The Impact of Technology on Teaching, Clinical Practice, and Research In 1965, Gordon Moore, one of the cofounders of Intel, predicted that the power of integrated computer circuits would double every 18 months. His astounding prophecy proved so accurate that it is now referred to as “Moore’s Law.” The domain of technology now includes multimedia—combining audio, video, music, text, graphics, ... Features
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Features  |   June 11, 2002
The Impact of Technology on Teaching, Clinical Practice, and Research
Author Notes
  • Terry L. Hallett, is an assistant professor at The University of Akron, Ohio where she conducts research in neurolinguistics, language and literacy learning, and educational technology. Contact her by email at hallett@uakron.edu.
    Terry L. Hallett, is an assistant professor at The University of Akron, Ohio where she conducts research in neurolinguistics, language and literacy learning, and educational technology. Contact her by email at hallett@uakron.edu.×
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Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / Normal Language Processing / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Features
Features   |   June 11, 2002
The Impact of Technology on Teaching, Clinical Practice, and Research
The ASHA Leader, June 2002, Vol. 7, 4-13. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR1.07112002.4
The ASHA Leader, June 2002, Vol. 7, 4-13. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR1.07112002.4
In 1965, Gordon Moore, one of the cofounders of Intel, predicted that the power of integrated computer circuits would double every 18 months. His astounding prophecy proved so accurate that it is now referred to as “Moore’s Law.”
The domain of technology now includes multimedia—combining audio, video, music, text, graphics, animation, and special effects to convey meaning. Technology allows us to bring together information from multiple sources and multiple forms into a single presentation.
The effect of adopting these technologies is so great that describing the impact they will have on our professions in teaching, clinical practice, and research is a challenging task. The overall goal is modest: Make it real. Abstraction is one of the highest accomplishments of human intelligence, but we can’t assume that students, clients, parents, and other professionals are capable of abstraction when they are learning something for the first time. We can teach others to develop their abilities by basing what we teach them in reality.
Experience—knowing something because it has been directly seen, heard, felt, or otherwise sensed—is a powerful teaching tool. In contrast, traditional text-based methods convey abstract information. Technology can improve learning by giving classroom, clinical, and research presentations a more complex, experience-like quality. More subtly, by providing instant access to factual knowledge, technology i ncreases the importance of understanding and reduces the importance of memorization.
Technology also accelerates the rate of growth and change in society. This alters the demands on future teachers, clinicians, and researchers in several ways. They must prepare for a life of adaptation and learning. The learning process becomes more important than any particular material learned, which may become obsolete, be proven wrong, or may be overwhelmed by new knowledge. Technology also promotes instant communication, which facilitates collaboration and learning.
Composing Multimedia Materials
The real power of multimedia technology lies in the control that the computer provides. Once material is recorded in a digitized (computer readable) format, it can be edited, composed with other material, and communicated using a variety of methods. Digital cameras can capture video and still images in digitized form to be transferred directly to the computer. Images from any digital source, including the Internet, may also be used directly. Web cameras can be used in telecommunications for video email and real-time video calls. Video and still images can be edited for content, cropped, and framed. Color and brightness may be adjusted and sound added. Non-computer format material, such as videocassette recorder (VCR) tapes, must be converted using a special device.
Multimedia material may be composed using presentation (e.g., Microsoft PowerPoint) or Web browser software (e.g., Netscape Navigator). Presentation software provides a user-friendly interface for organizing materials. Most also allow presentations to be saved in HTML, which can be read by any Web browser and distributed over the Internet. Once a multimedia presentation is prepared, it may be stored and distributed via a variety of methods including computer hard drives, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM. LCD projectors display presentations directly from the computer. External speakers to supplement sound quality are also useful.
