In the first of several videos with an inclusion and accessibility theme John Galloway considers some ways in which technology can support literacy. He considers tools that are in regular use by adults on an everyday basis as well as the writing process itself.
A transcript of the video is available here (or below).
Technology literally changes lives. It has made us more able to communicate, to create, to access information, to demonstrate our knowledge and understanding. And what is true for us is equally true for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
In the area of literacy, reading, writing, spelling, there are two particular ways in which it does this, and there is nothing particularly unusual about them either, because you and I are likely to be using most of these in our everyday lives.
The first is in the tools it enables us to use. When you are writing a text message you may well use a predictor to speed up your input. When you are driving you might listen to an audiobook. When you are walking along the street you might dictate a text message, or you might search for information using your voice.
Well all these are ways that children and young people who have challenges with literacy are able to use technology in the way that they work, too. The predictor that we use is the predictor that they could use. The text to speech and speech to text is just the same for them.
So one way is the tools it provides us with. The other is the processes.
When you are writing a document by hand there are a number of things you have to do simultaneously. You decide what it is you want to put down. You have to remember how to spell the words you are using,
you have to remember how to form the letters. And while you are remembering that, you also have to hang on to those words that you want to put down.
When you are using technology to write, say a word-processor, then you can stage that process and you can break it down into steps. The first one is to plan what you are going to write. You can create a mindmap for instance and allow it to structure your piece of work, or you could record what you want to say and use a voice note.
After planning the next part of the process is to transcribe, that’s literally getting the words down. With a keyboard, the letters are given, you just have to find them. Or you might use your voice, or you might use a predictor to help you get those words down.
The next step is to edit. That is, to amend. To look at the technical things like spelling and grammar and check that you have got the words in the right order. Now here you could use a spell checker, you could use the text to speech to listen to what you’ve written so that you know that it actually says what you think it says, and eventually you mould it into the piece of work that you want to represent what you want to say.
And then finally, the last stage, is that you publish it. This could be simply by printing it, or it could be putting it on a blog so that the whole world can see it. Generally, for children it is their teachers, their peers, their parents that will see that piece of work. But it literally could be, anybody anywhere.
So we can take these powerful resources, these tools, these methods, these processes, and by using them with children and young people we can help them to meet the challenges that they are facing when it comes to reading, writing and spelling, and help them to demonstrate their own creativity. Help them to Communicate what it is they want to say. To show what they know.
There is every reason why we should be putting these powerful tools in the hands of pupils. The tools that we ourselves use, all the time, everyday.