Select, evaluate, and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning
Assistive technology is an umbrella term that refers to all available technologies that can support student learning. Adaptive technology aids a student in accommodating for a disability that he or she may have. Universal design is one method of addressing both of assistive and adaptive needs. In my post, Using Universal Design to Differentiate Instruction, I explored how its seven principles encourage lesson design that reduces barriers. Universal Design presents curriculum that is accessible to all students in the room by utilizing a variety of formats, while maintaining flexibility in how students showcase their learning. It dictates that instead of viewing differentiation as something an educator does after lesson design to tailor learning to individual students, an educator would first design a lesson with a scope that can meet the needs of everyone. CAST is a resource that informs educators about universal design by breaking it into three easy categories:
- action & expression
For example, in my classroom, an FM microphone is used to amplify my voice not only for the sake of one hearing impaired student in a certain class during the day, but all the time so that any and all students can hear me equally regardless of where they are seated.
Student choice is one method that I have utilized extensively to both differentiate learning and remain flexible in how students showcase their understanding. For example, whether a student wants to write a paper, build a website, or make a movie, many of the curriculum standards can be met. While this varies by age and content area, offering choice also often brings student engagement.
My use of BYOD has also fostered the opportunity for assistive and adaptive technologies to be used by individual students. Some students have the ability to record their notes verbally, or manage their homework on electronic calendars. Additionally, apps sometimes support individual students. For example, Google Translate now has the ability for students to use their cameras to translate written text on the page into another language instantaneously. The power of tools like this is undeniable, which is why experimenting with emerging tools in real time can be beneficial.