Independent and self directed Learning
Educational and assistive technology are crucial to fostering self-directed and independent learning in students. Educational tech allow students to work at their own pace and at their own level, since it can adjust the difficulty based on prior responses. Assistive technology develops independent and self-directed learning because it allows students who have a disability or disadvantage to be at the same level as the rest of the class.
- Khan Academy is an amazing online tool that helps develop self-directed and independent learning. It is organized into grade level lessons and units that align quite well with standards, teaches students the lessons through video format, formatively assesses students, and culminates in a unit test that covers all of the lessons from the unit. It gives students immediate feedback on how they did when they answer a question. It also gives them a step-by-step solution once they answer each question, so that they can go back and review how to do it if they aren’t confident in how they got there. Students can also see how far they are into the lesson, the topics that are coming up, how well they have mastered the content, and what skills they need to work on. It’s a very motivating dashboard that will inspire a lot of students to complete it to the fullest. It’s completely free for students and teachers, plus teachers can view the progress that students have made and class analytics so they know where the class stands with understanding the lesson.
- IXL is another great website that also fosters independent and self-directed learning. It breaks down curriculum into grade levels and independent lessons. The list of lessons within each grade level is separated by subject, and listed in alphabetical order. This is great when looking for an individual lesson or skill, rather than a full unit. This also allows students to focus on what they know they need to work on, rather than what they have to complete to move on to the next question. Additionally, it shows teachers detailed analytics regarding how the students do on each activity and assessment that is assigned.
- Subtitles/closed captions are a great use of assistive technology. This helps students both with and without hearing impediments to have a greater chance of understanding videos watched in class. For students with hearing impediments, this could be a simple game-changer for them since they can comprehend videos in a way that is possible for them. For students without hearing impediments, subtitles are a secondary way to comprehend videos that reinforce the content to the brain, especially for visual learners (auditory learners will have less need for that). Subtitles take 2 seconds for teachers to turn on and do not distract from the learning, only help it.
- Screen readers are another great type of assistive technology. These are commonly seen with students who have a visual impairment or learning disability. Screen readers are programs designed to read the text of a document or website out loud for people who can’t read it themselves, either because of dyslexia, (near) blindness, or something else. This helps these students a lot because teachers or parents don’t always have time to read a text to them and students may need to return to it a few times before they understand it or find the correct answer to a question, but screen readers are always accessible.