Monthly Archives: November 2014

Accessibility Features on My Computer

Here are the assistive technologies I found on my computer which has the Windows 7 Home Premium operating system.

If you go to the start menu, then control panel, then Ease of Access Center, you will find the following options:

  1. Start Magnifier – This immediately magnifies everything on the computer screen. This is an excellent feature for someone who has lost vision, but not completely.
  2. Start On-Screen Keyboard – This allows someone to use the mouse to type if they are limited in fine-motor skills and have trouble typing on the regular keyboard. The regular keyboard appears on the computer screen then the mouse can select the keyboard buttons.
  3. Start Narrator – This reads everything on the screen out loud for someone who is completely blind. When pressing the tab key, you can just go through and have the hyperlink read to you.
  4. Set up High Contrast – This increases the contrast of colors so the screen is easier to read for someone with limited vision.

“Physical disabilities typically affect a person’s mobility and agility. Difficulties with motor movements may involve gross- or fine-motor movement and frequently exist concurrently with other disabilities” (Roblyer, 2013). In the ease of use menu are additional setting combinations suggested to make the computer easier to use for certain disabilities, especially physical and sensory disabilities. “Sensory disabilities involve impairments associated with the loss of hearing or vision” (Roblyer, 2013).

  1. Optimize for Blindness – Here you can turn on the features needed if you are blind such as the narrator, audio description of video displays, and turn off animations that cannot be seen.
  2. Optimize the Visual Display – This option opens all the ways to modify the computer is vision is present but limited such as high contrast, the narrator, audio description, and the magnifier. Additionally, there is an option to make the blinking cursor bigger, as well as to remove animations and background images that are distracting and make the screen harder to read.
  3. Set Up Alternative Input Devices – The options listed here adjust the computer settings for someone who has a more severe physically disability and has limited or no use with their hands. It suggests using the on-screen keyboard but also offers speech recognition to avoid using the mouse and keyboard altogether. Then the computer user can speak into a microphone to use the computer.
  4. Adjust Settings for the Mouse of Other Pointing Devices – For someone with fine-motor skill difficulties or limited vision, this adjusts the mouse setting to make it bigger, more contrasting, or use the the keyboard to move the mouse instead.
  5. Adjust Settings for the Keyboard – This menu has additional options for someone with limited fine-motor skills. You can again choose the setting to control the mouse with the numerical keyboard arrows, as well as change the shortcut key combos such that you can press one at a time instead of at the same time. Here you can turn on toggle keys, filter keys, underline keyboard shortcuts and access keys.
  6. Set Up Alternatives for Sounds – This features will help someone with a hearing disability. You can turn on visual notifications for sound notifications as well as text caption for spoken dialog.
  7. Adjust Settings for Reading and Typing – The computer setting adjustments in this menu help someone stay on task better. “Mild [cognitive] disabilities are considered to be the most prevalent type of disability” (Roblyer, 2013). These would be great options for a student with a cognitive disability such as ADD. To stay focused the suggestions include turn on the narrator and remove background images and animations.

Ease of Access Screen Shot

References

Roblyer, M. D. & Doerling, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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Filed under AECT Standard 2.4

Obstacles and Solutions for Integrating Technology into Math

Obstacle 1

Completing math on the computer is still not efficient. Trying to have students type math on the computer slows them down significantly. Using a smart board in high school math classes is also not efficient as the symbols written do not always translate correctly therefore there is a lot of redoing over and over again. The complexities of typing math therefore distracts from the mathematical learning process as students are required to think more about how to present the math instead of thinking about the logic behind completing the math. Until typing math symbols becomes more efficient, having students complete math tests and homework with older technology such as the pencil is still more effective, for now.

Solution 1

I am not sure there is a solution for how to help students complete math homework and tests solely on the computer. There is something to be said about writing out the steps to solve math problems. It isn’t about the writing itself so much as it is about the thinking process. By having students type their solutions, the focus becomes about how to do the typing rather than thinking about solving the math. This is an example where technology does not enhance the curriculum but makes it more difficult. Therefore, for daily work and tests, it is still easier for students to use the modern day pencil.

