The Way Learning Should Be Conference

ACTEM – The Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine

ACTEM logoACTEM has opened the registration for its annual fall conference taking place

October 10-11, 2019
Augusta Civic Center • Augusta, ME

The 2019 Conference Program includes…

  • Two full days of engaging professional development.
  • Dynamic Keynote Speakers
  • Over 100 workshop sessions
  • Over 40 Exhibitors

Maine CITE will be exhibiting at the Conference and John Brandt and Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles, Ph.D, ATP will be presenting “Innovative Technologies in Special Education.”

Use this link for more information and early bird registration discounts…

Microsoft Inclusive Classroom Offerings

Microsoft logoA recently blog article from Microsoft describes several application and new features to their MS-Office 365 package that may assist students with disabilities. The list includes information about:

  • Immersive Reader
  • Microsoft Forms
  • Microsoft Whiteboard
  • Minecraft: Educational Edition

Information about Inclusive Math, Writing and Communications are also included.

Use this link to read Inclusive Classroom round up for Microsoft Education…

Free e-book info

The following information comes from Jennifer Maurer, School Library Consultant for the State Library of Oregon. Jen posted this on the edWeb.net School Library Network discussion board. Great information, thank you Jen!

electronic books on various devicesMost free eBooks that come with no restrictions are those that are available in the public domain, which means they are no longer under copyright or they never were. If they never were under copyright, they are often self published. Most new to new-ish and copyrighted materials are not available for free, or they come with some restrictions. Even with digital versions of books, the authors, illustrators, and publishers need to get paid by someone in order to make a living or profit.

As … noted, Epic! offers free eBooks to elementary students. The catch is that to access the books at home, parents have to pay to subscribe.

You can check what your local public library offers. In that case, the public library subscribes on behalf of its patrons. Popular platforms include OverDrive (with the Libby app), Cloud Library, and for kids only, some offer Tumblebooks

International Children’s Digital Library  is a grant-funded project that makes children’s books in many languages available online at no cost.

Book Bub is a site that tracks temporary deals for free or inexpensive ebooks. You can sign up to receive a daily email. I’m pretty sure there’s a category for children’s books.

And for classics and other public domain offerings, there are many sites, including Project Gutenberg and Open Library (which has some copyrighted material; not sure how that is okay). This article lists other sites…

By the way, Sync offers 2 free audiobooks per week to download during the summer. The books are aimed at ages 13 and over.

Microsoft Studies AT for Education

PowerPoint logoMicrosoft recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact™ Analysis of Microsoft Accessibility And Assistive Technologies For Education to quantify the benefits of Microsoft accessibility tools for students, teachers and schools.

According to the news release from Microsoft, “Forrester conducted numerous interviews across K-12, Higher Education, and an alternative school.  These schools were using the built-in accessibility tools that are offered with our Microsoft 365 platform, including Office 365 and Windows 10.  These schools represent over 90,000 students and 5000 faculty and staff.”

The research showed the following barriers to implementing Assistive Technology in schools:

  • Existing solutions could not be widely deployed and often had a stigma associated with them
  • Learning experiences could be disjointed and distracting
  • Technology costs and effort were too high.

Microsoft reported that “the study revealed that by deploying and using Microsoft Accessibility and assistive technology tool… schools can improve student learning, reduces costs and effort, and save time and be more effective.”

Read the complete news release from Microsoft…

New EdTech Publications Emphasize Inclusion

From State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) and National Center for Learning Disabilities:

June 7, 2019 – Eleven national organizations have come together to outline a new vision for education technology in a series of publications that explore conception, design, procurement, use, and continuous improvement of ed tech initiatives.

The collaborative publications build off a central report, “Inclusive Technology in a 21st Century Learning System”, by Ace Parsi, Director of Innovation at the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). The report lays out a new inclusive vision for educational technology and considerations to ensure technology closes educational, economic, and civic opportunity gaps for individuals with disabilities.