Teaching ApplicationsMultimedia Software
Inexpensive, commercially available software can effectively demonstrate the development of the central nervous system or disease and injury to anatomical systems. For example, anatomy and physiology software can take students on a three-dimensional journey through the brain, the inner workings of the human ear, and the speech mechanism. Views can be rotated, magnified, or frozen to demonstrate cellular changes that occur within the brain, such as those that result from stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, or other neurological disorders. Animations effectively illustrate intricate processes such as the action of tools used to remove arterial plaque and the build up of beta amyloid protein in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients.
Electronic Case Studies
Creating educational materials allows teachers to incorporate their own teaching philosophy and methods into classroom presentations. At the University of Akron, electronic case studies illustrate traumatic brain injury. Formal test results and client behaviors demonstrate a variety of symptoms including word retrieval problems, attention deficits, and impulsivity. Disrupted neural networks are depicted to expose the underlying pathophysiology such as global axonal damage and liquefied brain cells. Students then analyze the patient’s cognitive communication skills within a large-group format, and engage in small-group discussions to problem solve, diagnose, and provide recommendations for treatment based on the electronic case study. Later, the students reassemble into a large group to collaborate, share ideas, and compare results.
Multimedia technology allows teachers to compose effective presentations in advance. Time spent developing material is cumulative, since materials may be rearranged and reused with total control. With practice, faculty develop a director’s eye for content. Another major payoff for adopting the technology is that, during presentation, the technology does much of the work, leaving faculty free to attend to students and observe the classroom.
Clinical Applications
Diagnostic Tools
Electronic Portfolios for Clients Digital technology can enhance client diagnosis by allowing controlled review of video observations using freeze frame, slow motion, and replay of selected behaviors. These observations may be saved on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM disks and easily added to client files. Additional relevant observations may be appended to the client data to create a short historical record allowing comparison of related client behaviors over time. Consultation can be accomplished by sharing client observations with other diagnosticians and clinicians across the country while consulting in real time via computer cams. Patients and their families can view pathological conditions such as vocal nodules and hemorrhagic irritations that frequently result from vocally abusive behaviors.
This computer-enhanced observation and selection of relevant behaviors provides a highly effective supplement to client/patient documentation. It can be accumulated in the course of intervention and provides a convenient method of review immediately before treatment sessions.
Electronic Portfolios for Supervisors Super-vision also may be made more effective using digital technology. Clinician and client behavior may be scrutinized. Ineffective techniques may be identified and reviewed with student clinicians. Effective techniques may be saved, accumulated, and shared. The accumulated digital information about specific speech, language, or hearing disorders might also be indexed to produce a reference of conditions and effective intervention strategies. Peer review could also be enhanced using selected observations.
Electronic Portfolios for Clinicians Several universities across the country are requiring students to create their own electronic portfolios. These collections of videos, sounds, graphics, text, pictures, and music demonstrate student capabilities. They may include the clinician conducting treatment with different types of clients (e.g., stroke patients, school-age children, and adolescents), administering formal tests, or using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. Documents such as resumes, professional memberships, activities, honors, awards, diagnostic reports, therapy projects, and skill summaries also may be included. Additional materials can be appended to the portfolios over time. Work samples visually demonstrate skills and accomplishments and document progress in acquiring skills and competencies needed to be a successful clinician. This benefits both faculty and students. Materials can be used or adapted to other applications such as skill assessment, job interviews, and electronic journals. The portfolios may be presented on CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or Web-based with HTML and XML.
Intervention Tools
Electronic Storybooks
Electronic tools offer enticing new opportunities for therapy. Commercially available CD-ROM storybooks may be used to facilitate literacy and language learning. For example, Living Books by Broderbund are electronic versions of either narrative or expository texts that combine high-quality animations and graphics with speech, sound, music, and special effects with text. Short clauses of highlighted words are displayed on the computer screen and simultaneously spoken by a narrator providing a visual focus for children with language/learning disorders (LLD). Users control the pace at which the story pages are turned as they attend to word-by-word or line-by-line reading cues. In addition, animation and special effects may improve the quality of the story model by providing multi-sensory cues to children with language and literacy disorders who might otherwise ignore important contextual information.
