Technology for Learning Differences, ADHD, and Executive Function Challenges
Coming Soon: Online Training, Technical Assistance and Consultation
Beginning in August 2014, TechPotential will offer selected assistive technology training, technical assistance, and consultation online. With the help of simple screen sharing services such as Join.Me and ScreenHero, we can work together despite being miles (or hundreds of miles) apart. I can see, and in some cases control, what is happening on your computer, or you can see and control programs on mine. Depending on the goals for our session, we might even switch back and forth between screens.
Screen sharing is ideally suited for quick technical assistance ("How do I transfer Inspiration diagrams between my computer and iPad?"), troubleshooting a vexing problem, training on many types of software, and general technology consultation. Check back in August for details!
"Tech Up" Your Learning Skills This Summer (or anytime) – Get Equipped for Success This Fall
Summer is a great time to get up to speed on technology that can help a student succeed come fall. Training is more relaxed and avoids the pressure of learning new tools while juggling other studies.
Students with learning differences often have an impressive array of cognitive "tools" in one area (e.g., math, reasoning), but a minimal set in others (e.g., reading fluency, spelling). The goal of this summer activity is to complement their internal toolset with a "technology toolbelt": a personalized set of devices and software selected to leverage their strengths and to reduce the impact of learning challenges.
The Right Tools for the Job
A skilled craftsman, an expert cook, and even a masked crimefighter can all attribute at least some of their success to one thing: having the right tools for their jobs. Likewise, the successful learner will have a variety of technologies in their “toolbelt”, know how to use them, and know which tool is best for a given task. Though the assortment of tools may evolve over time to accommodate changing needs, such a toolbelt will serve an individual with LD through middle school and high school, into college, and beyond.
For example, a student who has difficulty reading will likely benefit most from an assortment of reading tools for different tasks and contexts: a simple text-to-speech utility like Natural Reader or the Speak Selection function on a Mac for hearing Word documents or webpages spoken aloud; a more robust literacy & learning software like Kurzweil 3000 or Read & Write Gold to support reading comprehension and study; a utility that converts text to MP3 files that can be listened to on a smartphone or music player; an iPhone app or Android app for listening to narrated audiobooks on-the-go; and memberships in both Bookshare and Learning Ally for access to books in alternative forms. The student would use a different tool depending on the material to be read and the purpose for reading it (e.g., a novel vs. a science textbook). The goal is to equip the student with a well-thought-out collection of tools and provide the skills and confidence to use them.
For more about the philosophy behind creating a Technology Toolbelt, please see Ira Socol's excellent blog entries on "Toolbelt Theory".
Schedule a Summer "Tech Up"
This summer focus is designed primarily for middle school, high school, and college students.Services are provided in your home at times we mutually decide.
Step 1:Match student with the "right" technology tools
Students perform best with tools that complement their cognitive abilities, target specific tasks, and fit their learning environments. Assessment process includes:
- Full documentation review (educational evals, diagnostic test reports, IEPs, 504 plans, etc.)
- One-on-one working sessions with student (try promising tools, explore learning prefs)
- Summary of recommended tools and strategies
Step 2: Get the selected technology up and running
Insure that everything is installed and operating properly prior to training - Review recommendations, set priorities - Acquire, install, and configure recommended devices and software
Step 3: Learn to use and to apply the tools
Training and Strategies – students need both to gain the proficiency and self-confidence to use technology effectively.
- Hands-on skills training (how to operate the tools) geared to student’s learning styles
- Application strategies (how to apply the tools to achieve academic goals)
Please note: This is not a replacement for a formal assistive technology assessment and comprehensive report. However, it lays significant groundwork for such an assessment should one be needed in the future. See Services tab for hourly rate and related info.
Ideas for Summer Tech Goals
To help get you thinking, here are examples of outcomes you might consider for AT learning tools:
Reading tools to:
Reduce time spent reading
Increase reading fluency
Study tools to:
Aid analysis (identifying salient points)
Create more effective study guides
Improve recall and retention
Collect and organize information for papers, reports, projects
Writing tools to:
Get ideas out of the head and onto "paper"
Organize all those great ideas
Produce written text
Mitigate the effects of poor spelling and grammar
Facilitate revising and editing
Notetaking tools to:
Reduce time spent writing notes, increase time listening
Make notes more effective for study and review
Keep notes organized
Math tools to:
Type math equations, even for complex math
Create graphs and other math diagrams on a computer
Time & Task Management tools to:
Increase awareness of time, and ability to plan use of time
Collect and prioritize "to-do's" and assignments
Reduce distractions and wasted time (e.g., Web surfing)
Organization tools to:
Break larger projects into manageable chunks
Keep track of papers, computer documents, and information so they are "findable"
Ready to Get Started?
Call or write, and let's discuss what you and your student would like to accomplish.