Assisstive Technologies on Windows 10 — November 20, 2016

Assisstive Technologies on Windows 10

Assistive technologies have allowed for the expansion of a traditional classroom to incorporate ALL learners, rather than be exclusive.  As technologies have improved and access to the more advanced technologies has increased, teachers are able to find resources and tools to make their classroom more accessible.  “An individual is able to complete a task that they previously could not complete, did so slowly, or did so poorly (Roblyer, 2016).”  Computers are a huge part of this assistive technology community.  In the 1990s it became clear that computers could be a great way to schools and classrooms to reach all learners and computer manufacturers responded to this by incorporating assistive technologies into their computers.  This practice has grown with all computers being made with assistive technologies.  In addition to the computers themselves, there is a multitude of software available to add on to computers allowing for an increased access to all (Roblyer, 2016).  

The assistive technologies available offer a wide array of support.  There are speech-recognition softwares to help students use speech to type assignments or create projects.  There are also text-to-speech softwares to help students who cannot see text hear what is being shared and have pictures be described.  There are also many visual and audio aids that can be incorporated into computers (Staff, 2012).

On my Windows 10 I found quite a few built in assistive technologies. The first I tried out was the Narrator for Windows Mail.  I started by watching the video to better understand how the process works and then set up Windows Mail for the first time.  I found this tool to be fascinating.  Using simple key codes the user can increase the complexity in which the email is read.  There is a basic reader that simply reads through the email, but you can also choose a reader that explains what text looks like to help with emphasis and also can break down tables and other information that might not be conveyed in a basic reader.  A tool like this would be very beneficial to a visually impaired user.  

Windows 10 offers many tools for users who may be visually impaired.  They also have a magnifier tool which helps with increasing the size of an image or text.  

In addition, they offer text or visual alternatives to sound a computer might make.  For example, you can turn on captions for spoken dialogues.  Or have your computer flash to share a warning.  This would benefit a user who is hearing impaired.  

I also came across the whole Ease of Access settings board that can be used on Windows 10 to help those with disabilities.  This settings board is where users can change settings to have text read or to have an onscreen keyboard setup.  

One of the best resources available through this is the Speech Recognition software which allows the computer to be completely controlled by voice.  For users who may not be able to use a keyboard or mouse, this allows them to complete the same tasks other users can, in similar time.  I tried this software and while there was a bit of set up and new “lingo” to learn, I was able to move through tasks on my computer at a similar pace.  

Devices like my PC provide opportunities for all users to participate in the activities and tools a computer has to offer.  In the classroom, its benefits can be endless.  Students can complete similar tasks to their peers, with minimal changes to the activity.  Tools like this are available on many types of computers and even mobile phones, allowing for more access to these assistive technologies.  

“Accessibility Can Empower.” Microsoft Accessibility: Technology for Everyone, Home. Microsoft.

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, 7th Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9780133955439/

Staff. “The Role Of Assistive Technology In Supporting Disabled Learners.” TeachThought. N.p., 18 Dec. 2012.

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Benefits of Multimedia in the Classroom — October 2, 2016
EdTech Graphic: Educational Technology Defined — August 7, 2015

EdTech Graphic: Educational Technology Defined

Unwinding the definition.
When I first began this course, I defined educational technology as “using technology to enhance education.”  A simple definition, but I have learned that this field encompasses so much more.

The concept of educational technology is defined as: the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.  This definition dives into all of the parts within educational technology.

The study and ethical practice are essential to the formation of the field of educational technology.  As the technology in our world continues to evolve, it is important to study its growth. Continuous research and reflection are essential in the field of educational technology.  While working in the field, it is important to consider the AECT Code of Ethics.  The act as a guide and a means for evaluation and reflection.

I found the most influential part of this definition to be the idea of “facilitating learning.”  What does it mean to facilitate?  Well, it means to make a process easier or to bring together the resources and oversee the process.  To facilitate learning, is to provide students with the tools, resources, and materials, and allow them to discover, create, and innovate.  Having this as one of the main points within the definition shows the emphasis on how educational technology is enhancing the learning process.  It promotes the idea of instructors taking a step back, and allowing the students to construct knowledge on their own.  As the definition continues , it emphasizes “improving performance.”  This promotes the usability of resources, while motivating learners to become digital citizens and gain 21st century skills.  It guides instructors to creating real world situations for their learners, and creating effective and reachable learning goals.  These two parts of the definition are integral to the concept and practice of educational technology.

