I am often asked which apps or software programs I recommend for students with difficulty in specific learning areas such as reading, organization, self management, and attention. Technology is never a fix-all, but it really can transform the learning experience when students find an app or program that is a good fit for their needs. A good tech tool needs to be “user-friendly”, in terms of ease of access, graphic design, the system of navigation it employs, and the actual change in learning outcome it can facilitate for the student.
As an example of finding “best-fit” for apps and assistive technology, lets take a look at note-taking apps. Evernote is a fantastic organization tool, but for some students who have difficulty with visual attention or short term memory, it can be difficult to consistently tag notes, record notes, or save images to the app. This is not necessarily a shortcoming of the app itself, but an issue of “best fit” for the student. Similarly, notes apps such as notability are really incredible for versatility and creativity, but can be difficult to learn and get started with (though well worth that time spent!). More basic notes and list-maker apps that come preinstalled on iPads, iphones and other devices can be easier to consistently use and retrieve. Many students create google docs for note-taking, then organize their docs within Google folders, and -Voila!- they have notes that never get lost and are easily searchable. Again, the student who uses this strategy must be one who remembers to title their documents accurately, and takes the time to organize their Google Drive.
Our wonderful Tech in Education Director, Melissa Handy, shared the following tool finder with me recently: https://www.understood.org/en/tools/tech-finder
Tech finder assists students or their family members to find a tool for education that fits their needs. While it doesn’t have all the answers, it is a great place to start!
Another tech finder tool is the CALL Scotland App Wheel for learners with difficulties in reading, writing, or are dyslexic, The wheel displays useful Apple, Android, and PC desktop apps that help tremendously with reading fluency, comprehension, and organization of written work. As a visual learner, I love the organization of the wheel, and it has a lot of great offerings, particularly in the Mind Mapping section and the Writing category. Similarly, here is a Tech Finder wheel for learners on the Autism Spectrum. I appreciate that someone out there is creating social skill-builder apps and behavior reward system apps.
Please take a look at the links above, especially those for the App Finder Wheels, if you are searching for a best fit tech tool for you or your learner. As a school that embraces and promotes 21st century learning skills, we at Le Jardin Academy encourage our students to gather resources, find what works for them, and be informed of the ever changing ways that technology can be of assistance.