Originally posted on Microsoft Partners in Learning Hot Topics.
We might be still in the throes of summer, but with August upon us, the school year is right around the corner. Still ensconced in the warm glow of summer, some of the newest tech products for students with disabilities are equally as sizzling. As we celebrated the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (signed July 26, 1990), let’s push the momentum forward by embracing the best future for our students with disabilities.
In previous blogs, we’ve talked about tablets, but by just changing one letter, we can now shift energy on the equally innovative tables. More commonly known as interactive tables, they move beyond the electoral maps on cable news channels and into our classrooms.
Interactive tables, naturally larger than a tablet, incorporate whole lessons on a bigger surface. With larger, sweeping gestures, both students and teachers manipulate objects, trace letters and write on one big touch screen. Much like mobile and interactive whiteboards, these tables can be programmed with lessons, and they can light up when a student does something well.
These tables have also increased writing capabilities by students with mobility and dexterity disabilities. With a larger visual interface, students can learn from the other’s writing styles, and see in real-time their results. This is especially crucial for students who cannot manipulate a tablet, such as students with some limited mobility or a physical disability, and require alternative input devices that smaller technology cannot support.
Each interactive table typically comes with preloaded software that consists of numerous lessons.
Much of the curriculum has been accredited by educational institutions, and it should not be difficult to find a program that meshes up with your lesson plans.
But beyond academics, these interactive tables have tremendous potential for increasing the social skills of all students, not just those with disabilities. A tablet can be passed around, but students can all fit around a table. Accommodating groups of varying sizes, interactive tables are geared towards teamwork and cooperation: fundamental skills that students can only learn by working with each other. Thereby, this increases communication between students with disabilities and students without disabilities while they all work together on an activity.
While tablets certainly have their merits, pairing with interactive tables ensures less isolation in favor of a teambuilding experience. There are numerous brands, and we certainly do not endorse any manufacturer over another. However, as we gear up for new school supplies, perhaps you and other educators, as well as administrators, can look at the terrific boon that interactive tables bring to the classroom. Sit everyone down at the same table, and we can all learn.