Technological Devices that Make Learning Easier and Accessible
The devices used to maintain or improve the learning capacity of a student with a disability (assistive technology) includes computer programmes and tablet applications that offer text-to-speech, speech-to-text, word prediction capabilities and graphic organisers. Assistive technology can help students to learn how to complete tasks and it also helps students learn how to bypass an area of difficulty. A student with reading difficulty can, for example, opt to listen to a recording of the book, thereby bypassing an area of difficulty.
Laptop Computers and Computerized Devices
Laptops and tablets are lightweight and easy to carry around and an ideal solution for students who have difficulties writing – taking notes on an assistive device can improve the quality of the notes. A word processor can help to organise a student’s work and includes fewer spelling errors due to the assistance of the spell checker. It is not a given, however, that access to technical devices increases academic performance: technology can be a distraction. Teachers and students have to be disciplined in ensuring that devices do not detract from the learning process.
Computer-assisted instruction refers to software and applications that provide instruction and practice opportunities on a broad range of devices. Computer-assisted instruction provides instant feedback and students with learning disabilities really benefit from the computerized drill and practice. This type of instruction has been shown to help students with spelling problems as well as issues with expressive writing skills. It also helps with reading.
Students with math problems are able to practice math drills and memorise math facts more easily. More importantly, perhaps, is that the learning-disabled students develop a more positive attitude to math than students who do not use computer-assisted instruction.
Functions offered by assistive technology such as spell checker and text-to-speech help students who struggle to compose and decode words. Text-to-speech software reads aloud digital text which is beneficial because students are more likely to understand text when unfamiliar words are read to them. Text-to-speech software also impacts positively on comprehension of the text and students who listen better than they read. It also helps students to spot errors they have made when they hear their work being read back to them.
Speech-to-text transcribes spoken words into computer text which allows the student to avoid the demands of typing or handwriting. When the student is free from the constraints of manual writing or typing, it could result in stories that are longer and more complex, with fewer errors. While speech recognition accuracy gets better with use, new users may become frustrated with the training process.
How Technology Helps
Assistive technology helps students with learning disabilities to experience:
- Natural and effective communication
- Less anxiety
- Increased academic performance
- Improved connection with their classmates
- Greater independence
In a large-scale survey conducted, most of the respondents indicated that for assistive technology to be optimal, improved staff training and knowledge is essential. Assistive technology devices have to be coupled with appropriate instruction from trained teachers because the students’ success is directly linked to and a function of special education teachers. The downside of this is that many teachers feel overwhelmed by the technology and some feel that they lack the knowledge to integrate assistive technology into the curriculum.
Teachers can use technology to achieve improved levels of productivity, to expand learning opportunities for students and increase student engagement. It also helps teachers to improve the way in which they teach and gives them more time to relax at Big Dollar online casino. Schools can benefit from technology by reducing the costs of physical instructional materials and making the best use of teacher time.