Focus Questions: How does assistive technology support efforts by teachers to reach all learners?
Every student benefits from a wide and carried range of educational experiences that can activate her or his talents and potentials as a learner. Teachers are crucial gatekeepers in how learning proceeds in schools and classrooms. They either move students forward with lively and demanding instructions or they separate students according to perceived needs and talents. Differentiated instruction (DI) and universal design for learning (UDL) involve changing institutional practices and classroom structures to promote learning success for every student.
In today's educational system, we are able to construct an entire lesson plan that will effectively introduce a topic while making it appealing to all the different types of learners in a classroom. I believe that getting the attention of the "audience" is by far one of the most important aspects of introducing new material. Being able to snatch an entire classrooms attention is all made possible by these assistive technologies. These technologies allow us to bend and twist the ways of teaching and learning for both students and teachers. By doing so, we have allowed for students to find their niche.
Students can then build on their new personal findings and perhaps accommodate themselves not only in school, but outside of school as well. For instance, I was exposed to different forms of teaching while in middle school and found that I was mainly an auditory learner. I was not aware of how important it is to know what kind of learner one is until I enrolled in college. I was then able to build on this and to this day I use my cellphone as an audio recorder to record my lectures. During my down time, I either play the lecture aloud or plug in my earphones. I find myself recalling almost every detail of the lecture, but most importantly I am able to understand the basis and meaning behind the lecture rather than just the words.
While browsing the internet searching for ways to assist students who are fairly new to the writing process, I came across a Wiki page that elaborates on "Writing Process to Fit Young Writers". This concept was introduced in our book and I found it to be a coincidence that we had just learned how to manage and publish a Wiki page. This Wiki seemed very thorough and well-written as it briefly covers almost every subject imaginable in a primary school setting.
I also came across a computer software that teaches students to put thoughts together. The student can chose to make a flow chart to encourage brainstorming. When the student is ready, they can move on and start making sentences, which are usually accompanied with pictures. The software also has a built in dictionary and thesaurus that allows the student to select a word that he or she may want to learn more about. I find this to be an efficient yet easy-to-navigate way to introduce students to writing. Being a child that struggled with writing, this tool would have been an excellent way to help me with my writers block.
Summary & Conclusion:
With these assistive technologies we are able to provide pictures and videos to those who are visual and auditory learners and models for those who are kinesthetic learners. Although this new technology is readily available for us to use in such cases, as teachers we must not forget our cause. Unfortunately, I have recently seen cases where the technology has basically replaced the presence and purpose of the teacher. Sure, the technology makes it much easier to accommodate students, but we need not forget that the we must remain actively involved in the students progress and learning development.
Maloy, R. W., Verock-O, R. E., Edwards, S. A., & Woolf, B. P. (2010). Transforming learning with new technologies. Allyn & Bacon.