Zuma Rockers. I have seen these seats in many classrooms that we have visited since Septemeber and can see how they are able to support a student who has a hard time sitting still.

After speaking with Mindy and gaining a better understanding of a couple of ways to support students in grade 4/5, I am excited to see what other teachers are using in their classrooms. I am now planning on contacting other teachers I know within the community and seeing how they are incorporating assistive technology into their classrooms and how it has benefited their students.

Erin Fletcher

tech inquiry

Blog #1

In our tech inquiry project, we are planning to discover and learn more about assistive technology. To learn more about this, we are  planning to research and interview outside sources. Throughout these blog posts, we will post weekly progress and ways we would use assistive technology in a classroom. By the end of our research we hope to have more knowledge about this topic and ways to use assistive technology in a classroom.