4.4 Supportive Technology

1 Introduction: Supportive Technology

Technology offers unprecedented opportunities to support student learning and it has the potential to transform instructional experiences and engage students in learning.

As instructional support, technology can provide new and different ways for students to learn skills and content.  For example, interactive video or educational digital games offer alternatives to learning from text and lecture. These alternatives may be more effective and motivating for some learners, particularly those who have difficulty learning in more traditional ways.

As a scaffold, technology helps support the tasks that students are asked to do in and outside of school and everyday life.  Students who have difficulty remembering basic math facts, for example, might use a digital calculator or students who have difficulties with handwriting might use digital math paper. Consider your own use of technology in every day life and you’ll see that there are numerous ways in which you use technology to scaffold your own learning and performance.

Finally, technology can be used as a compensatory tool to take the place of skills that a student lacks or actions that are not available to him or her.  For example, cochlear implants provide direct stimulation to the auditory nerve so that sounds are transmitted to the brain of a deaf person.  Text-to-speech tools provide print read aloud for someone with a visual impairment or severe dyslexia to access and learn from text.

In the examples above, technology serves as a supportive, flexible tool that improves learning, motivation, and other outcomes for individuals with disabilities.  This section will highlight some examples of how technology supports individuals with disabilities and, indeed, all learners.   The examples represent only a fraction of the many options that technology provides to improve teaching and learning.  


Goals

Goals:

  • Recognize the power of flexible, supportive technology and it's value when creating inclusive learning opportunities.
  • Understand the difference between universal and assistive technology.

Objectives:

  • Develop a instructional plan for a diverse learner.
  • Find resources/technology tools to support struggling students.
  • Choose appropriate supportive technology to meet learning needs.
  • Experience text to speech technology.

Considerations:

  • Technology is supportive when matched to the student.
  • Technology is supportive when it is combined with quality instruction.
  • Technology is supportive when support is provided for it's use in the classroom.
  • Technology is supportive when it is used in mindful ways.