Any technological solution has to allow students to be focused on the math process rather than the presentation process. Writing with a pencil for students is second nature, therefore they just write what they think. In order for technology to replace pencil and paper, it will also have to be something that is second nature to students. Currently, math teachers can use programs such as Microsoft Equation Editor or Math Type. Although the programs allow for excellent presentations of math symbols, the process is tedious as you have to constantly insert objects. Then to modify you have to exit and re-enter the word processing document. It would be much more efficient if a math symbol keyboard was introduced that includes a math symbol shift key like Caps Lock. If a standardized keyboard was introduced such as the ANSI keyboard used in the US today, this would help mathematics move from paper and pencil to computer based homework and testing.

keyboard pic

Obstacle 2

Higher level math computer based activities; there just is not much out there to use once a teacher teaches math beyond Algebra 2. More activities need to be developed for Pre-Calculus and all of Calculus. There is some activity material to access for the beginning of calculus, but once students have been introduced to the basics of the derivative and integral, there is not much more to choose from. There still has not been much developed to use for classroom discovery beyond basic calculus. Discovery at this level of math is extremely time consuming. The discovery and development of higher level calculus took centuries therefore scaffolding an activity for students to experience some of the discovery techniques is mandatory. Otherwise, direct instruction lecture to introduce calculus material continues to be more efficient.

Solution 2

Software developers need to start talking to high school calculus teachers and college professors about what technology can be developed to enhance higher level mathematics. Well designed technology software could really open up the discovery process for calculus students. This ability for students to learn math in a discovery setting, when appropriate, can teach students how to really think about math, not just do math. By having students think more about the applications of calculus techniques, it can lead to future inventions and more technological advancements in the future. Plus, it will create future employees who can really think and help companies improve.

 References

The Glossary of Education Reform (2014). 21st century skills. Created by The Great Schools Partnership. Retrieved from http://edglossary.org/21st-century-skills/

Roblyer, M. D. & Doerling, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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Filed under AECT Standard 2.4

Relative Advantage of Technology in Math

To make math class more engaging and relevant, classroom teachers should be integrating technology into the classroom. Especially in math and science courses because professionals who require the use of these topics “cannot do their jobs without technology tools” (Roblyer, 2013). As such, high school students preparing for college and careers must be introduced to technological tools as part of their well-rounded high school experience. We should be preparing students with these skills to tackle whatever they choose to pursue after high school.

Another relative advantage to incorporate technology tools in the math classroom is to enhance and quicken student learning. Tools such as graphing calculators, Geometer’s sketchpad (GSP) and spreadsheet software, allow students to learn material beyond the basics. Instead of continuing to plot every point, as learned in elementary and middle school, high school students can quickly graph more complex rational or trigonometric functions then dive into higher level cognitive skills such as analyzing the graph.

Likewise, when learning constructions in geometry class, more complex constructions can be created on GSP. This allows students to obtain more precise results and eliminate human errors that prevent many students from seeing a pattern. For example, when students construct a point of concurrency like an incenter, it can be difficult to achieve precise results and see that the three angle bisectors do meet at a single point. Technology makes it quicker to see and analyze the results.

Another example is using graphing calculators and spreadsheets in AP Statistics class. To analyze a large amount of data can be time consuming and tedious if students must plot every point by hand. Instead students can put the data into a spreadsheet, then have technology plot all the points. Now students can spend more time analyzing the features of the scatter plot and even using the data to make inferences about the data.

Technology can also allow students to communicate better about mathematics. If every student has a calculator and a task to complete, a small group setting can promote social interaction (Roblyer, 2013) and discussion about the results found on the calculator. Allowing students to work on technology in small groups also encourages students to ask each other for assistance. Working together in teams, asking questions, answering questions and helping each other is vital as outlined by 21st Century Skills.

One last relative advantage to mention involves students and building their basic math skills. Sometimes students reach high school and have gaps in their mathematical understanding. Some students have been seriously ill, have attended an abundance of different schools, or perhaps did not understand a basic math skill after the first introduction. Students that have math gaps in high school tend to struggle immensely. “Computer-based tutoring systems for mathematics have been available for some time” (Roblyer, 2013). Programs such as Aleks can help students find and fill those gaps. These type of programs are more efficient in finding those gaps, providing a tutorial and assessing the new learning than what a regular classroom teacher can do. These type of programs can be an amazing technology tool for students as well as reopen doors to opportunity when these students move forward to college and careers.

References

The Glossary of Education Reform (2014). 21st century skills. Created by The Great Schools Partnership. Retrieved from http://edglossary.org/21st-century-skills/

Roblyer, M. D. & Doerling, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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Filed under AECT Standard 2.4