The complimentary local and state/national briefs were developed in collaboration between the following organizations:

  • Policy and Research Organizations:  The American Institute for Research, Digital Promise, the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, and The Learning Accelerator
  • Associations Representing Local Policy Leaders: CoSN – Consortium for School Networking, the School Superintendent Association and Association of School Business Officials International;
  • Associations Representing State Policy Makers:  National Association of State Directors of Special Education, the State Education Technology Directors Association, and the National Association of State Boards of Education;
  • National Policy and Advocacy Organizations: The Alliance for Excellent Education, the Future Ready Schools initiative, and the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

“Working together with these 10 other organizations sets a prime example of how all decision makers should be working together to ensure the needs of all learners are truly being met,” noted Lindsay Jones, CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

“These publications provide information and guidance to educational leaders to effectively leverage education technology to meet the needs of all learners, particularly those with disabilities,” said Tracy Gray, Managing Director at the American Institute for Research.

Use this link to read the entire news release and learn more about this topic..

Accessible Media and Services for Students

Blind person walking in mall with guide dogThe Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) is a leading national source for accessible educational content, providing services for students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. Families and school personnel with early learners through Grade 12 students can register for free access to over 6,000 Educational Media titles on-demand and on DVD. DCMP’s Learning Center contains a wealth of information related to education, accessibility, deafness, blindness, and other related topics. DCMP provides Media Accessibility Guidelines through our Captioning Key and Description Key, used by media professionals as well as amateurs around the world.

The Described and Captioned Media Program provides premium media designed for students with disabilities and leads as a resource for families and teachers, supported by the federal Department of Education.

A recent additions to their website, Is Your Student Ready for What Comes Next? provides a set of resources to assist students in the Transition process. Some of the resources include:

  • Map It: What Comes Next is a free, online, interactive training designed for transition-aged students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • The Getting a Job! online training was developed and designed for students who are deaf or hard of hearing and the professionals who work with them.  Focusing on the transition from school to work, the training offers a series of activities, supporting documents and topical videos designed to help the job seeker prepare for the world of work.  All the videos in the modules are presented in ASL, and are also voiced in English and captioned.

Additional videos and resources include:

  • Real Life 101: College Prep – With college just ahead of them, the hosts visit with some people who help students prepare for this milestone.
  • Real Life 101: Vocational Training – In this video a career planner discusses how to find the right career for the right person.
  • Paying Your Way Through College – This video helps viewers understand four-key financial aid sources: scholarships, grants, work-study, and student loans.
  • Biz Kid$ – Public television’s Emmy Award-winning financial education series of 65 videos for teens and preteens. Each video has a lesson guide, and the Biz Kid$ website has many additional ideas for learning activities.

Most of the resources on the website require a FREE DCMP membership which may be applied for on the site.

National AEM Center posts “AEM and the IEP”

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials logo

In March, the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (NC-AEM) hosted a webinar entitled, “AEM in the IEP: Where Do Accessible Materials and Technologies Fit?” Presented by Joy Zabala and Diana Carl, the 60-minute webinar detailed the seven points in the IEP development process at which AEM might reasonably be considered and documented. Participants were also provided with IEP requirements at each point and questions related to consideration of accessible materials.

This webinar has now been archived and posted, available for your viewing. The presentation slides and handout is also available for download.

New Report Providing a Snapshot of Trends in State K12 Instructional Materials

Updated Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS) Online Portal

Student using iPad to readApril 1, 2019 (Washington, D.C.) – SETDA, the principal membership association of the U.S. state and territorial digital learning leaders, today announced the release of a new report, State K12 Instructional Materials Leadership Trends Snapshot and updates to the free, online tool to support the implementation of digital instructional materials, Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS). Educators, policy makers and the private sector will benefit from organized and accessible information highlighting trends regarding the acquisition of digital instructional materials, including state guidance, definitions and policies, procurement practices, review processes, funding options, and digital learning resources for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. New for 2019 is the topic of professional learning, highlighting the opportunities states provide teachers around the selection, creation and implementation of quality, digital instructional materials. This work supports state and district leaders’ understanding of state policies and can impact policy changes related to instructional materials (including non-traditional instructional materials, such as digital content) to best meet the individual needs of all learners.

“The selection and implementation of digital instructional materials is a top priority in K-12 education environments,” shared Candice Dodson, SETDA’s incoming Executive Director. “SETDA’s newest resource for this critical work, State K12 Instructional Materials Leadership Trends Snapshot, summarizes the current state policies and practices of this process utilizing 2019 updates to our powerful Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS) online portal. This portal provides opportunities for collaboration between state and district leaders across the country to bring quality resources to digital teaching and learning for all.”

