Kennedy Krieger Institute uses new technology to engage students

BALTIMORE - Claire Donehower's class is brushing up on vocabulary and math skills.  Students are using a new type of Interactive Technology called Epson BrightLink.

"It's completely changed the way instruction occurs in our classroom.  I've had some of the students carry over from last year and their level of engagement has changed the ease with, which I move from one lesson to the next.  It's a huge visual screen for them to learn and manipulate," said Donehower.

Donehower has a class of nine students ranging from kindergarten to second grade.  They are mostly students with developmental delays.

Some have autism, cerebral palsy, behavior and emotional disorders.  The new technology helps the learning process.

"This technology will allow you to use any software with this piece of hardware so we can use a full range of instructional software from K to 12, which is what we serve and it brings them interactive and wraps them into the lesson," said David Toothe, Associate Director of Information Systems for Special Education at Kennedy Krieger.

BrightLink is a multipurpose projector with an interactive white board.  Students can hear sounds, write letters and numbers with a touch of a marker.

"It allows them to use hand motor skills to allow them to participate in the lesson rather than sit and watch and just be stationary," said Toothe.

With six locations, over 600 students and just as many staff, Kennedy Krieger Institute's School programs in Maryland are a place where students with special needs thrive with the help of this latest technology to aid in learning.

Educators admit it can be challenging to find innovative classroom technology that helps students with special needs and meets budgetary constraints.

"I think a couple of the challenges in the special needs population is impulse.  One thing they don't do is raise their hands and wait their turn.  This provides an opportunity for a lot of kids to participate at one time and do it in a more structured way using BrightLink," said Donehower.

Kennedy Krieger installed 17 BrigthLinks on all six campuses.  They have more on order to help with interactive learning.


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