Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday Tech Tip: 3 Ways to Use Audio Accessibility Features to Support Students

When working in digital learning environments, technology provides quite a few ways to help students access and create content.  We had the opportunity to collaborate in the past week with specialists from our Student Achievement Services and Assistive Technology departments, and we thought it might be a good idea to post publicly about some of the accessibility options our students (and teachers) have when working with digital content.

1.  Voice Typing in Google Docs

This is a relatively new addition to Google Docs, and for students who could benefit from speech-to-text, it's a great option.  Only available when in Chrome (and right now, only in Google Docs), the "Voice Typing" option under the "Tools" menu lets you speak into your computer's microphone, and it will type what you speak.  While not perfect, it does a pretty good job. You can pause recording if you need to chunk material, and then you can make your edits.   

2.  Read&Write for Google Chrome

We've posted about this before, but this free Chrome extension does a great job with reading text to students from a web page or from within Google Docs (the paid version has more features, like predictive text).  So, in the example above, a student could record their thoughts into a Google Doc and then use Read&Write to listen to their written work.  And for us, this can be used while students are taking assessments in Schoology.  Students can highlight the text they want read aloud, and Read&Write will both highlight the sentence and the words being read to the student.

3.  Audio Recording in Schoology

We've posted about this before as well, but since that post, Schoology made some enhancements to their video/audio recording tool.  In the Enterprise version of Schoology, we have the ability to record either webcam video or audio directly into updates, discussion boards, assignments, and assessments. For teachers, that means you can record yourself giving directions or reading portions of text out loud for students to hear.  For students, it means that they can provide an audio or webcam response in a discussion board or an assessment.

Any time you see a microphone icon in Schoology, you'll get this window when you click it.  You have 11 minutes of recording time with audio, 10 minutes of video recording time per recording.  

And, even better, we can provide audio feedback directly to a student when in a Schoology assignment submission.  While you can also type a comment, giving students audio feedback can make it more meaningful for the student and give comments a more personalized feel.

Bottom line:  for students who have accommodations as part of an IEP, these tools may not meet the needs of the student, so be sure to check with someone from the Special Education/Student Achievement Services department about your options.  However, when thinking about solutions for our students when audio can enhance learning, these are worth exploring.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! Im looking forward to trying this as I learn more and more about schoology!