At LDA Windsor – Essex County we are very lucky to have a contract with the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) and the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) to provide training to students who receive adaptive technology equipment through a Special Equipment Amount (SEA) Claim.
In one of my past blog posts, Goose Bumps, I discussed how much I love introducing people with learning disabilities to adaptive technology (A/T).
However, the A/T field, just like technology in general, is quickly changing and evolving. Instead of using the typical laptops with a variety of A/T software installed, School Boards across the province of Ontario are trying alternatives, such as iPads and Chromebooks.
It is a very sad truth that many students were refusing to use their laptops. Many of them sat in closets, collecting dust. There are many reasons why…
- Many students are embarrassed to use their laptop because they do not want to appear different then their peers.
- Many of the laptops are very slow, especially when starting up.
- Some of the A/T software can be difficult to learn how to use. Students may stop using the laptop because they forget how to use software.
Here in Windsor-Essex, one of our school boards has switched to using iPads with students approved for SEA Claim equipment instead of laptops. I must admit, at first I was very hesitant. Could the iPad compare to what the existing A/T field offered? However, after several months of seeing the students use iPads instead of laptops, I’ve been convinced.
To answer my first question, “Could the iPad compare to what the existing A/T field offered?” The answer at this point is – No, but it is getting better every day. The apps that are available are great, and very beneficial for students with learning disabilities and ADHD.
The big downside to using iPads is that you cannot use more than one app at a time. With the current laptop technology, you could use multiple A/T software programs at one time. On the iPads, the students have to be able to transfer their work from one app to the next. Being able to print completed work is also another area of difficulty.
On the other hand, students LOVE their iPads. They want to use them, they are excited to use them, and their classmates want to partner with them, because they want to have the opportunity to use the iPad too. As we saw with the laptops, this is half the battle. The students we are training are using their iPads, and as a result the level of their work is increasing. At the end of the day, this is exactly what we want to see.
Have you tried using the iPad with students with learning disabilities and ADHD? What do you think? Do you prefer traditional A/T on the laptop or the iPad better?