The SETT Framework: Evaluating Special Education Assistive Technology-TIE Conference Holyoke,Ma January 2014

On January 14th, I had
the opportunity to visit The “Technology in Education” Conference put
on by the collaborative.org organization in Holyoke, Ma at the Kittredge Center
at Holyoke Community College. It was my first visit to this conference and was
able to benefit from the small focused presentations made by educators
predominantly from the western part of the state. 
I was accepted as a
presenter for this conference and made a presentation to approximately 30
educators/administrators on the tools and resources for beginning a Mobile
Application Development course. I presented using a Google Presentation but
also included links to a website I am currently developing which contains all
of the lessons I have created for the Bunker Hill Community College 
Courses Mobile App
Development Certificate. I shared these resources and also a variety of videos
students in my classes have made of apps made in a Project-Based Learning
environment with technology. Here is a link to the resources and presentation.
After my presentation I
had the pleasure of sitting in on a fantastic presentation from Dale Gardner-Fox,
Jeanne Tuthill and Allegra Osborne. Their presentation “Are You SETT to
go?” outlined the barriers to successful Assistive technology
implementation in special education. They described the frustrating problems of
choosing tools which don’t fit students’ needs and abilities, lack of proper training,
environmental factors as well as the timeliness and appropriateness of the
assistive technology. 
The presenters described
and outlined the “SETT” model developed by Joy Zabala(http://www.joyzabala.com/) as a
beneficial process to help asset in best implementing assistive technology.
SETT stands for 
Students, Environment,
Task and Tools. Each one of these elements are collaboratively evaluated in
teams which take into account consideration of the student needs, selection of
proper technology, a plan for implementation and a process for evaluating the
effectiveness of the process.
The SETT framework
counters several large issues with assistive technology:
1. Poor implementation
and planning of Assistive technology.
2. Consistent and
Appropriate Use of Assistive Technology
3. Due to cognitive
weaknesses “Tech & Content” cannot be expected learning goals due
Cognitive failure.
4. Helps avoid
“learned helplessness”(when students perceive frustration to the
adaptation to the use of technology).
The SETT framework is a
four part model using a collaborative approach to using the technology we want
to use in the special education classroom. The stakeholder team makes things
happen and students in some instances can be part of this decision.
1. Student: When
addressing the students’ needs with assistive technology it is important to
carefully consider the selection of digital tools which take into consideration
the needs of the student and how they will be implemented into the classroom.
The consideration and
selection process should be continual and use the IEP as a guide.
Selection should be
based on what the stakeholders see the student as being able to do.
What barriers and
potential successes are available with the tools?  
Developing student
motivation to use the technology is beneficial for success.
The most important
factor with tools is that there is a plan for the evaluation of the
effectiveness which is done with a team approach including all stakeholders
relative to the student (paraprofessional, teacher, administrators, aides, parents). 
2. Environment: Determining
the environment in which the technology will be used is also a critical
component to the SETT framework. 
Data from the
environment should be collected from a variety of sources:
Strengths and Concerns
Physical Barriers
Expectations of others.
Outside of school
Possible low-tech
3. Tasks: What
is the point of the Tech?
It is important to
directly address the purpose of the technology and how it will be used.
Is it going home?
Is it connected to real
Do the tasks learned
align with active participation in all environments (communication, instruction,
productivity, environmental control)?
An assistive technology
plan helps keep accountability with the student.
4. Tools: The
tools are the choice of devices, applications, computer/web based technology
used in the classroom/home.
Devices should support
learning, communication and social goals (Intellitools, IPad, Apps).
Services and training
should support the staff and student needs.
Specific strategies
should be in place to create motivation with the tools (music, writing, normative
This framework enables a
real evaluation of how assistive tools can be used and supported in the
classroom. The critical components are that the major stakeholders are involved
in the decision making process and an alignment of the learning goals and
technology used is made as tools are chosen. This framework can also be used as
a district strategy for educating staff on the evaluation of assistive
technology by adjusting the model as a district vision.
S-Student=District Personnel
E-Environment=District Level Knowledge
T-Tasks=Staff Implementing Technology
T-Technology=Technology Both High & Low Tech
By replacing the
variables of the traditional model with district staff a plan for educating
your district with the beneficial strategies of assistive technology alignment
can be gained. A critical role in this process is the district level knowledge
of the importance of a plan with assistive technology and also the training
provided staff for the implementing of the technology into the classroom.

The training this
presentation provided was well conceived and beneficial to my workplace
environment as a high school digital learning specialist who works with devices
in the classroom and student strategies.

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