WA invests $4m in classroom accessibility technology

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Thursday, 1 September 2011 12:06pm

The West Australian government has promised $4m for interactive whiteboards (IWBs) in the state’s public schools. IWBs, which use touchscreen functionality, offer interactivity and multimedia capabilities which not only boost student engagement but allow for easy use of assistive technology, such as captions.

WA Education Minister, Dr Liz Constable, said that IWBs are particularly beneficial for students with special needs, including those with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. “Students with autism are visual and the technology allows teachers to run image-based programs on the screen.”

IWBs are used in Media Access Australia’s Classroom Access Project, a series of prototype classrooms in mainstream schools which exemplify how technology can best be used to fully include Deaf and hearing impaired students.

Media Access Australia’s Education Manager, Anne McGrath explained IWBs’ application in the classroom: “The combination of image, text and sound allows students maximum opportunity to understand the information presented. Captions displayed on the whiteboard provide context for learning, allowing students to demonstrate their knowledge.”

“This technology allows flexibility and creativity in presentation of content and appeals to a variety of students learning styles: visual, auditory when displaying downloadable and video content, and kinaesthetic, involving touch by both students and teachers,” said McGrath.

IWBs come at an estimated cost of $9000 per unit and so the $4m investment is substantial and will ensure that WA public schools remain on par with schools nationally.

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