“The system should fit the student rather than making the student fit the system” (John Spencer). Educators should eliminate barriers from the learning environment rather than try to eliminate a student’s individuality and unique strengths. Inclusive pedagogy is a key part of my teaching philosophy, which can be enhanced by digital technologies and connected to social practice theory (Cranmer, 2020). Florian (2004; as cited in Cranmer, 2020, p. 318) argues that, “technology can help create the conditions for equal opportunity to learn and equal access to the curriculum for all.” In line with Universal Design for Learning (UDL), digital technologies can remove environmental barriers while shaping and reproducing social practices to eliminate the focus on a perceived deficit of an individual with a disability.
I have minimal experience with using assistive technologies (AT) in the classroom that are considered to be mid- to high- tech. A nonverbal student with autism at my school (who was in my class three years ago) has his own iPad with Proloquo2Go (an Augmentative and Alternative Communication app). He uses this app both at school and at home to communicate his wants and needs through pictures and audio clips. This example disrupts the misconceptions of assistive technology of adding too much to a teacher’s workload, being used only in the classroom, and “fixing” a student’s disability. Another AT that some of my students have used is speech-to-text on Seesaw to complete writing assignments. I believe this tool fits with the cognitivist theory of learning because students are processing their thoughts out loud. A lot of my current teaching techniques seem to fit the cognitivist approach, which aligns with my preferred learning style as a student myself. Anyways, while I have only directly extended the invitation to use the speech-to-text tool to students with low spelling skills and/or dyslexia, most students around them have eagerly wanted to use the microphone feature too because it aided in quicker work completion. This demonstrates that adaptations can be utilized by everyone to enhance equal accessibility and enjoyment (universal design). However, access and family income can limit the actual equitable use of these tools.
I need to work on creating more opportunities for all students to communicate what they know outside of writing. Even a choice board that includes various language art skills (i.e., writing, speaking, representing) could be useful. The Council for Exceptional Children (2011; as cited in ACCESS, 2011, p. 3) explains that, “Options are essential to learning, because no single way of presenting information, no single way of responding to information, and no single way of engaging students will work across the diversity of students that populate our classroom.”
Young and MacCormack (2018) explain that assistive technology can support learning by helping students with task completion or by enabling students to work around areas of difficulty. In Daniel’s breakout room, my group talked about the challenge of middle year students tending to be resistant to using AT because they don’t want to be seen as different by their peers. One of Kelly’s strategies to address this issue is to make every student use the technology so nobody looks out of place. She also gives the entire class a tutorial on how to use new technology. Daniel also suggested using the AT outside of the classroom space with an SST/LRT.
There were key takeaways in the other three mini presentations too. Darcy’s point about soliciting feedback frequently (asking if this is or isn’t working, what needs enhancing, and what should stay the same) is something I need to do more with my young students. While I have used Google Forms with their families, and Mentimeter and Jamboard in university course presentations, I have never used these kinds of tools with my students. Secondly, the SETT framework that Janeen shared will help me as a classroom teacher to collaborate with the Student Support Teacher (SST) to diagnose a student’s challenges and decide on a well-suited technology for them. SETT stands for student, environment, tasks, and tools.
Finally, I hadn’t given much thought about wearable technology until Reid’s breakout room. Wearable technology has often been linked to medical or physical reasons (e.g., eye glasses, prosthetics, glucose monitoring, measuring heart rate), but educators must anticipate other ways they may appear in the classroom, such as Muse, Virtual Reality, GoPro cameras and Google Glass (Sandall, 2016). Similar to cell phones, the students bringing the latest technology into the classroom will be privileged by their socioeconomic status. How will teachers police wearable technology like cameras on students’ glasses or clothes? Are privacy laws enough? Will dress codes continue to evolve? I am currently a resister to this type of wearable technology in education (rather than a progressive or status quo).
The video about the use of Aritificial Intelligence in a classroom is very thought-provoking. I had immediate concerns about privacy/surveillance, mental health, and teacher-student interaction. Janeen shared on another blog that she heard Alec Couros speak about the changes of technology at an event years ago. There were feelings of fear and anxiety, which are normal responses to the change process. There is a sense of loss with changes, but also new beginnings and possibilities. Wearable technology is a particularly interesting topic so I viewed a couple of TED Talks about it, which are also embedded below and focus more on its potential medical uses.
ACCESS Project. (2011). Universal design for learning: A concise introduction. Colorado State University. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1c0FClx2A0B7Sx_BXtkcJASVQ4SgN6e65/view
Cranmer, S. (2020). Disabled children’s evolving digital use practices to support formal learning. A missed opportunity for inclusion. British Journal of Educational Technology, 51(2), 315-330.
Sandall, B. K. (2016). Wearable technology and schools: Where are we and where do we go from here? Journal of Curriculum, Teaching, Learning and Leadership in Education, 1(1), 1–11.
Young, G., & MacCormack, J. (2018). Assistive technology for students with learning disabilities. LD@school.