Tuesday, May 27, 2014

EDUC7722 Week 7 Prompt #1 Assisstive Technology

For this week’s topic in Assistive Technology, our  discussion director had us focus Chapter 7 of Bryant and Bryant “Integrating Assistive Technology into Instruction”.  More specifically we were to delve into one of the software programs mentioned in the chapter and give feedback as to what the program does or how it is is used, and the pros and cons of using it in the classroom. I was interested to research a program that involved math and I decided on one that actually supported both math and science.

Efofex is a company which started in 1989, as a group of mathematics and science teachers wanting to computerise their work. They began designing software based on teachers' needs rather than a programmer's specification. The result was software for secondary math and science that closely matched teachers' expectations, all the while working with the mission to make the job easy for teachers and students. What I found most interesting about this product/software is its emPower program geared towards Special Needs Students. The company states that “Many students with physical disabilities find mathematics and science extremely difficult to write. The equations and graphics are too difficult to construct with standard tools. Our products are designed to make mathematics and science teacher's jobs easier but many students with special needs have found that they also provide the assistance they need. This serendipitous result has made the lives of many students much easier.” (Efofex)
Efofex provides students with Special Needs registration codes, for free, as long as documentation is provided in the form of a letter, on school (or equivalent institution) letterhead, that states that the student attends the school and suffers from a disability that makes mathematics and science materials difficult to produce. They do NOT need to know the nature of the disability - they just need the school to certify its existence. Students are then provided with a 10 year, personal use licence that allows them to install the software wherever they need it: at school, at home, wherever - providing it is only the student using the software. However, there is a cost for its use for non-special needs students.

The software available includes downloads for math -  FX Draw FX Equation FX Graph FX Stat and for science - FX Chem FXChemStruct FX Equation. All of which serve as tools and visual representations of skills and concepts related to both of those content areas. It can be downloaded via Windows or on a Mac computer. Support is offered through the sites support blog and if the need arises additional support regarding any other issues can always be sent to info@efofex.com. The site also posts a newsletter and provides video tutorials.
Any reviews that I found on this particular software were  contained on the website therefore the feedback was very positive. I also found this software listed in a variety of educator’s Blogs in a list of suggested supportive math/science materials. In my opinion the graphics were very clear, it appears easy to use especially in FX Draw and FX equation where you type an equation and the program puts the information in the appropriate place. As far as science is concerned FXChemStruct allows the teacher or students to easily construct chemical structures that are often difficult to draw. Although geared towards higher level math and science I can definitely see the benefits of using this program in the classroom for not only special needs students but also regular ed students, thereby embedding this into the classroom as a tool for ALL to use would prevent the singling out of those students in need.   

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