Saturday, 11 February 2012

ICT in Education (2) - How to make the most of technology

After my last post about the benefits of children learning to touch type in readiness for Further and Higher Education and even in the world of work, I circulated it to some ex-colleagues in the College where I worked for five years  in the Learning Support Department. 

One ex-colleague friend now works at another college.  She replied and asked permission to use my ICT in Education article in a Staff Training/Development session.  Of course I was delighted, my only request, that she put my blogspot link on the PowerPoint or handout. I say this in case other readers would like to use my material.

Now for more tips for students with dyslexia, with regard to WORD.  I mentioned the use of Shift F7 for a thesaurus.  It is important to have the cursor on the word you are researching and the word has to be the root word.  For example if you want a better word than 'got', you need to type 'get' and then search with Shift F7, if you want a better word than 'requests' which is plural, you need to delete the 's' at the end of the word before searching.  There will be many choices when the thesaurus opens, so it is good to teach about nouns and verbs while doing this, something many students, even the non-dyslexic ones, have never really mastered.

It is important to insert page numbering on any essay.  This may seem unnecessary when you start an essay and only have achieved two pages (around 500 words) of a 3000 word essay.  However, I have lost count of the times a student has presented me with a sheaf of papers from her bag which spill on to the floor and which take the first fifteen minutes of the session to sort into order.  I am a great believer in the use of Footers and Headers during the essay process.  A useful addition to the Footer is the date.  This is something I do with my writing.  This ensures that when you take a look at some sheets of paper, say a chapter you have been working on, you know immediately if this is the most up-to-date version.  I have had students renaming their essay as a number ie 1,2,3, and so on which is not conducive to finding the most up to date version.  Number 1 will remain at the top of the Documents list long after you have reached version 30!  A name in the footer will ensure that any stray pages are identified as yours and the title of the essay will also avoid any mix ups in hard copy files.

Before starting an essay, set up the footer and header information and page numbering.  Then save the document with the name of the essay.  Students will get in a muddle if they name documents, letter or essay.  Give it the title that is on the assignment brief eg Essay Ethics Year 2.  This document name will allow the student to scroll easily to all the documents prefaced 'essay' and then to the current one in progress.  I have seen memory sticks with very intelligent organisation with different folders for the years of study, a folder for general uni information and a folder for personal documents.  Students will have individual needs suited to the course they are studying.

WORD also has a search function - Ctrl F.  This is useful when the document has become lengthy and complex.  I always advise using headings for paragraphs which are linked to the essay brief and which ensure they keep writing to the point of the paragraph and don't go off at a tangent in the middle of a totally unrelated paragraph.  Many tutors will not want headings in the final product but that is no reason not to use them when the essay is under construction.  This use of the search function will ensure that the student can quickly find the necessary point in the essay where they wish to insert, for example, a quote or a definition or some extra information.  This search function is useful if a student has mis-spelt the name of a scholar who is being quoted.  It may be that she/he has spelt it correctly some times and not others.  Using the search function for the incorrect spelling and replacing it with the correct one using Find Next will allow the correct spellings to be skipped and the incorrect ones to be replaced.

My ex-colleague who responded to my blog link has a dyslexic son and has asked questions about assistive software which i will address in a later post.

More about using WORD to enhance student writing in future posts. 

Please comment or ask questions which I will try to address. in later posts

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