I chose to make an informational presentation highlighting Quizizz for fellow educators. Most of my artifacts up to this point have been for classroom use with my own students. I wanted to instead focus on speaking to fellow educators. I know that some educators still have reservations about incorporating technology in the classroom, so I wanted to highlight how easy Quizizz is to use, while also highlighting aspects that it provides that are important to all educators. My hope is to be able to have presentations like this to share with educators that I may work with as a potential future IT. This will help open the door to build a relationship with those I may be helping and training.
First, I am a big Adobe fan and have been using their products for a long time. This was my first experience using Spark. I use Office 365 quite a bit, and it reminds me a lot of Sway. A strength of Spark is the integration of the image search, and I loved how it credited the author of my image without me having to do anything! I can see how this could be appealing to teachers who may want to use images but are concerned about fair use. I do not recall Sway having that feature.
The mixed modality of presenting images alongside text, like Spark and Sway, could certainly help ELL students to help them with comprehension. Combining Spark with Google Extensions and 0365 Add-Ins could certainly assist with a huge group of students who struggle with everything from dysgraphia to English as a second language.
Another area where Spark could help strengthen project-based learning is differentiation through the ability to view a presentation as many times as needed, synchronously or asynchronously. I demo things often in class, and it is a life saver to have resources to post for students to view to help clarify concepts and gather context for projects.
I can see how these tools can support collaboration and communication, but it supports communication the most. Comprehension and interpretation can be an issue with everyone. I love how much progress Microsoft has made regarding accessibility in Edge. Natively, the browser supports read aloud, immersive reader, and translating the content to a second language. I have even shared this with some of my students recently, and one of them told me that I was the best technology teacher she ever had! I discovered some of these resources in a project I did earlier in this program for a special education student I worked with, but this module provided even more options, and a variety as well. Just the Control Alt Achieve article alone was mind blowing!
I decided to download two Chrome extensions: OpenDyslexia and Mercury Reader. I tried them both and OpenDyslexia worked as advertised. It converts everything to a specific font to help dyslexic students be able to read better, but I need to research it more. I am assuming it is recommended to be used along with other strategies like read aloud and concept mapping, because dyslexia is such a complex issue. I worked with a dyslexic student earlier in another class for this degree and wish I would have known about that before, so I could have tried it. I know the student’s mother well and will let her know about it if they may want to try it. Mercury Reader was the second extension I used, and it worked well with individual articles, but not as reliably with other pages, like home pages that lead to secondary pages. Interestingly, Mercury Reader detected that, and sent me a message telling me that it works better with individual articles. The extension also had some personalized settings integrated that were useful, like changing font size and contrast. I love having the extension information at my disposal, but I am not a fan of extensions. However, regarding supporting students with a need, I can certainly see the benefits. As I mentioned earlier, I like that Edge has many of those features built in already.
As far as how these tools can support students with disabilities and provide differentiation, I feel I have covered a lot of that already. There are areas that could improve in the future. For example, I converted the text of a web page to another language, and it worked great! But then I tried to read aloud that same text using Edge’s Read Aloud feature and it was not the most elegant reading. I know Immersive Reader does read text in various languages, but it would be nice if you could just have that available without sending it to the Immersive Reader.
Features like Read Aloud, Microsoft’s Translator, adjusting fonts, contrast, and text size all are helping bridge gaps in communication and student disabilities. I just think you must be careful regarding how much you customize your applications, or they can create the problem they are meant to help solve. Do you really need to order an Uber or a coffee from Starbucks inside Microsoft Word? Is that increasing productivity?
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