Week 2 analysis by 1tjy8J

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									Karen Campbell
ECOMP 5007
Week 2
Review of article
June 15, 2005

Behrmann, Michael and Marci Kinas Jerome. “Assistive Technology for Students with Mild Disabilities:
Update 2002.” ERIC DIGEST. January 2002. < http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-1/assistive.htm >.


          This article gave a brief overview of the assistive technologies that can be helpful in the area of special
needs. It was a good beginning for one new to the field and appropriate to the types of cases which may be found at a
small, private international school for college bound students. Behrmann refers to Lahn and Morissette’s (1994) 1
areas in which assistive technology is pertinent and further explains 6 of those areas in detail. The six are: 1)
organization, 2) note taking, 3) writing, 4) academic productivity, 5) access to reference and educational materials,
and 6) cognitive assistance.
          Poor organization skills will hold a student back from performing their best work. Programs that allow
students to keep organized show them ways to sort and categorize information logically and effortlessly. They help
students produce work in an organized and neat format. Programs such as Word for outlining or Kidspiration or
Inspiration for mapping concepts are used by many schools as prewriting strategies. Arguable, these tasks could be
performed on a paper and pencil method by most students, but for others getting the organization of their work into a
format that is visually helpful to them is easier said than done and could detracts from the usefulness of the activity.
Using technology, students are able to manipulate information, group and organize it in a manually with the click of a
mouse or a simple drag and drop method. This makes the information become more meaningful as the formatting
becomes an easier task, thereby putting more students on a level playing field when it comes to organization.
          Students with mild difficulties, say for example, poor motor skills, will find the mere task of copying off the
board a chore. Some are not able to transfer this information as quickly or accurately as others and lose the benefit of
review notes. Ways to assist these students using the copying of notes, recording of lectures, either video or audio,
and the use of more portable devices will help the student for whom the act of writing gets in the way of the actual
content production. The particular implementation of a Smart Board by teachers, who later save and print the notes
they put on the board, can be vital to a student’s success in lecture type classes.
          Technologies that assist in the writing process are able to aide students mainly in the area of mechanics. As
this is only one of the areas of assessing writing, it is valid and appropriate for a student to be able to access
technology which assists with spelling, punctuation, grammar. It is if the students were to have at their disposal, an
individual teacher to give the necessary feedback so they can immediately learn how to correct their own mistakes.
Students using word processing programs for writing are better able to focus on the content, organization, and
creativity of their work, rather than spending valuable time glued to a dictionary.
          Overall, this article provided a fine foundation for a teacher new to the field of assistive technology. In
addition, the article discussed three different levels of technology in several of the area, “no tech, low tech and high
tech.” Instructors of special needs students and classroom teachers have been trained and have practiced the no tech
strategies for years, and the authors help those who are not as familiar with technology to see the related assistive
advances. Each individual area of technology application, as well as each the devices or programs themselves, should
have devoted to it a further in-depth discussion.
          What I was most struck with in Behrmann and Jeromes’s article was the applicability of the
learning/instructional methods to not only special needs students but to all students. Good technological resources
and uses for special needs students are the same as those for mainstreamed students. Any teacher reading this article
would find examples of what he or she considers “best practices” and uses on a regular basis. I know that many of
these areas are addressed in the Lower School Technology Curriculum at my school and should be made further
available to those students who can most benefit from their application. This involves money to purchase additional
devices, time to instruct on their usefulness, and the willingness on the part of teachers to see these modifications as
truly useful and helpful to students with special needs.




1
 Lahm, E., & Morrissette, S. (1994, April). Zap 'em with assistive technology. Paper presented at
the annual meeting of The Council for Exceptional Children, Denver, CO.

								
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