Adaptive Technology - Continued from Page 1
One of the most attractive lures of adaptive technology has to be its multi-sensory approach. If you think about the laborious task it can be sometimes to put pen to paper or if youve ever had to read an enormous amount of text you will understand why students who use adaptive technology might be more inspired to learn. The adaptive technology that we use at our centre was selected to help learners who have difficulty with visual processing, auditory processing and organization, mobility issues and individuals with visual and hearing impairments.
Some of the text reading software that we used in Phase One of our project includes Kurzweil 3000 v. 5.00, Read & Write 5.0 and ReadPlease 2002. Text readers help to interpret computerized text or text that has been scanned from a printed page, and then generate a voice that will read the text aloud to the user. We found in Phase One of our project that for individuals who had difficulty with reading because they were focusing so much on decoding, text readers were invaluable. Learners now had the ability to get immediate auditory feedback if they had difficulty with their comprehension and fluency. Text readers became invaluable tools for students with learning difficulties when used in conjunction with other technologies such as word prediction, word processing, and spell checking, since they allowed students to hear the words on the screen.
In Phase Two of our project the focus was on expressive writing. We found that a growing number of assistive software programs that surpass basic word processors are available to the user to support the writing process. Many of these software features are available with voice output. Spell checkers, dictionaries, and thesauruses are also available as features of some adaptive software programs, enabling the user to verify or correct spellings and access word definitions and synonyms.
Some other features of these programs are grammatical checks and proofreading functions which help the user to scan through a document and identify errors in grammar, word usage, structure, spelling, style, punctuation and capitalization. Word prediction is another feature of some adaptive software programs that helps to suggest words that one might be typing. Word prediction enables students to pay less attention to spelling, and at times the suggestions can even trigger the students ideas when they dont know what to say next. Some of the other adaptive software programs we are using for Phase 2 - Adaptive Technology and Expressive Writing are Kurzweil 3000, Word Q, Write:Outloud and Co- Writer.
Organizational software tools are available to writers who need help with organization and benefit from visually oriented systems of organizing. Pre-writing software programs in the form of semantic webs can help the writer get started with a writing assignment by organizing and brainstorming ideas. We use Draft:Builder and Inspiration 6 to assist our learners with writing and organization.
We have had much success with adaptive technology in our literacy program. Learners often comment about their accomplishments using adaptive technology. In the words of one of our learners, Reading and writing my own work, I never thought I could do it. We also have had several learners who thrive on the computer because they learn software very quickly. We have these learners working as peer tutors in the computer lab. It is a great motivator and selfesteem booster for these individuals.
A major component of our project is to be able to share the results of our work and make recommendations to peer practitioners both locally and throughout the province. We are working closely with researchers from CLLRNet (Canadian Literacy and Language Research Network) who will help to collaborate on a final report that will be available on our website in August 2003 at www.home.golden.net/~actionr. Learners involved in our project completed an attitudinal survey and written assessment previous to being introduced to the adaptive software. At the end of the project learners will again be surveyed and given the opportunity to use the adaptive software as an accommodation while completing a post-assessment.
If you have any questions about our project or are interested in visiting our centre to learn more about the way we are using adaptive technology in our literacy program, please do not hesitate to call me, Jennifer Hunt, Adaptive Technology Project Coordinator, Action Read Community Literacy Centre, 519-836-2759 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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