District Administration August 2018 - 37

nication tools can cost thousands of dollars, these apps retail for less than $300.
Visually impaired students can use
apps that scan and enlarge text, and they
can surf the internet with help from
browser extensions that read content from
any website.
A 1-to-1 laptop program at Las Virgenes USD in Southern California has
shifted technology from being only a part
of a student's day to an embedded component of the curriculum. This gives special ed students full-time access to assistive
extensions and plugins.
"Students in special ed don't need to
qualify for some of the things that they
previously would have had to assert a need
for," says Derek Ihori, Las Virgenes USD's
director of pupil services. "They already
have access to them with the laptops that
are with them all the time. It allows them
to be much more independent."
What do students like?
The number of apps now available can
overwhelm educators searching for the
right classroom tool.
District tech leaders must find ways
to help teachers vet products, including
the growing number of open education
resources, says Leila Nuland, managing
research director for K12 at the consulting
firm Hanover Research. Because advances
in technology often outpace academic

VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY

Though not yet used widely in special education, virtual and augmented reality
have the potential to be game-changers.
Dan Phillips, director of the Technology Resource Center at the Marin County
Office of Education in California, has given VR headsets to children in wheelchairs, allowing them to walk and move virtually as they work on a 3D digital
science curriculum.
"We began to see kids moving their bodies in ways they never moved their
bodies before, showing increased range of motion and increased muscle flexibility," Phillips says.
Wearable augmented reality systems have also helped students with autism
develop social skills. One product that works with Google
Glass provides wearers with cues that help them interpret
facial expressions.
"Think of the Terminator looking around the room-how
it analyzes targets and then a message comes up that
says, 'it's safe,'" says Kevin Custer, founding partner of Arc
Capital Development, a edtech investment firm.
research, schools and districts should communicate with one another about the most
effective new apps. Guidance can also be
offered to teachers in professional development sessions. Some districts (such as
Vancouver schools) have created catalogs
of education apps for educators to use,
Nuland says.
The apps in Vancouver's repository,
which has a section for students on IEPs,
have been vetted by the tech team and suggested by teachers.
At Las Virgenes USD, the tech team

"They're sharing and collaborating, they're excited
and they're pushing through frustration points they
maybe wouldn't have before."
-Meagan Williams, Vancouver Public Schools

sends out a weekly newsletter with suggested apps and plugins. "It's wonderful
to have so many resources at your fingertips," Nuland says. "But it comes back to
the fundamental question of 'How do you
prepare teachers?' Do your teachers understand how to translate student needs into
selecting the appropriate resources?"
With all these new tools, administrators must also make sure they can connect
the technology to student achievement-
and that can be done with more than just
test scores and assessments, Nuland adds.
"Look at it from it from all angles-it
might be surveying parents, it might be
classroom observations, it might be teachers observing students," she says. "And
depending on students' skills, it might
be their ability to articulate how they're
using the devices, whether they like them
and whether they find them helpful." DA

Freelance writer Jennifer Fink contributed
reporting.

MORE ONLINE: Find a list of special edtech products at DAmag.me/edcertification

www.DistrictAdministration.com

August 2018 37


http://DAmag.me/edcertification http://www.DistrictAdministration.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration August 2018

District Administration August 2018 - Cover1
District Administration August 2018 - Cover2
District Administration August 2018 - 1
District Administration August 2018 - 2
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District Administration August 2018 - Cover3
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