Personalize Learning for Students with Special Education Needs Using Windows and Office including OneNote and Lync

Every student brings his or her own unique experiences, talents, and challenges into the classroom, including those students with special education needs. December 2nd marks Special Education Day in the U.S. – because each child's learning style is different, teachers must strive to support their students' unique learning styles while balancing the demands of larger classrooms, standardized testing and changing curricula. With this in mind, we're sharing stories of teachers and educators who are using technology in inventive ways to instruct students with a variety of learning styles and disabilities in recognition of Special Education Day.

Instructing Students with Disabilities

Meet Robin Lowell, a distance learning teacher who mathematics to her students who are blind or visually impaired students across the Washington-Oregon border. Lowell devised a way to use Microsoft Lync and Yammer to improve learning for her students. This video shows how teachers and math students at the Washington State School for the Blind use Lync and Yammer to connect with Lowell, who lives 180 miles from the school:

Learn what inspired Michio Inaba, a deaf teacher at Osaka's Ikuno School for the deaf, to use Microsoft products like Surface and OneNote to encourage the true potential of his students.

Flexibility to Choose a Stylus, Touch, Mouse or Keyboard

Windows 8 lets a student adjust their devices to make learning more personalized, aligning with each student's natural learning style or special education needs. Windows personalizes learning options enable students to access the curriculum in their own way, according to their abilities and needs. That flexibility means that students can use Windows 8 tablets in whichever mode works best for them: touch, stylus, mouse, or keyboard.

For students who learn best by writing, Windows 8 tablets feature powerful handwriting recognition and a stylus input. See how the easy-to-use, ink-to-text feature works in the classroom. Educator Sonja Delafosse, an instructional technology coordinator, demonstrates how:

Ways to Assess Student Progress

Personalized learning is most effective when teachers can accurately assess how each student is progressing – and Windows 8 makes that possible. Using apps like the innovative Record Voice & Pen for Windows 8, teachers can gain valuable insights on their students' comprehension. Teachers can literally hear what their students are thinking, and then see that thought process visually on screen:

Special Education Apps for Windows

There are also many education apps for Windows that enable students of all abilities to learn in a way that works best for them. For example, with Skitch Touch for Windows 8, teachers can authentically assess student progress, while learners can record and save their individual learning process:

Here are a few more special education apps designed for students with disabilities:

  • Tap to Talk gives a non-verbal child or adult a voice by turning any Windows 8 device into an affordable augmentative and alternative communication device. Tap a picture, TapToTalk speaks aloud.
  • Visolve is assistive software for people with color blindness. Visolve for Modern UI can apply some color transformations, and simulations to an image taken by camera, saved in the file, or copied in clipboard.

  • Talkingtiles is an assistive care app that can be used for communication, learning, daily living and social skills for individuals with a special need, disability, or a behavioral health disorder.

  • Windows Eyes. To make learning even easier for students with visual impairments, Microsoft and GW Micro have partnered to provide a free screen reader called Windows Eyes.

Flexible Teaching

For educators, Windows 8 and Office open up a world of flexible teaching possibilities – from distance learning with Lync and Yammer, to instant messaging (IM), to moving around inside and outside the classroom. The right technology allows a student to work at their own pace in a way that traditional textbook-and-chalkboard approaches simply can't. When students are equipped with a durable, lightweight and portable device, teachers can bring curriculum to life with project-based learning that is rooted in real-world scenarios that prepare students of all abilities for the future.

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