Assistive Tech as a Study Aid
How are students using technology to help them study?
There are a lot of great study tools available now. One example is the virtual highlighter, so if I’m on a web page, I can highlight a piece of text, or if I’m reading a pdf, I can highlight a piece of text. The software can gather those highlights, and create kind of note for the student. It’s like starting with the tools that we use for reading comprehension, such as using a highlighter to mark the main ideas, or a post-it note to write our questions down and then stick the note on a piece of paper. We’ve taken those basic tools and made them digital.
And one of the neat things about these digital tools is that when I highlight a piece of text on the computer screen, what it’s actually going to do is capture what I’ve highlighted, and turn it into a bulleted or ‘point form’ note. So instead of me having to highlight, and then make my own notes on a separate document, the computer generates those notes as we go along. So I can go from one web page to another web page, or one pdf to another pdf, highlighting important information, and then I can say: “Hey, that’s all related to that subject that I’m studying right now.” I can then ask the computer, “Pull up all the notes I’ve highlighted on that subject,” and it’ll develop a document for me with all those notes.
These tools were originally developed for students who were having difficulties with reading comprehension, but you can show that technology to almost any student — and all my graduate students love this technology. You show that to them, they all want to use it. So this technology may be essential for some students, who have difficulties with reading comprehension, but it’s really beneficial for all students. All students can benefit from this type of technology.