Internet-Based Strategies
Students with LLD frequently have difficulty with social conversational skills such as turn taking, asking and answering questions, initiating and maintaining topics, and engaging in socially appropriate greeting and closing remarks. The structured environment of the Internet instant message system imposes turn-taking and enforces conversational skills. Additionally, real-time conversations remain on the screen as visual text so students need not hold the message in auditory memory.
An Internet-based treatment project implemented by the author was designed to promote language and literacy skills for students with LLD. Students communicated with peers in a nearby school district via the Internet using instant messages, and emailed personal letters and drawings. The project created an environment filled with language use giving students the opportunity to exchange information within a social context. The students communicated a variety of social purposes, such as requesting, informing, explaining, and suggesting.
In another similar project, students with LLD exchanged information in writing via the Internet, describing how to create masks, toys, and other products to readers in two nearby school districts. By following the instructions, students were able to create identical products: crossword puzzles, Halloween masks, toys, and pinball games.
Electronic Tutorials
The author is also developing an electronic tutorial for parents and childcare providers. As parents witness the process that children go through as they move from crying to cooing, babbling, first words, sentences, and then to higher level metalinguistic experiences, parents can learn facilitative techniques that promote language and literacy learning.
Research Applications
Electronic Tools
Electronic tools offer researchers a variety of applications in the academic, clinical, or medical setting. A new contribution may be found in the standardization and control of stimuli and improved observation and measurement. Rewind and freeze frame methods enhance empirical observation. For example, researchers can systematically examine subtle changes in behavior such as eye gaze, gestures, and body orientation. Exhibited patterns of behavior may be captured, organized, and viewed using techniques similar to those used clinically. Where multiple evaluators are to measure results, standardization may be achieved through training and collaboration. Improved documentation of the measurement process also can be achieved.
Electronic Presentations
Electronic tools also may be incorporated into a variety of research presentations. For instance, researchers may want to present video clips of client behaviors along with scripts of text to describe various types of speech and language characteristics. Digital output from medical diagnostic processes may be reused in presentations. Examples include 3-D sonograms, brain images, fetal surgery, and microscopic views of stem cells. Charts and graphs that illustrate changes in particular types of client behaviors over time may be supplemented with video to bring data to life.
Classroom Research
Teaching affords a unique opportunity to observe and experiment with the learning process. Learning is a remarkably complex process: Neural imaging provides evidence that learning is accompanied by the simultaneous activation of multiple areas of the brain, including those associated with auditory, visual, and other physical senses. These same areas are activated during recall. This suggests that learning may be enhanced with multimedia stimulation similar to that provided by experience. Incorporating electronic materials into the classroom and distance learning environments becomes an experiment in learning. Integrating these multimodal messages into the learning process seems most effective when students are able to interact.
Reality is a more powerful communication or motivating technique than conventional pictures or abstract words. Animation, graphics, video, audio, and special effects enrich the learning experience. Students may be more highly motivated, and both learning rates and retention may improve.
Perhaps the most important fact about these technologies is that Moore’s Law is still at work. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what will be the value of an interactive, three-dimensional, holographic, full-color image? As of today, multimedia provides powerful tools that can make us more effective as teachers, clinicians, and researchers. The tools have grown in power and usability to the point that now, every effort to incorporate technology can be expected to pay for itself. Because the growth will continue, the role of technology in our work will continue to expand. So in an important sense, getting involved with technology has just become a genuine ground floor opportunity.
Technology References and Additional Readings
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Bernstein, P. (1997). Moving multimedia: The information value in images. Searcher, 5, 40–49.
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Hallett, T. (1999). Multimedia materials for language and literacy learning. Reading Horizons, 40, 147–158.
Hallett, T. (1999). Multimedia materials for language and literacy learning. Reading Horizons, 40, 147–158.×
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Markham, T., & Lenz, B. (2002). Ready for the world. Educational Leadership, 59, 76–80.×
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June 2002
Volume 7, Issue 11