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As High-Tech Teaching Catches On, Students With Disabilities Can Be Left Behind


Credit to James F Clay


In our digital day and age learning is an opportunity granted to almost everyone. The internet has given us a medium of information transfer that can touch millions of people, anyone can learn anything now. These advancements in learning have been adapted to the college classroom in many ways as well–teachers will use videos, PDF documents of texts, as well as devices like Clickers to further their student’s understanding of the topics addressed in class.

But this can prove to be a difficult feat for those who are disabled.

In an article on the Chronicle of Higher Education, by Casey Fabris, the issues of discrimination against those with disabilities in the classroom is examined.

Students who are blind or deaf are having difficulty gaining access to resources that are offered to their other classmates. One instance of this is the flipped classroom model that many classes are adapting, assigning students videos to watch or texts to read outside of class then coming prepared to discuss them. Unfortunately closed captioning on all videos is only just starting to emerge. Many people are making an effort on sites like YouTube to close caption their videos, but sadly most still aren’t. This leaves behind students who have disabilities, and in some cases professors just excuse them from the assignment, leaving them out of a great learning opportunity.

There have been numerous lawsuits against Universities who have failed to supply their students with proper materials to perform their duties in class. Things like PDF documents being incompatible with their reading software, videos without closed captioning, and the lag time between translation of questions and students using clickers have all been issues that people with disabilities have to deal with.

This is an issue that continues to plague many campuses, sadly leaving many students behind. Many universities are fighting back against this, doing everything they can to accommodate those who need help, but the issue still persists. There needs to be more of an effort to include everyone in classroom activities, and one good way to start would be to spread the word of this problem.

For more information on this topic visit the link above.

Using Clickers to Enhance Student Learning

Research has shown that clickers (which can be used to for quick polling or question-and-answer sessions) are an effective way to enhance student learning in a wide variety of disciplines. For instance, this study done at the University of Alberta, Edmond showed that the majority of students strongly indicated that the use of clickers enhanced their learning experience (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bmb.20264/pdf).

Uses for clickers at UW Bothell and elsewhere have ranged from engaging students in larger classes to opening up discussions on controversial topics to checking for comprehension in classes. If you’re interested in seeing more research and articles on clickers, The Vanderbilt Center for Teaching maintains an extensive bibliography (see http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/docs/classroom-response-system-clickers-bibliography/).

At Bothell, we use the Turning Point system from Turning Technologies as our clicker system. The clickers can be used in any room with an epodium and can be done with existing or new PowerPoint presentations or other applications as well. There are a couple of options if you’re interested in using clickers for your courses.

  1. If you want to try out the clickers and/ or plan on using them only a couple times during the quarter, the IT Helpdesk has 4 total sets available for checkout, each with 48 clickers and 1 receiver. These sets are reservable on a first come, first served basis by contacting it@uwb.edu or 425-352-3456. Three sets circulate for 2 business days and 1 set can circulate for 7 days. If you check out a set, you will only be able to do anonymous polling.
  2. If you would like to use the clickers on a more regular basis, you can have your students buy clickers by requesting that the UW Bookstore order them for your class similar to a textbook order. The course instructor can check out just the receiver from the IT helpdesk for the duration of the quarter. If you have your students buy clickers, you will be able to use the clickers for quizzes since each clicker will be associated with a student. You will still be able to do anonymous polling as well. Students pay about $48 for the clicker.

You can find more information about using clickers at http://www.uwb.edu/learningtech/clickers including some best practices for using clickers.

16 Suggestions for Teaching with Classroom Response Systems

1. Consider the following questions when drafting clicker questions:

* What student learning goals do I have for the question?

* What do I hope to learn about my students by asking this question?

* What will my students learn about each other when they see the results of this question?

* How might this question be used to engage students with course content in small-group or classwide

discussions or by creating a time for telling?

* What distribution of responses do I expect from my students?

* What might I do if the actual distribution turns out very differently?

2. Look for answer choices for potential clicker questions in student responses to open-ended questions, ones asked on assignments in previous courses, on homework questions, or during class. This can lead to answer choices that better match common student misconceptions and perspectives.


Using Classroom Clickers To Engage Every Student

Using Classroom Clickers To Engage Every Student
Linda Briggs

In this interview, a writer for the Campus Technology magazine interviews professor Edna Ross about how she uses clickers and what benefits they bring to her classroom. Edna points out, “With clickers, you’re giving every student a voice, even the introverts.” See the link below for the full interview!

Link: http://www.campustechnology.com/articles/67903/

7 Things You Should Know About Clickers

Interaction and engagement are often limited by class size and human dynamics (a few students may dominate the conversation while most avoid interaction). Interaction and engagement, both important learning principles, can be facilitated with clickers. Clickers can also facilitate discipline-specific discussions, small work-group cooperation, and student-student interactions. Clickers—plus well-designed questions—provide an easy-to-implement mechanism for enhancing interaction. Clicker technology enables more effective, more efficient, and more engaging education.

Link: http://www.educause.edu/node/156805