I was thinking of tackling blog prompt number two this week. My reasoning was that while we were talking in class about assistive technologies I was thinking that my experiences with such technologies were pretty limited. I teach in a very small high school and I end up teaching many kids for 5 years straight, so I do not encounter the diversity of students that many other teachers do in other school settings. When I was first thinking of assistive technology, I was thinking more along the lines of technology that aids students with disabilities, but after the class presentation, doing some thinking, and reading Amy’s blog, I have broadened my idea of assistive technologies and have come to the realization that I do in fact have enough experience with assistive technology to discuss my experiences with it!

 

The assistive technology that I have decided to discuss, and the one that I feel I utilize the most, are smartphones!

 

Smartphones are a powerful tool that can be utilized to assist in many different ways. A lot of assistive technology is designed to aid one particular item, whereas current smartphones are so powerful and versatile that they have the ability to aid almost every single student. I have tweeted on two occasions the power of our modern smartphones!

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Smartphones have the ability to help learners learning a new language as they have translation tools.

 

If students have difficulty hearing, students could use earphones from their phone and listen to audio that would be much easier to hear.

 

I have even read an article in Discover Magazine about new technology that has the ability to allow one to feel texture through a touchscreen. This could become a very powerful tool for visually impaired learners or anyone for that matter as we can all learn better when we can stimulate more of our senses.

 

Really, the list can go on and on. The ways in which I utilize phones as assistive technology the most in my class I would say is for giving a voice to shy or anxious students, for engagement purposes, and to allow for students to learn using different styles. I could probably list more, but I’ll just focus on how I use these.

 

Kahoot is a very popular tool in my classes. Students love it, and I love it too! We have also used Socrative before, and I am planning on getting going on Plickers right away too! I really try to make sure that no students can take a class off in my class, and by that I mean, sit there without contributing. I make sure to not always select students who put their hands up, but call on anyone at anytime. Knowing this, students have to stay focused knowing that they may be called on at anytime, and it prevents them from knowing that when someone puts their hand up, that they don’t have to think anymore because ‘so and so has it covered’. However, I can’t always get to everyone, and I would still love to have students each participate more. These tools make everyone submit an answer, and due to the anonymity, it takes away the fear of being wrong or being put on the spot. It’s a great way that a device can be used to assist students participate who otherwise find it difficult to do so.

 

Tools like Kahoot are also great for engagement, but I also think that smartphones can be utilized in other ways to assist students with being intellectually engaged. I am continually working on shifting my classes to allow for more collaboration, independent learning, intellectual freedom, etc. I have quite a few students working on various projects that they have decided to pursue themselves, such as participating in MOOC’s related to our classes. When there is time in class, students can simply take out their devices and work on their projects. The assistance the devices provide in engaging my students is incredibly valuable and can completely change the class atmosphere.

 

We have recently finished creating stop-animation mitosis videos in one of my classes. The ability to have cameras and video editing software in their hands is an example of how learning about various processes can now be achieved using completely different styles that students may find much more valuable in terms of helping them understand. The possibilities with today’s smartphones and software developers keep expanding by the day.

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I commented on Tyson’s blog and have included it here because I feel it’s a good way to wrap things up. “Your blog reminded me of when I first put on glasses in grade 5. I was in the dispensary, and I said ‘THERE’S GLASSES ON THE WALL OVER THERE??’. Having everything come into focus is an amazing experience. You don’t realize what you don’t have, until you realize you didn’t have it! A lot of students could likely perform so much better if they knew what things out there could help them, but they don’t yet know they need help. As teachers, if we can become aware of different assistive technologies, we can help our students find ways of achieving greater success”.

Let’s all become more aware of the tools so that we can provide students with the tools they need to become successful learners. As Bill Nye always says, “Let’s change the world!”

 

Live long and prosper

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