Edmonton Public Schools
Helping to shape the future of every classroom in Edmonton PS
Edmonton Public School District is the second largest district in Alberta and the sixth largest in Canada. It comprises 202 schools and a student enrollment of almost 90,000. It is the second largest school district in Alberta.
Edmonton Public Schools is helping to shape the future in every one of its classrooms - they are focused on ensuring each student learns to their full potential and develops the ability, passion and imagination to pursue their dreams and contribute to their community.
For Edmonton, there was always a large population of the school community that were ESL learners.
The district simply didn’t have the resources to spend hundreds of dollars on technology that might or might not be effective, and so they needed a cost-effective solution that would bring real change to learners, as well as being a great teaching tool.
The issue that the District always had was that they would continually apply a specialized piece of software to something that most students essentially did not require.
The school would invest a high proportion of money for one program that would be localized to one computer, which would then make it difficult to actually utilize the software for all-class learning. This was compounded by the fact that only a few members of staff were trained to assist special educational needs students.
The district had “gone Google” very early on, which helped when they decided to adopt Read & Write for Google as the transition was seamless. The impulse to adopt Read&Write was motivated by a desire to make use of a proven piece of software that the district knew the students would respond well to.
The fact that Read&Write was the first to market and had a broader featured set was also immediately evident- the software became a single stop shop that practitioners at Edmonton could easily rely on for all their teaching needs.
Will Rice, part of the Educational Technology Planning team at Edmonton, claimed that the technology had an instantly recognisable impact on learners, especially in their capacity to learn and develop.
He said that the technology ‘lowered barriers to students helping themselves’ and also helped increase general student confidence, progressed learning capabilities and even encouraged students to work at home outside of lessons.
With all students having access to the tool, it means it is more likely that students will make use of them, while also reducing the need for teachers to be on hand for students constantly.
Speech to Text has been considerably helpful for teachers by freeing up time and being an inclusive learning tool for all students. The tool is particularly innovative for students who don’t have the confidence to speak up in lessons if they’re having trouble by allowing them a new vehicle to express their difficulties outside of the classroom.
Now, more people than ever are empowered to access our services independently and participate within the community.”
Texthelp’s Read&Write for Google has been utilized in a number of different capacities in Edmonton schools.
It has been a really powerful tool for transforming the different ways that students can learn- particularly with the ESL students.
One of the greatest outcomes has been the remarkable student engagement. Practitioners at the school claimed they had witnessed students engage with the technology more so than any other assistive technology, and that the support from Texthelp staff had been particularly comprehensive and immediately on hand.
The school also utilizes the software’s word prediction functionality extensively, pinpointing this as a key tool for use in learning environments with learners form both a special needs background and from a general education background.
The open access functionality has been really favorable for the student body, and has really broken down barriers in terms of learning capacity. What were once quite difficult problems to overcome have now been smoothed out, and teachers have been increasingly impressed by the improving literacy levels in the classroom.
Another favorable capability is the word prompt feature. With some students becoming often stuck or uncertain, this tool continually came up with different words that would inspire students where they might usually be unable to progress.
Teachers have also commented on the use of Read&Write in a teaching capacity. Teachers sometimes play sentences over the smartboard while students listen and they change accents and can slow down the speech if it is too fast for some students. They can also take out all the periods and commas and ask the students to fix the punctuation.
Lastly, Read&Write for Google has been remarkable with Edmonton students by being able to connect with the students by relating back to how they are using technology in their personal lives.
When teachers show a students what word prediction is, they instantly recognize the capability as they are already doing this on their phone when they are texting and their phone is autocorrecting for them.
Randy said “It especially relates to kids because they are saying ‘wow,’ I am already using this and my parents are using it” so it makes the use of Texthelp all the more familiar.