In the U.S., 1 in 5 kids have learning and attention disorders, including dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Meanwhile, 1 in 10 students are learning English as a second language and millions of students have learning, physicial or emotional disabilities. As school districts design learning environments and choose their classroom technology, there’s no question they need to be mindful of students’ varying abilities.

To best serve their students, many districts are implementing assistive technology in the classroom — such as interactive whiteboards, which allow teachers to create a comfortable and effective learning environment for all their students.

Deploying assistive technology in the classroom

In evaluating which classroom technologies are best suited to their students’ needs, educators need to consider several factors, including budget. Education budgets are often limited, so classroom technology should serve multiple functions when possible. While every school would love to purchase individual learning tools for each student, multipurpose group learning tools are easier to budget for.

Classroom technology should also integrate with the existing class structure and lesson plans. Teachers can make adjustments, of course, but they shouldn’t have to jump through hoops and completely rearrange their well-developed plans to work with new technology. Along those same lines, the technology should be easy to use — for teachers and students alike — without need for in-depth training. Anyone should be able to interact with the board intuitively.

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A smartboard or interactive whiteboard resembles a traditional dry-erase board in form and in use, but unlike a static whiteboard, a smartboard can be connected to external devices such as tablets, smartphones, laptops and computers. It features a large touchscreen that’s internet- and device-connected and can be written on with a stylus or with your finger.

Smart boards as an assistive technology tool

When it comes to assistive technology in the classroom, smartboards such as Samsung’s Flip 2 are a proven solution. They equally benefit kids with learning or cognitive disabilities, hearing or vision difficulties and mobility limitations, as well as kids who face a language barrier.

Students with vision difficulties, for instance, have an easier time reading from an interactive whiteboard since the text can be expanded, highlighted or bolded. Teachers can also supplement with audio so students can listen to their lessons rather than having to see across the room. This is especially useful for children who have dyslexia or otherwise struggle with reading. Teachers can record lessons on the smartboard so students can watch them again in smaller, bite-sized chunks and take their time mastering a new concept.

Class recordings also benefit any kids who may need to learn remotely. Equipped with a camera, the interactive whiteboard allows remote learners to videoconference with the classroom so they can see their classmates and be an active part of discussions even if they aren’t physically in the room.

Features such as text-to-speech and voice-to-text software allow the smartboard to deliver questions to students aloud and automatically transcribe their verbal answers.

Assistive classroom technology can also help students who have fine motor issues. With the option to write with their finger, a stylus or even a tennis ball, each student can use what’s most comfortable for them. They can practice tracing letters and numbers, for instance, displayed on the board in various sizes. As their motor skills improve, their teacher can decrease the font size. And with handwriting-to-text conversion, students who aren’t able to type on a keyboard can write longer-form assignments with ease.

Students with attention disorders often have an easier time focusing on a single screen, which minimizes distractions. These students will often also benefit from lessons that incorporate video, graphics and sound clips — which is easy for teachers to do on a smartboard, and helps students stay engaged.

When it comes to teaching, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but interactive whiteboards come close. Easy to implement and easy to use, they can be used by an entire classroom of students of diverse abilities.

Learn more about why interactive learning matters and how prioritizing it engages students and improves outcomes in this free guide. And if you’re not sure what technology best suits your classroom, discover a full range of Samsung interactive displays, designed for intuitive and exciting collaboration.

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Karen Stealey

Karen J. Stealey is a veteran business, health, lifestyle and technology journalist with a wide range of publishing experience. Her tech and business work has appeared in Forbes, BusinessWeek Online, Adweek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, MyBusiness Magazine, Government Computer News, Workforce Management, CFO, Crain's New York and Crain's BtoB.

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