It all began with word processing and databases. And it didn't seem long before speech-language pathologists were online, learning new skills and adapting technology to meet their clinical and record-keeping needs. Progress was limited at first to writing reports and research, but with the birth of apps and computer tablets, mobile technology took a new turn and everyone was in the mix. School-based SLPs jumped on the technology wagon, discovering new uses for the new technology.
The sky is the limit
In the April 3, 2012, Leader, Sean Sweeney wrote about five ways SLPs can use technology to help them perform assessments and write Individualized Education Programs. For example, you can record classroom observations on your mobile device and send them to your e-mail account to upload to your assessment report. Sweeney also notes how you can use video and audio recording apps to record and track student progress and creative play apps to motivate students while informally assessing their real-world communication skills.
Who hasn't dreaded scheduling challenges? Simple apps provide information about available dates and times for meetings. The Common Core State Standards app features state standards by grade for language arts and the rationale for each. Sweeney's article is well worth pasting on your bulletin board. The article includes resources, cost and access information.
In another column (May 15, 2012), Sweeney explains how mobile apps and Web resources can trim time from your workload. He advocates using Google Docs to create and store frequently used documents. Other apps, such as Toontastic can produce lessons that combine audio and animation targeting students' IEP goals.
Judith Kuster has been mining Internet resources over the years. Her online Leader columns guide readers to free Internet resources, including interactive sites, reproducible material, templates for creating treatment materials, and apps. Kuster organizes these according to language, alternative and augmentative communication, autism spectrum disorders, speech sounds, cleft palate, fluency, hearing, and voice treatment materials. Links to 50 of these sites are provided at her Web page.
ASHA's digital communication trek
In 1995, ASHA established the first www.asha.org site and hired its first webmaster. In December 1996, there had been 3,296 visits to the site that month. By November 2012, that number had grown to more than 1.4 million. And then there's social media. ASHA has used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to communicate with, and foster communication among, members for more than four years. Over the past few years, the number of communication sciences and disorders students, SLPs and audiologists using social media for personal and professional purposes has skyrocketed: The ASHA Facebook page has more than 40,000 fans and is one of the top sources of traffic to the ASHA website. In 2010, ASHA launched ASHAsphere, a blog showcasing posts from ASHA staff and members, and in 2011, the ASHA Community replaced the previous ASHA discussion forums and listservs.
Most recently ASHA has built a presence on Pinterest—a popular way for SLPs, audiologists, students, teachers and consumers to discover and share ideas about treatment, classroom organization, study resources and more. Pinterest lets you organize and share images that you find on the web. Check out this ASHAsphere post for more information on how an SLP uses Pinterest. Only a couple of years old, ASHA's Pinterest page has 5,606 followers.
And the technological changes will only keep going. Technology is moving faster than ever, and there are countless ways it can make communication professionals' jobs more and more effective.