TechAbility Assistive Technologist Neil Beck uncovers key insights from visiting colleges and helping them use technology to improve outcomes for learners.
While working at TechAbility, a Natspec service that aims to help FE providers introduce and make effective use of assistive technology for their staff and learners, we have identified several key themes that have shaped our understanding of improving AT outcomes in SEND provision. We have had the chance to visit a number of colleges and centres; one of the interesting elements we’ve identified is the importance of “soft skills.” We were pleasantly surprised with the feedback we had for a webinar focusing on the staff who might be reluctant or nervous to use technology. So, how can we explore this further?
Soft skills and good communication are critical. I am reminded of a particular day when I had a short amount of time to check up on a student using dictation technology and introduce a grammar tool for two other students. With the limited time I had, my first instinct was to tell the dictation user what they were doing wrong and then quickly dive into showing the technology for the other two students without further interaction. What would the outcome have been?
Well the student using their voice would have likely felt demotivated and less likely to use the technology; it would have been a real shame not to celebrate and encourage a method they were making real progress with. For the other two students it would have been a missed opportunity to assess their understanding first and again, to make the use of technology a positive experience rather than a daunting one.
It’s why we should always choose to focus on the individual first, rather than the technology. Solutions that work on paper often hit serious barriers because we miss that person-centred approach.
Given that resilience and enjoyment are key factors in using technology effectively, how much should we be focusing on these elements? Should TechAbility deliver a webinar on these subjects? I’d love to hear your stories and what you think. Do get in touch and please feedback your thoughts on the current webinars available on the TechAbility webinar channel.