Using Google's Online Apps to Enhance a Class and Accommodate Students
Teachers have little time left outside of overall class instruction to truly differentiate for each student. Those with disabilities run the risk of being lost in the chaos of the school day.
Thankfully, new technology is making it easier to accommodate students with a wide range of disabilities, from seeing and hearing impairments to learning disabilities and ADHD, and traditional classroom teachers as well as those tenured at virtual universities wise to keep familiar with the widening range of options in order to help each of their students succeed regardless of special needs.
Google has developed quite a few web-based applications that are reasonably priced or even free that provide teachers with some useful tools to cater to the needs of each of their students.
This is perhaps one of the most versatile of the apps Google has to offer. While ostensibly its major purpose is to be a single phone number that people can use to reach you anywhere, it also can be used for a variety of purposes appropriate to special needs students.
As Google's Teacher Academy notes, Google Voice saves all voicemail online and can transcribe all voicemail to text. It also allows users to send SMS messages to multiple recipients.
Educators can use Google Voice to meet the needs of several different types of students at once. For instance, the voicemail feature can be used to give students three-minute snippets of instruction that can be replayed. For those students with hearing impairments, the same voicemail segments can be transcribed for easy reading.
What's more, SMS group messaging means that teachers can send reminders about homework and tests to those students struggling with organizational issues.
Google suggests a number of classroom ideas for Google Voice on its Teacher Academy website, but one that stands out is the idea they offer for speech class.
Google Voice can be used to allow students to record snippets of a speech for review and perfection. This can be taken a step further, out of the speech classroom and moving into the realm of speech therapy, by helping students practice perfecting their pronunciation of sounds even without the presence of a speech therapist. By being able to listen to their own voices, these students will be able to hear their successes as well as their missteps and practice on their own.
The reply feature of Google Voice, as one teacher notes, offers educators the chance to reply to student queries via text, voice message, or voice call. For students with a seeing impairment, this differentiation is crucial, while those with hearing impairments will receive the feedback they need via text.Continued on the next page