Ministry of Education
Provincial and Demonstration Schools Branch

Amethyst

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Computer Technology

Understanding the use of computer technology is key to its successful use and implementation. This technology is divided into two categories, software and hardware. Software exists for a variety of purposes. Ultimately you want to match student needs with the appropriate software.

General Advantages Of Computer Use:

  • Highly motivational
  • Can hold the attention of those students who have difficulty with focus
  • Non-threatening
  • Word processing skills address fine motor difficulties and spelling difficulties
  • Voice capabilities provide text to voice and voice to text support
  • Helps organize information and allows for text manipulation without copying
  • Allows students to produce excellent quality assignments (graphs, reports, maps) and reinforces the value of student published work
  • Helps organize information and allows for text manipulation without copying
  • Allows students to produce excellent quality assignments (graphs, reports, maps) and reinforces the value of student published work
  • Allows for the development of research skills
  • Drill and practice tasks can be less monotonous and fun
  • Accessibility keys allow for modifications
  • Is a functional skill to be used in all areas
  • Provides structure
  • Gives immediate feedback

Key Considerations:

  • Assess users’ needs and strengths
  • Develop learning objectives
  • Understand the software
  • Match appropriate software to student needs

Types of Software

Drill and Practice

This was the first use of the computer in education. Drill and practice software allow students to practice skills previously taught in class.

Diagnostic

This computer software diagnoses a learning level of a particular skill.

Instructive

The computer software trains specific skills or content.

Assistive

Assistive software is a compensatory tool that allows students to perform a task on the computer that they ordinarily have difficulty with, typically reading and writing. Assistive software circumvents decoding and encoding so that students are able to work in content areas without struggling with the reading and writing in those subjects.

The mere fact that technology exists does not guarantee its effective use.

Key Issues in the Effective Use of Technology

Accessibility

  • Funding
  • Cost
  • Availability of technology
  • Physical location

Implementation

  • Staff training
  • Technical support
  • Willingness to learn new technologies
  • Time

Fairness

  • Be ready to establish an environment where fairness is not that everyone gets the same thing, but everyone gets what they need .

Motivation

  • Key is to find a personally meaningful solution to a student’s difficulty
  • Instructors need to see the value of a particular computer application
  • Issues of learned helplessness

Selecting The Best Technology

The Individual

  • Determine the student’s specific difficulty.
  • Do you need technology that will compensate, train, drill, decode, encode, etc.?
  • Identify student strengths and recognize that some software capitalizes on these strengths.
  • Include the student and his/her interest and comfort level with the computer.

Software

  • Examine the software and assess its purpose.
  • Ask for demo copies or trial versions of software in order to learn it for yourself and assess its suitability to perform the task for which it is intended. This will also give you an opportunity for the student to use the software.

Technology Match

  • Ideally you want to match the first two steps.
  • Once implemented, continue to assess the suitability of the software and its effectiveness.
  • Observe ease of use and intervene when necessary.

Implementation

  • Be sure to include training for staff.
  • Establish an environment where differences are accepted.
  • Provide mentorship with staff who are comfortable with the technology.

Hardware

  • The hard drive required will depend on the number of programs, the size of those programs and the number of users.
  • Use a good microphone headset. A noise canceling microphone is needed to run voice recognition.
  • Use a good quality sound card.
  • Some software is available in MAC and PC versions. You just have to be sure to ask for the correct version.
  • Most programs are available in French and English versions. Again, be sure to ask for the correct version.

Technology, Tips and Tricks

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