Chris McCormack and the rest of School District 20’s student support assisted technology team shared some insight with SD20’s board of education during its regular meeting Monday night.

Chris McCormack and the rest of School District 20’s student support assisted technology team shared some insight with SD20’s board of education during its regular meeting Monday night.

Trustees hear how assisted technology keeps students connected to learning

Where once smartphones were banned from the classroom, new tech is now being used to assist in the learning process.

Denise Flick remembers when students who brought a phone into the classroom likely wouldn’t see it again until after class when their teacher took it out of their desk drawer.

But in a short time the learning coordinator has witnessed a shift in attitude, all of which has been even more rewarding as a member of School District 20’s student support assisted technology team.

“Technology is no longer seen as cheating,” she said. “The first time I suggested to Grade 9s that all students could do their district-wide write on a computer people lost their minds.”

The team of seven updated the school board at its regular meeting Monday night on progress in the district by sharing key success stories and touching on how technology has helped not only those students who need assistance learning but the entire student body and teaching faculty.

Chris McCormack works in student support for the group. He coordinates with the members who fulfill other roles in the district (physiotherapist, occupational therapist, teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing, teacher of the visually impaired, speech language pathologist, learning coordinator) to find technology that fits student needs.

“We’re reaching other students who may have slipped through the cracks or may not be identified,” he explained. “Students are really understanding that maybe they need something to utilize to best support them and iPads seem to be something they are really taking to.”

The team gets referrals from schools for potential students who could benefit from some form of technology, according to Greg Luterbach, superintendent of schools.

Members meet regularly and review referrals and decide what technology would be appropriate before the district signs off on a purchase. Once signed off, then the information goes to a technology team that works to procure and provision the device before reaching the hands of the student in need, who is then taught all of the device’s ins and outs.

iPads and laptops are the most common hardwares being used to access software like Dragon, Proloquo2Go and Kurzweil, which provide capabilities like speech to text and word prediction.

“I still remember the first day that their little smiles and eyes lit up when they could read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the first time by themselves,” McCormack recalled as he shared one success story. “They still need support but are making strides on their own now, too.”