Course Outline

Note: the Summer 2022 course outline is shown below.  An updated Winter 2023 outline will be posted in late 2022.

AT4LD comprises 10 learning modules (roughly one per week):

  1. Course overview and defining assistive technology
    - Learning objectives, syllabus, and projects (see below)
    - Tools to support you as a learner in this course
    - Learning Differences and the 1-in-5
    - Assistive Technology defined

  2. Key AT Concepts on which course is based
    - AT is always tied to function, not disability (correlate functional obstacles and technology features)
    - AT solutions are more than just technology (components of an effective "AT solution")
    - AT works best in accessible learning environments (Universal Design for Learning and Accessible Educational Materials)

  3. Tools for Processing and Memory
    - Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and sensory processing
    - Memory retention and retrieval
    - Working memory and concept formation

  4. Tools for Reading
    - Decoding and fluency
    - Comprehension and vocabulary
    - Critical thinking and reasoning

  5. Tools for Written Expression
    - Motor aspects of writing
    - Composition and writing organization
    - Vocabulary and word choice
    - Mechanics (spelling, grammar, editing, etc.)

  6. Tools for Math
    - Calculation and fluency
    - Notation and alignment
    - Understand concepts
    - Word problems
    - Procedural and problem-solving

  7. Tools for Notetaking and Study
    - Capturing new learning in class, from reading, and elsewhere
    - Organizing and applying new learning

  8. Tools for Attention and Executive Functioning
    - Attention and self-regulation
    - Organization and memory management
    - Planning and productivity
    - Cognitive flexibility and self-monitoring

  9. Creating an assistive technology plan (see Project #2, below)
    - Course participants apply their knowledge of AT tools, strategies, and implementation factors to create an AT Consideration & Implementation Plan for an assigned hypothetical student
    - Plans posted to course website for review by others in course

  10. Online discussion of participant-created AT plans (see Project #2, below)

There is also a "Module R" (References, Resources, & Review) for use throughout the course which includes:

  • Overview of laws relevant to assistive technology
  • State Tech Act Programs & AT Device Loans
  • Overview of tools for other selected disabilities you may encounter
    - Visual and hearing impairments, alternative computer/device access, augmentative/alternative communication
  • Background info on learning differences for those who need to brush up on the "Skills Needed" for this course
    - Per the course prerequisites: "...basic understanding of the academic challenges faced by individuals who have learning disabilities, ADHD, and executive function issues."

Instruction for AT4LD is primarily online and asynchronous (self-paced) – comprehensive reading material with diagrams, videos, photos, tables, and links to additional web-based resources, plus self-guided hands-on activities and threaded discussion topics.  Live weekly Zoom sessions of up to 90 minutes supplement the online instruction and coursework with class discussion, technology assistance, and other interactive learning. (see Schedule tab for details).  All instruction is delivered through Canvas, UCSC Extension's Online Classroom platform.  Most Zoom sessions can be attended live or viewed later as a recording.


Students will work on two major projects throughout the course.

Project #1: Function-Feature Journal

A key element of this course will be hands-on activities to better understand how selected technology features address specific functional learning needs. (A feature is an aspect of a tool that provides the user with a specific functional capability to help bypass a functional obstacle – e.g., text-to-speech adds the ability to listen to digital text spoken aloud as well as read it visually.) Using a variety of tool features in the context of performing certain academic tasks, as students would, will provide a greater appreciation of realities concerning tool selection, training, implementation, and application strategies.

Course participants will explore at least two features of their choice for each of Modules 4-8 and maintain a Function-Feature Journal (FFJ) where they will record their user experiences and insights (instructor will provide templates to facilitate FFJ entries).  The Function-Feature Journal will become a useful professional resource later.

Project #2: Assistive Technology Consideration and Implementation Plan

Midway through the course, each participant will be provided with details about a hypothetical student – their functional abilities and limitations, the nature of their curriculum (instructional methods, materials, goals, and assessment), their learning environments at school and at home, and their current academic challenges.  Each course participant will create an AT consideration and implementation summary (aka "AT Plan") to address one significant functional obstacle for their hypothetical student – technology solutions to consider, how to implement and evaluate those solutions, and other factors.  (The instructor will provide everyone with an AT Plan template based on a decision-making framework described during the course.)

In "live" online sessions during the final week of the course, we will discuss anonymized versions of these AT Plans as a group – or more appropriately, a "team" – asking questions, offering feedback, and making suggestions to improve each AT plan.  (We may hold two different online sessions during week #10 to best meet everyone's schedule.)