In order to successfully fulfill your duty as an educational technologist, you must be able to create, use and manage technological processes and resources. Creating is an extensive process.  It means create learning environments, both digitally and physically, such as computer labs.  It means creating instructional tools, like ThingLink or Socrative for the purpose of promoting learning.  Additionally, it means creating educational systems for teachers to use and follow.  The use of these processes and resources can be complex as well.  It covers the integration of technology to schools, the encouragement of teachers, the selection of best practices, and ensuring effectiveness.  Finally, the management skills of an educational technologist are equally as important.   There is a need to direct operations, manage projects, collaborate, delegate, and implement.

Educational technology is a complex field, that is continuously growing.  While the definition is “jam-packed” is leads to a larger understanding of the field and its purpose.

Creating my graphic.
To create my graphic I used Google Drawing.  I collected images of technological tools for the classroom through a Google Image search.  I used the search tools to find images that were “labeled for reuse with modification” and all of the images I used were from Wikimedia Commons.  In Google Drawing, I created a black background to represent a blackboard with a “callout” shape to symbolize a crack or break in the board.  I then placed all of the technology tool images within the break to symbolize how technology allows us to breakthrough the classroom walls and dive deeper into learning.  I then placed the key terms of the educational technology definition around the chalkboard to emphasize their importance.  Finally, I used ThingLink to add descriptions to each of the terms to help viewers understand how each term works within the definition, as well as how it leads to improved learning environments.

I have used Google Drawing to create images before, and find it a very useful tool when making infographs for students.  ThingLink is also a great resource to add information to infographs.  I have used ThingLink to create interactive maps for my students with links to articles and videos.  I have also used it as an inquiry tool, providing my students with basic information which leads them to question a concept and inquire deeper through research.  While I was looking for a way to create my graphic, I discovered Piktochart, which is a great tool to create infographs as well.  It is definitely a tool I will use in the future to provide information to my students, and I even plan to have my students use it to create their own infographs.

Click here to view a larger version of my EdTech Graphic.

References:
Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Professional Ethics and Educational Technology. In Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary (pp. 283-326). New York: Routledge.

RSS Feed Reader Lesson Plan — July 19, 2015

RSS Feed Reader Lesson Plan

This assignment introduced me to a great resource and also led me to create a practical lesson plan I can use this fall.  While using an RSS Feed reader, like Feedly, can be great for everyday life for staying up to date, it can also be a great tool for a social studies classroom.  Feedly was easy to set up and provides great “starter-kits” for new users.  I was able to find some great education sites to follow, as well as news sites.  I love the ability to view all of these sources up-to-date and in one place.  This helped inspire me to create my lesson plan.  While Feedly can be a great resource for current events, I wanted to make a connection to “past.”  After a lot of thought, I decided to create an “On this day in history” lesson plan.  Students would use provided links to discover events from the past that happened on the day of the lesson.  Then they would use Feedly to access the most current news sources.  After evaluating the events, students would create a blog post in Blogger, titled “On this day in history,” combining what they learned about the past with the current events.  My school uses Google Apps for Education and all students have created a Blogger using their Google Account.  Overall, I can see how this lesson could be a great way to engage students in both content and technology.  Feedly and other RSS Feed Readers will be a great tool to use this upcoming school year.   However, it was challenging to discover a way to incorporate an RSS Feed Reader into a lesson, while still relating to my content area.

I also enjoyed learning how to use Screencast-o-matic.  It was challenging to use at first, but after a couple of “trys” I was able to create a flip video on how to use Feedly.  This will be a great tool as I work towards a “flipped” classroom in the upcoming years.  One thing I would like to learn is how to make the transitions between takes look “smoother” so it seems more seamless to a viewer.

If I had more time, I would have worked on adding more examples to my student worksheet, for students to use as a guide.  I also think that with more time, I might have found another tool for the students to create an “On This Day in History” project.  While I think Blogger is a great way to start, I would have liked to have researched other tools that student could use to combine both content and technology.

Currently, I am unable to test this lesson since it is summer break.  However, I think this would be a good activity for my students to do early on in the year.  It will help introduce them to two new tools, while also getting them excited about the content.