Day 25 – #28daysofwriting Assistive Technology Series

I have been very postive about Assistive Technology so far but it would be dishonest of me to finish this series without admitting to the problems.

People sceptical of tech do have valid concerns and I don’t think I get it right all the time. On top of that, students change – technology they were quite happy to use in primary school may suddenly seem embarrassing in front of the big kids. The school might be larger making it harder to cart around a laptop to various lessons.

These are my top 5 problems.

Problem #1

Insufficient training – the student gives up because no-one has shown him or her how to use it.

Solution – build capacity within the school.

* Give a Teaching Assistant the title of Assistive Technologist – ensure adequate time and training so he or she can become the expert.

* Allow students using this technology to become digital leaders in assistive technology – they can teach younger students.

Problem #2

Teachers will not let student use the technology.

Solution

* a 10 minute presentation to all staff raises awareness of how the technology helps – be clear why a student requires the tech and how it should improve achievement – reassure staff that it is them who will make the final decision but maybe challenge, through debate, if teachers are preventing use due to an ideology rather than the best interests of the child.

Problem #3

IT department put barriers up preventing the efficient use of the technology.

Solution

This is difficult – it is IT’s job to protect the school but it is my job to ensure the tech I provide is fit for purpose. I have had some difficult conversations but usually find there is a solution we are both happy with. Explaining what I need and why, helps – equally I have learned to listen to IT’s concerns and ask questions if I don’t understand. The bottom line is that we are here to help children learn; if we can’t facilitate that then I am concerned. It’s like having a library which won’t lend out books in case people don’t bring them back.

Problem #4

Keeping a record of work and showing progress.

IMG_1006

Solution

@hrogerson raised this question and it is an issue. For students with SEN we ensure the TAs check students have saved worked, sent it to the teacher or printed it out. How to show progress? I can only say screenshot as much as possible and keep in photos. An eportfolio is an idea or Foldr has something called flinks with shared folders (freeyourfiles.co.uk/blog/2015/…). They offer a free trial. Owncloud is an open platform where students can access data from all devices.

@cherrylkd mentioned she uses Evernote to track progress – I’m hoping she may blog on this one day….(grovel grovel).

I don’t have a definitive answer on this I’m afraid.

Problem #5

Student will not use the tech because they don’t want to appear different.

Solution

This needs unpicking – why? What is the problem? Is there something else which would help? A tablet with text prediction may be preferable to voice recognition in the classroom. Or, do they need space to work away from others to use it?

Once all options have been explored and there is still resistance, I’m certainly not going to force it. I don’t think I’ve met a student who has rejected every option though and tablets have made this easier in my opinion.

I am sure there are other problems but I still think technology assists rather than hinders and it can transform some students’ lives.

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