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Is Using Assistive Technology Cheating?!

Picture this: Your students are taking a 10 question quiz to determine what they have learned about your lesson on the Inner Planets of the Solar System. Of the 22 students in your class, four students need assistive technology (AT) tools as indicated on their Individual Education Plans.

  • Two need text-to-speech assistive technology to read and comprehend the questions and answer choices and format.

  • One student needs an online highlighter feature to track his reading.

  • One needs speech-to-text to answer the questions digitally due to some fine motor complexities.

Is this considered cheating?

Some may think so based on what they see.

Let's dig a little deeper. Get beyond WHAT you see and understand more about the WHY.

At first glance, one might think that technology is giving an advantage, decreasing the amount of effort, or inhibiting a student from "trying" his/her best.

This is the WHAT that some might see if they are looking for equality. Equality in education is deciding that every child requires the same tools, the same opportunities, and the same instruction/engagement to succeed. (With equality, the use of assistive technology might be considered cheating.)

And we all know that is simply not the case.

We need equity.

WHAT might we see if we provide equitable opportunities, access to classroom tools and engagement options for every child?

I would like to think that we would see students engaging in way that is meaningful to them, to support their access to content, to show their knowledge of content taught, and independence in completion of whatever the task may be, i.e. quiz, project, writing. (If we are providing equity, no cheating!)

Let's go to the WHY.

Ultimately, as both teachers and parents, we want students to be successful. To be independent. To grow as excited and enthusiastic learners.

We use assistive technology so students can achieve just that. Students want to learn and grow, but it is much easier and fulfilling when they can do that in a way that best meets their needs.

Think of assistive technology as magical tools that encourage the idea that all things are possible.

And they are. With the right supports!

So, if you are wondering: What might be considered "cheating" in this particular scenario?

Looking at someone else's paper... same as it was back when I was in high school Chemistry.

#truth: I more than likely looked at someone else's paper... Chemistry just wasn't my thing!

For assistive technology tools and a myriad of other supports for children with disabilities and learning differences, check out our Facebook group.

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