As a speech-language pathologist and child development specialist I am uniquely positioned to address speech-language deficits using an innovative approach. As a speech-language pathologist, I have been trained in the evaluative and treatment processes for persons presenting with a communicative deficit. Whereas my training as a child development specialist has introduced me to the intricacies of early childhood education with an emphasis on educational technology. In merging these two professional communities, I have begun to discover the benefits of incorporating educational technology in enhancing the learning processes of my clients presenting with speech-language disorders.
What is educational technology you ask? Simply put, educational technology is “the considered implementation of appropriate tools, techniques, or processes that facilitate the application of senses, memory, and cognition to enhance teaching practices and enhance learning outcomes (Aziz, 2010).” Within this definition, there are five key components that express the deeper nature of educational technology: (a) considered implementation; (b) appropriate tools, techniques, or processes; (c) facilitate the application of senses, memory, and cognition; (d) enhance teaching practices, and (e) improve learning outcomes. Each component plays an integral role in enhancing the learning process for clients, and I will further discuss each through the remainder of the article.
Considered Implementation speaks to the use of developmentally appropriate practices for the selection and implementation process of technological tools within one’s practice. The practitioner must necessarily have a pre-established protocol for assessing whether the desired outcome is achieved through the implementation of the given technological tool. If the desired gains are obtained, then it can be assumed that the given tool is appropriate for the client; however, if the desired outcome is not achieved, then the practitioner will need to reconsider the use of the given tool. The last thing we want to do is continue using a technological tool that has no positive affect on our client(s).
Selecting Appropriate Tools, Techniques, or Processes addresses our ability to discriminate between developmentally appropriate and inappropriate technological tools, techniques, or processes for our clients. As practitioners, we are constantly inundated with new technological apps and therapeutic approaches that may not align with best practices. Therefore, we have to consistently be cognizant of best practices based on current research and how the information from such can be applied in our daily practice the most effectively. One resource I like to use for deciding on which tools to select is published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). NAEYC has a myriad of resources addressing the use of developmentally appropriate practices for persons working with children.
Facilitating the Application of Senses, Memory, and Cognition allows for practitioners to assist their clients in internalizing the given information as they interact with varying technological tools. For instance, the clinician may teach a given concept using various media sources that address different modes of learning within a client, i.e. auditory, visual, and tactile. Using these various approaches will allow the client to move from the surface level of learning to a deeper knowledge base. A deeper knowledge will allow the client to better externalize concepts learned in the therapeutic setting.
Enhancing Teaching Practices should cause practitioners to thoughtfully consider how the use of technology can enhance our everyday teaching practices, thus benefiting our clients. As a practitioner, we are privy to learning gaps that I our clients may present with and can recommend technology apps that can help clients fill these weak spots. Furthermore, the implementation of technological tools addressing areas of impairment may provide clients with increased generalization of concepts taught within the clinical context.
Improving Learning Outcomes is key in that if we are unable to improve learning outcomes then there is no point in implementing a given technological tool. Therefore, to justify the continued use of a given tool requires that we assess our outcomes, make incremental changes in our methodologies to address shortcomings, then assess again to determine the efficacy of our work. We succeed when we are able to show improved learning outcomes in our clients as we then have a legitimate case for continued use of technology in the teaching and learning endeavor.
Dr. Darnell, Ph.D., M.S., CCC-SLP