Board pleased by teaching tech updates

Pair of presentations illuminate how far technology is coming in the classroom

Languange/speech pathologist Stephen Pierson spoke on the value of learning aids such as ipads.

Languange/speech pathologist Stephen Pierson spoke on the value of learning aids such as ipads.

The School District 20 Board of Education kicked off it’s May 14 meeting at Blueberry School with a pair of presentations. Language/Speech Pathlolgist Stephen Pierson and Education Assistant/Childcare worker, Mentor/Trainer Chris McCormack gave separate summaries to the board, designed to bring staff and trustees up to speed on how modern media tools and software are enabling breakthroughs in learning, specifically in regard to children with learning challenges.

Pierson spoke glowingly of tablet computers such as the ipad, and how they offer effective alternatives to traditional ways of teaching children with challenges such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.”Kids just take to it,” he said, adding that simply taking one into a room and turning it on quickly grabs the attention every child present.

He offered video evidence of how well kids catch on to the device and how it helps them communicate.In one case, a boy who could normally can endure no more than 15 seconds on any one learning task, could deftly utilize the tablet in making choices and providing answers to questions.Much of the teaching process involves games, and with a software program called Proloquo2go, Pierson says the results are very encouraging.

The boy mentioned earlier, though a bit resistant when introduced to the device, now wears it with a strap.A visually challenged student who deals with other cognitive issues as well, is making good strides with the zoom text feature on the computer, whereas before he could make out nothing further than three inches from his face.Pierson described an older student who’s goal is to become a professional cook.

The student, who is prone to seizures, has a tough time reading but has made good progress with an available voice program that can provide needed information in a way he can quickly understand.

Chris McCormack started his delivery by stating how sold he is on his work. The young Kootenay native described his own frustration as a student due to his difficulty with writing.

Having ideas and not being able to express them with the same fluency as others, frustrated him.McCormack said he could have used a program like Kurzweil 3000 back in the day.”There’s so much to it,” he excitedly told the board. “The program allows kids to get ideas out of their heads and onto paper.”

Conceding that the Kurzweil program is just one of many available, McCormack said he has seen many positive results with it. The internet-based program, for instance, can allow a person with writing difficulties to cut and paste forms or tests, email them to themselves, make text boxes and complete exams just as straightforwardly as anyone else.

Trustee Lorainne Manning applauded the “obvious passion” McCormack has for his work, and Chair Darrel Ganzert thanked both Pierson and McCormack for their presentations.