Both the Snapshots report and DMAPS were developed through the expertise and efforts of state leaders responsible for procurement, instructional materials and educational technology and in collaboration with experts in the field.

For a comprehensive overview, access this recent webinar, Navigating the Digital Shift: Leveraging Quality Instructional Materials for Learning

This work was made possible by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About SETDA

Founded in 2001, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is the principal non-profit membership association representing U.S. state and territorial educational technology leaders. Our mission is to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through technology policy and practice. For more information, please visit: setda.org.

Reaching Accessibility Goals for Higher Education

Accessible Information TechnologyA new article in Inside Higher Ed magazine Helping Institutions Reach Accessibility Goals details the fact that many institutions of higher education fail to have “coherent policies around accessibility. ” And, they note that there has been “…a recent uptick in high-profile lawsuits alleging failure to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act…”

While the reasons for this situation are many, the article suggests “time constraints” make be a factor. Quoting Cynthia Curry from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (NC-AEM)“Part of the problem is that people don’t have the time to do something systemic around accessibility within their institutions…” Curry said. “Most institutions, of course, aren’t looking proactively at accessibility. They’re looking at it more as a retrofit, or they’re being reactive if something litigious comes up.”

Maine CITE’s own resident digital accessibility resource person is John Brandt. Brandt’s own 25-year experience in web development and accessibility suggest that the perceived high cost to make web content accessible is probably the largest single factor in the equation. “Most organizations look at accessibility as expensive because they are approaching it from a mitigation perspective. They often fail to look at the costs associated with NOT having accessible content – lost student admissions, lack of student retention, etc.”

While most web accessibility experts will talk about the importance of “adding accessibility in at the beginning” of a web design process, colleges and universities are often not able to do this since they were among the first organizations to have websites in the 1990s – they have accumulated lots of content.

But even if an institution is committed to improving accessibility, they often don’t know where to start. To that end, the Inside Higher Education article promotes a new set of quality indicators for accessible educational materials developed by NC-AEM designed to “help institutions ensure, at scale, that all students have the same learning opportunities in face-to-face classrooms and digital learning environments.” The article focuses on the NC-AEM’s recently published  “Higher Education Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials & Accessible Technologies” which promote seven quality indicators (QI), each containing specific criteria needed to achieve each QI.

For colleges and universities just starting out with the process, these quality indicators can provide a blueprint and structure of the thinking process that need to be considered. Tom Tobin, one of the people interviewed in the article, encourages “institutions (to) focus accessibility efforts on the potential impact on student access and learning outcomes, rather than merely on ‘legal-compliance arguments.’”

“While the description of the quality indicators alludes to the broad access benefits for all learners when accessible materials, tools and interface are adopted, the actual indicators and critical components are focused squarely on meeting the needs of learners with disabilities — only a part of the access conversation,” Tobin states in the article.

Read “Helping Institutions Reach Accessibility Goals”

Read/view the NC-AEM – “Higher Education Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials & Accessible Technologies”

Described and Captioned Media Program

Blind boy using Braille embosserThe Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) provides premium media designed for students with disabilities and leads as a resource for families and teachers, supported by the Department of Education.

DCMP’s mission is to promote and provide equal access to communication and learning through described and captioned educational media.

The ultimate goal of the DCMP is for accessible media to be an integral tool in the teaching and learning process for all stakeholders in the educational community, including students, educators and other school personnel, parents, service providers, businesses, and agencies.

The DCMP supports the U.S. Department of Education Strategic Plan for 2014-2018 by committing to the following goals:

  • Ensuring that students (early learners through Grade 12) who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind have the opportunity to achieve the standards of academic excellence.
  • Advocating for equal access to educational media as well as the establishment and maintenance of quality standards for captioning and description by service providers.
  • Providing a collection of free-loan described and captioned educational media.
  • Furnishing information and research about accessible media.
  • Acting as a gateway to Internet resources related to accessibility.
  • Adapting and developing new media and technologies that assist students in obtaining and using available information.

The Described and Captioned Media Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the National Association of the Deaf.

Please visit DCMP for more information…