The Spring 2021 course outline is shown below. A slightly-revised Winter 2022 course outline will be posted in late fall 2021.
AT4LD comprises 10 learning modules (roughly one per week):
- Course overview
- 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
- Key AT Concepts on which course is based
- AT is always tied to function, not disability (connecting functional obstacles to 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)
- Tools for Processing and Memory
- Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and sensory processing
- Memory retention and retrieval
- Working memory and concept formation
- Tools for Reading
- Decoding and fluency
- Comprehension and vocabulary
- Critical thinking and reasoning
- Tools for Written Expression
- Motor aspects of writing
- Composition and writing organization
- Vocabulary and word choice
- Mechanics (spelling, grammar, editing, etc.)
- Tools for Math
- Calculation and fluency
- Notation and alignment
- Understand concepts
- Word problems
- Procedural and problem-solving
- Tools for Notetaking and Study
- Capturing new learning in class, from reading, and elsewhere
- Organizing and applying new learning
- Tools for Attention and Executive Functioning
- Attention and self-regulation
- Organization and memory management
- Planning and productivity
- Cognitive flexibility and self-monitoring
- 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
- Online discussions 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
- Selected local, national, and online resources for AT information, equipment, services, and options for professional development
- Overview of tools for other selected disabilities you may encounter
- Examples: 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."
The course is largely asynchronous (self-study) comprising reading materials, videos, self-guided activities with selected tools, and threaded discussion groups. Live weekly Zoom sessions provide opportunities for class discussion and interactive learning (see Schedule tab for details). I plan to post materials in Canvas so that students can explore 1-2 modules ahead of the current week.
Students will work on two major projects throughout the course.
Project #1: Function-and-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 various 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. Participants will maintain a function-&-feature journal that will become a useful professional resource later.
The Function-Feature Journal plays an important role in Modules 3 through 8.
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. As participants learn about and discuss tools throughout this course, they will make notes about possible technology solutions for their hypothetical student, how to implement and evaluate those solutions, and other factors to consider.
Toward the end of the course (weeks 9 and 10), each participant will create an AT consideration and implementation summary (using a template provided by the instructor) and post this to the AT4LD Canvas website for other students to review. In "live" online sessions during the final week of the course, we will discuss these summaries 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. Dates and times for these sessions will be determined by course participants.)