Choosing your own SoTL

Chose your own SoTL adventure. This was my task for my Adapting Innovative Technologies class; find scholarly articles that looked into an interest of mine and go on an adventure looking in the scholarship of teaching and learning. One thing that has seem to have fallen by the wayside in the later years of my teaching career has been the research component. Believe it or not I like to research, but as the paperwork demands of my job have increased, I have increasing relied on others to do the research for me.  I have been in the special education field for 8 years starting with the upcoming school year. The part of special education that has been a passion of mine from the beginning is assistive technology.  I have spent time exploring the topic but I haven’t taken a whole lot of time diving into the research behind assistive technology. As I began to research using the MSU Library, I found the process easier then in my prior graduate school experiences. Conducting searches was simple and not overwhelming. I like the setup of the MSU Library. I didn’t have to contact anyone, but that is not to say in the future I won’t. I am sure there are aspects of the MSU library that I have yet to discover.

Below are the five scholarly articles I chose to focus on for this blog post. There were many more I could have chosen, but these five represent what I am currently looking into and wanting to learn more about. Two are already on my must read for the upcoming school year.

Burgstahler, S. (2003). The role of technology in preparing youth with disabilities for postsecondary education and employment. Journal of Special Education Technology18(4), 7-20.

Preparing students for life after school is a challenge. Preparing for students with disabilities for life after high school provides a new set of challenges. The advancement of technology has allowed students with disabilities to access post secondary education in ways not done before. The challenge is students are not aware of how to use assistive technology beyond high school. This could be for several reasons, one being they were never taught how to use it while they were in the K-12 setting.  Having access to technology and knowing how to use it are two different things. The authors discuss the barriers to assistive technology, which include the lack of funding as well as teachers not having the knowledge to train students on assistive technology.  The authors cite the lack of trained professional to evaluate appropriate technology tools as another barrier to getting technology into the hands of students with disabilities.  In looking at this article, I think I have found my back to school read. Lots of information and am looking forward to learning more.

Edyburn, D. L. (2000). Assistive technology and mild disabilities. Mental retardation612, 10-6.

Assistive Technology has always been looked at for those who have Learning Disabilities and Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities. The 1997 reauthorization of IDEA requires assistive technology be considered for all students regardless of disability.  Edyburn goes through the definition of  LD, EBD and mild disabilities. Edyburn looks at technology that has the potential to enhance academic performance.  This article provides resources of technology tools that have the potential to enhance a student’s academic performance. It is a good resource that looks at how technology, if done right and not just to do it, can help a student in their academic studies. Edyburn goes into questions often raised by administrations and general education teachers who state providing assistive technology in the classroom is cheating, unfair to general education students and makes things easier for students with disabilities. This article, although shorter, provides the ground work for understanding mild disabilities and the role of assistive technology.

Michaels, C. A., & McDermott, J. (2003). Assistive technology integration in special education teacher preparation: Program coordinators’ perceptions of current attainment and importance. Journal of Special Education Technology,18(3), 29-44.

 In looking at research involving special education and assistive technology, a consistent theme has been the lack of preparation of the special education teacher in technology. In order to meet the needs of students with disabilities, special education teachers need to come out of their teacher preparation programs with more then knowledge of assistive technology. The authors address teacher preparation standards and how technology standards need to be addressed in those programs. Technology standard have been adopted by the Council for Exceptional Children and National Educational Technology Standards, the authors state these standards need to be consistent across all teacher preparation programs. There is a lot of information in this article and again it is a must read for any special education teacher or technology person.

Wilson, C. H., Brice, C., Carter, E. I., Fleming, J. C., Hay, D. D., Hicks, J. D., … & Weaver, J. (2011). Familiar Technology Promotes Academic Success for Students with Exceptional Learning Needs. Online Submission.

The more familiar a person is with something the more comfortable they will be using it. This is true when it comes to students with disabilities and their confront level with assistive technology.  This is a challenge for teachers and students alike as time is not available throughout the day to fully integrate assistive technology into the classroom. The authors go on to state that teachers need time to learn the technology in order to properly implement it into their classroom.  Further on in the research the authors discuss how technology can help students with disabilities become more independent both in the classroom and once they graduate. This is an article to dive more into for more information. The article did appear to be choppy, but it provides good information. It gives the reader ideas as to what technology matches well with certain types of disabilities. The lack of research in this area, however, makes it difficult to really dig deep into the effects of the use of familiar technology.

Wollak, B. A., & Koppenhaver, D. A. (2011). Developing technology-supported, evidence-based writing instruction for adolescents with significant writing disabilities. Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefits7(1), 1-23.

Writing can be a challenge for students regardless of their disability.  Language delays can affect a students ability to be able to write. There are students who struggle with getting their thoughts down on the paper, they have the ideas, but to get it from their brains to the paper is a struggle. Then there are the students who can articulate what they want to write, but struggle to get it written. This article caught my attention for that reason. There are tools out there to assist students who struggle with writing, but does the research support is always a lingering question.  Co-Writer, developed by Don Johnston, was a feature AT product. Johnston, himself, has a disability and has made it his mission to develop assistive technology specifically for students with disabilities. His products are widely used throughout the United States. Other technologies looked at were Animoto, Flixer, Voicethread and e-pal. Twitter was brought in as a blogging activity for students. This is the most comprehension research I have seen .It is a good paper that goes through the different disabilities and struggles with writing. It then takes the reader through the types of technology and looks at how they were used in the classroom. This is a definite must read for those looking for research in the area of writing and students with disabilities.

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