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Technology has transformed a host of industries since its creation, specifically education. Yahoo reports that the global EdTech market projects to reach $181.3 billion by 2025, with a 16.1% average growth year-over-year. The numbers used to be much smaller, but the pandemic has called for the rapid adoption of smart classrooms and eLearning solutions, fueling the need for new online teaching-learning models.

Enabling distance learning

The 2020’s pandemic has led to a global need for distance learning technologies. And luckily, many educational tech tools were already in place—their capacity just needed extra adjusting to accommodate the volume of users. Software like Google Classroom and Adobe Connect aims to emulate the traditional classroom experience, with screen sharing features, virtual whiteboards, and even a chat room for students to interact with other students.

The activity has begun to be more inclusive for students with disabilities. Laura Nota, a professor at the Department of Applied Psychology at the University of Padova, shares how her school has ensured that teachers have the necessary assistive technology tools to even the playing field for their students with special needs. For instance, those with trouble hearing had the online stenotype service. It contained the transcriptions of all their classes.

Bridging the communication gap

Not every student is the same kind of learner, and those with special needs often require extra help keeping up with the lessons. Fortunately, technology is here to help with this aspect as well. Since 2012, the Lawrence school district in New York has been providing their students with free iPads and internet access to enrich their classroom experience. As a pathologist for the district and director of Maryville University’s speech therapy program, Meaghan Goodman has been taking advantage of this opportunity to help her young students communicate. Her department uses tablets that have been installed with videos, text-to-speech tools, and voice recognition apps, to help students understand and express their words better (see below video). In addition, AAC Apps( Augmented, Alternative, Communication) like Touch Chat and JABtalk can also facilitate communication for children with limited expressive language ability.

Immersing Students Through VR

Virtual reality (VR) has many applications from gaming to workplace training and education. VR technology is utilized in classrooms to increase student engage in learning and communication. A great example of this is Microsoft’s Immersive Reader—a collection of tools that help readers learn a new language. While it’s used in many English and other language classes, education reporter for the Syracuse Post-Standard and columnist for EdTech Magazine’s classroom beat, Micah Castelo, notes how this VR tool is also designed to support students with dyslexia and dysgraphia. In a space-like environment, the user can focus on pronouncing texts by the syllable.

Teachers have also used VR to conduct virtual field trips. An article on Good Housekeeping has listed over 40 trips you can consider taking your students on, such as the American Museum of Natural History, Bright Farms, and the Atlanta Zoo. Incidentally, VR is also a great way to add a change of scenery to your lessons.

Assisting With Reading:

Reading comprehension isn’t the easiest skill to teach, especially to excitable young kids. However, if the activity was made more interactive and enjoyable, they might be more willing to sit down and learn. Reading apps like Blake’s Reading Egg, FarFaria, and Epic are good assistants to start introducing to young children. They’re equipped with colorful pictures, audio feedback, and other features that can make reading more immersive. Bluebee Pals interactive learning tools connect to any smart device and assist with lessons by speaking the prompts or providing words of encouragement. A huggable plush companion that creates a reassuring and nurturing learning setting at home or school. Bluebee Pals pair with all apps offering unlimited access to special needs, reading, and educational apps promoting literacy and communication. Students watching sing-along or nursery rhymes apps or vidoes can enhance memory and recall at a faster pace. If you can find those accompanied by subtitles that can be ideal.http://bluebeepals.com

Helping Parents Stay Connected

Technology isn’t just used to help kids with their classroom activities—parents and guardians can use it to track their children’s progress too. Several types of software can help with this. One is ParentSquare—an app that streamlines the communication between parents, teachers, and administrators. Whether it’s school-wide announcements or personal remarks on students, ParentSquare ensures that parents and guardians are always in the loop. On the other hand, classroom management tools like Edmodo for Parents are there for easy access to student’s academic performance, from the scores of their tests to which subjects they need help with. For parents and guardians interested in providing supplementary help to their kids, especially if they have special needs, these tools can allow for collaborations with teachers to provide the best education possible.

Technology has created a diverse variety of educational tools, from helping students form sentences to allowing parents to be an active participants in their children’s academics.  

 

Exclusively Written for bluebeepals.com By Jessie Bugg

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