This and that…

September 21, 2007

More technology things…and some reflections.

Filed under: education,Post-secondary,Study skills,Technology,Vermont Tech — learningspecialist @ 5:16 pm

Math is always such a challenge in my life- for personal reasons:) -and because it can be very difficult to accommodate effectively. Extra time is easy, and use of a calculator is never such a big deal at the post-secondary level, but many of the students I work with have significant issues with their handwriting, and most of the computer programs available seem do almost too much of the work. Students who are enrolled in Algebra classes- and even those who are beginning Calculus- need to be able to show their work to the instructor- and the instructor needs to know that the work is in fact theirs- not the result of a few keystrokes. It is why those classes frequently have a “no calculator” section on tests and quizzes- so the instructor can see the student sort their way through the sequence of an equation without the distraction of actually solving for a variable. Process- not product more or less.

Finding software that is intuitively easy to use, contains enough symbols and sufficient formatting to get through college level math, be reasonably priced and will behave more or less as a pencil has been difficult. Until now! The folks at Efofex Software have developed a suite of programs designed to meet this need (I read about it on the Quality Indicators for Assisitve Technology listserv-a veritable wealth of information those folks are) and checked it out. I am impressed. The data entry is consistant with regular keyboarding but the formatting looks just like what you might write- and it allows the student to do- and show- their work.

Now, anyone may purchase this and use it. Qualiifed students with disabilities on the other hand, as long as someone certifies that they are indeed eligible- sort of like what I do with publishers for alternate format text- can download the program for free. I am going to start talking this up immediately!

Here is the link:

http://www.efofex.com/index.php

I hope people find it useful.

I have been teaching in Freshman Orientation classes for the past few weeks. I really like teaching- I am not sure what I would do if this were only an office/one:one sort of a job. I generally, at this time of year anyway, talk about study skills and test taking. I am a real fan of the Master Notebook system from Landmark College- or at elast the bones of it.  www.landmarkoutreach.org/documents/VenerMasterNotebook.pdf

I am not sure how ready first semester freshmen really are to organize themselves this way without a lot of support from their instructors, but I like to do it because then(aside from the charge I get from working with a group of students), when someone comes to me for help in this area, we at least have a common vocabulary to work with. We also talk more about goal setting- many freshmen- many students…- have not really ever had an internal mandate for getting things done and tend to rely on outside systems like parents and study halls. Makes a lot of sense but does not necessarily work at this level. Soooo… we talk about it a lot.

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