Learning has gone through different periods of time with a lot of changes that have enhanced it and made it to become interactive each and every day. There are various key components that have been introduced in learning as a strategy of guaranteeing that students learn easily and are able to retain much of what they are taught in class. One of the components that have been introduced as a learning strategy is the use of technology. There are many types of technological innovations that have been introduced in the market, that are tailored in such a way that they are able to meet the learning requirements of both teachers and students. Among these pieces of technology is the assistive technology. This research paper will focus on Boardmakers as one of the assistive technology that is employed today in the learning environment.
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Research Finding and Discussion
A Boardmaker is an assistive technology that is used for literal support and communication. This program can be utilized to create boards of communication. Boardmakers are used to meet specific requirements that arise among children and adults with special needs in classrooms. These include both children and adults with disabilities such as cerebral palsy. Similarly, Boardmakers can be employed in situations where the a person has learning disabilities and therefore requires technological tools to boost this person’s ability to learn and thus help one to develop normally like any other person in the society. Similarly, this device can be used while teaching students with mental disabilities, visual problems, Seizures, communication problems, auditory problems, and likely impairments of other (The State of Queensland, Department of Education and Training).
While it has been assumed that learning takes place in schools alone, this is not the case. Therefore, these devices can also be used in hospitals and other medical environment in teaching patients certain skills that are necessary not only for their recovery, but also as a boost to their lives as they live in the community. Among the common medical staff who use Boardmakers while dealing with patients are therapists and psychologists.
This device works by displaying pictures and symbols in a learning environment. For example, while teaching in class, the teacher can be able to program this device to integrate words into images and pictorials thus enabling the students to relate what he/she sees on the boardmakers and what they are being taught at that time. Alternatively, the instructor can load into this device his own images and symbols to customize the output of this program. This is based on the fact that a Boardmaker has been created in a way that allows teachers and other people who utilizes the services of this software to create images, pictures, symbols, etc that are suited for the needs of their student thus eliminating the issue that requires teachers to adapt their learning environments to the functions of this device. Instead, these functions are adapted to a particular learning environment in order to meet the needs of that learning setting. Alternatively, the database of a Boardmaker has close to 4,500 Picture Communication Symbols, PCS, which can be used to teach the students (DynaVox Mayer-Johnson).
The boardmakers are developed by different companies around the world. However, the first to created the boardmaker was named Mayer-Johnson. This company is based in California. Similarly, another company that works on producing assistive software such as boardmaker is Don Johnston, Inc, that is based in Illinois. Both companies are based in the United States of America. However, these are not the only companies that make this device. Other companies have joined and are now producers of Boardmaker. These include Intellikeys, Overlay Maker, and IntelliTalk, based also in California, USA (Wrobel, 2003, p.242). Different kinds of Boardmaker have different prices, mostly based on the features that a Boardmaker has. For example, Boardmaker Plus V6 retails at $329, Boardmaker-Plus-Player, 5-pack costs $784 while Boardmaker-Plus-Player, single copy trades for $84 (Technology for Education).
This device is able to work on computer under different environments. These include the Windows and Macintosh environments. Since this is a computer program, it can only work on an electronic device such as a computer. Therefore, electricity is needed to power the electronic device for it to be able to work. There are other devices that have been developed that can be able to run the Boardmaker program. These include the Boardmaker Activity Pad that is able to be programmable to work with Boardmaker program. However, this device is very expensive and one would need to add extra money to be able to obtain other add-ons to enhance the performance of this device. These devices also require power to operate and this can be provided in form of electricity or batteries that are tailored specifically for these devices. On the other hand, when using Boardmaker on a computer, there are requirements that the operating system is supposed to meet for this software to work properly (The State of Queensland, Department of Education and Training).
There are also other factors that need to be sorted out before this program can be used efficiently. One of these factors is training. As with any program, one cannot be able to utilize its services without having received the necessary training on how to use it. Therefore, Boardmaker requires that one is proficient enough to be able to use all the features that have been integrated into the program to ensure that students are able to gain much from them and that their learning is speeded up. Therefore, every Boardmaker program comes with a training manual from the manufacturer. This manual can be read individually, while at the same time practicing with the software or one can attend a class that trains one to be efficient in the use of the Boardmaker (The State of Queensland, Department of Education and Training).
On the other hand, the students will require that they get consistent assistance from their teachers and instructors on how to use the Boardmaker. This is because most of them are not familiar with the program and therefore they cannot be able to learn without the assistance of the teacher. Similarly, for teachers whose students have physical disabilities, there would need to be total assistance to the student throughout his learning period. This is because most of these students are challenged when the use of a Boardmaker requires that they use their limbs, which is difficult in some cases. As a result, the teacher or any other person using the Boardmaker will require that they operate it for them to be able to learn efficiently (Digital Library).
Apart from the responsibility that the teachers, parents and other people who use Boardmaker have while using this device, there are law requirements that have been set by the government that technological devices that are used in teaching must meet. Among these law is the safety of the students while using the device in question. According to Digital Library (2009), there are requirements that schools that deals with special education has to meet for them to be in a position to dissemination the relevant and skills to their students well. Under the requirements of these schools is the assistive technology that must be present in these schools to enhance learning. As a result, one of the assistive technologies that are covered under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is the Boardmaker.
The introduction of technology in schools has been able to transform schools and other learning centers into places that knowledge and skills are able to be transferred to students in an easy way. Similarly, students with disabilities have been able to learn easily, enabling them to be independent in the society. One of the technological devices that is current used in schools and other learning centers is Boardmakers, a device that has completely transformed the way knowledge and skills are passed on to students.
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