Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The SETT Framework: Evaluating Special Education Assistive Technology-TIE Technology-Holyoke, Ma

On January 14th, I had the opportunity to visit The "Technology in Education" Conference put on by the organization in Holyoke, Ma at the Kittredge Center at Holyoke Community College. It was my first visit to this conference and was able to benefit from the small focused presentations made by educators predominantly from the western part of the state. 

I was accepted as a presenter for this conference and made a presentation to approximately 30 educators/administrators on the tools and resources for beginning a Mobile Application Development course. I presented using a Google Presentation but also included links to a website I am currently developing which contains all of the lessons I have created for the Bunker Hill Community College 
Courses Mobile App Development Certificate. I shared these resources and also a variety of videos students in my classes have made of apps made in a Project-Based Learning environment with technology. Here is a link to the resources and presentation.

After my presentation I had the pleasure of sitting in on a fantastic presentation from Dale Gardner-Fox, Jeanne Tuthill and Allegra Osborne. Their presentation "Are You SETT to go?" outlined the barriers to successful Assistive technology implementation in special education. They described the frustrating problems of choosing tools which don't fit students’ needs and abilities, lack of proper training, environmental factors as well as the timeliness and appropriateness of the assistive technology. 

The presenters described and outlined the "SETT" model developed by Joy Zabala( as a beneficial process to help asset in best implementing assistive technology. SETT stands for 
Students, Environment, Task and Tools. Each one of these elements are collaboratively evaluated in teams which take into account consideration of the student needs, selection of proper technology, a plan for implementation and a process for evaluating the effectiveness of the process.

The SETT framework counters several large issues with assistive technology:
1. Poor implementation and planning of Assistive technology.
2. Consistent and Appropriate Use of Assistive Technology
3. Due to cognitive weaknesses "Tech and Content" cannot be expected learning goals due to
Cognitive failure.
4. Helps avoid "learned helplessness"(when students perceive frustration to the adaptation to the use of technology).

The SETT framework is a four part model using a collaborative approach to using the technology we want to use in the special education classroom. The stakeholder team makes things happen and students in some instances can be part of this decision.

1. Student: When addressing the students’ needs with assistive technology it is important to carefully consider the selection of digital tools which take into consideration the needs of the student and how they will be implemented into the classroom.
·         The consideration and selection process should be continual and use the IEP as a guide.
·         Selection should be based on what the stakeholders see the student as being able to do.
·         What barriers and potential successes are available with the tools?  
·         Developing student motivation to use the technology is beneficial for success.
·         The most important factor with tools is that there is a plan for the evaluation of the effectiveness which is done with a team approach including all stakeholders relative to the student (paraprofessional, teacher, administrators, aides, parents). 
2. Environment: Determining the environment in which the technology will be used is also a critical component to the SETT framework. 
Data from the environment should be collected from a variety of sources:
·         Strengths and Concerns
·         Physical Barriers
·         Expectations of others.
·         Outside of school environment.
·         Possible low-tech adaptations
3. Tasks: What is the point of the Tech?
It is important to directly address the purpose of the technology and how it will be used.
·         Is it going home?
·         Is it connected to real goals?
·         Do the tasks learned align with active participation in all environments (communication, instruction, productivity, environmental control)?
An assistive technology plan helps keep accountability with the student.

4. Tools: The tools are the choice of devices, applications, computer/web based technology used in the classroom/home.
·         Devices should support learning, communication and social goals (Intellitools, IPad, Apps).
·         Services and training should support the staff and student needs.
·         Specific strategies should be in place to create motivation with the tools (music, writing, normative activities).

This framework enables a real evaluation of how assistive tools can be used and supported in the classroom. The critical components are that the major stakeholders are involved in the decision making process and an alignment of the learning goals and technology used is made as tools are chosen. This framework can also be used as a district strategy for educating staff on the evaluation of assistive technology by adjusting the model as a district vision.

S-Student=District Personnel
E-Environment=District Level Knowledge
T-Tasks=Staff Implementing Technology
T-Technology=Technology Both High & Low Tech

By replacing the variables of the traditional model with district staff a plan for educating your district with the beneficial strategies of assistive technology alignment can be gained. A critical role in this process is the district level knowledge of the importance of a plan with assistive technology and also the training provided staff for the implementing of the technology into the classroom.