Faculty Spotlight

Terry Sader

Using Technology to Help Our Students with Disabilities

Introduction to Logic can be a difficult class for a freshman/sophomore student under the best of circumstances and this Spring 2015 semester has proven no different. In answer to the students’ struggles with some of the more challenging material, I offered formal exam reviews for any interested students from my lecture and online classes. Although the attendance for these special review sessions was unexpectedly low (only about a dozen students per session), one of my online students with a disability that prevented him from coming to campus requested that there be some way to still participate. Since I am, by no means, technologically proficient and so could not offer my own solution, the matter was turned over to the online department and their technological expertise.

The Instructional Technology Specialists came up with a solution that was both effective and innovative (not to mention, kind of fun to use). Initially, a laptop computer with Zoom software and a small external video camera was set up in the classroom to capture my whiteboard presentation and explanation of the kinds of test questions and problem-solving the students would encounter on the exam. The screen on the laptop allowed me to see both what the student was seeing at home and also the student, himself. The student with the disability was then able to access my presentation with the capacity to ask questions along with the students in the room. Furthermore, the software allowed for recording the review session so it could be used on other occasions. The feedback from the student was very positive and appreciative of our efforts. The only real challenge with this solution was the necessity to occasionally have to stop and re-position the camera as I made my way across the whiteboard. For the next exam review, another solution was developed. An iPad was secured to a motorized unit that swiveled on a tri-pod placed at the front of the room. To keep me and my board presentation in view at all times, I wore a small sensor that the motorized unit followed as I made my way across the white board. The unit was easily fast enough to keep up with me and the iPad would automatically focus and adjust for the movement. Again, the presentation was recorded for possible later use.

Anyone who knows me can attest to my resistance to the use of technology for technologies’ sake. However, I am truly grateful when we can offer such solutions to help students overcome their unique challenges to achieving success. This was one of those opportunities and I hope others will consider such solutions when our students’ challenges surpass the typical solutions or options.