Students Find Their Flow with AT

 

Find My Flow screenshot of software

 

FindMyFlow is a modern-day companion for students with disabilities. While having access to assistive technology has opened up access to further and higher education for many students with disabilities, the range of AT that a student might be using and putting it into practice can be overwhelming.

We spoke to Sarah-Jane Peake, Co-founder of FindMyFlow, to find out more about it.

“FindMyFlow aims to make college work more manageable and helps students get the most out of their assistive technology by creating a bespoke learning path for each student, tailored to their specific software. While students will receive training in their recommended AT, it can be difficult to remember it all, particularly for students with dyslexia, for example,” explained Sarah-Jane.

“It has been designed by AT trainers and study tutors and each individual study flow focuses on strategies, rather than features. So, if a student with dyslexia needs to write an essay, their Flow will allow them to pick the best strategies from the software they have access to. For example, the student can create a mind map with MindView, get help with reading, writing and research from TextHelp and to dictate their work using Dragon.”

One of the key features of FindMyFlow is the 24/7 support, particularly important during remote learning. As new versions of the software are released and features change, they are captured by FindMyFlow and students can access training videos and support on any changes to their software to ensure they are getting the most of their AT.

Tutors can set actions within a student’s Flow to help keep the student focused and the student can prioritise tasks so they stay on track, which is a key feature according to Fiona Downey, Learning Support Coordinator with the Disability Support Service at MTU Cork (Munster Technological University).

“I find that a lot of the students we work with need help with time management and organisational skills so for them, Google calendar is an excellent tool. They can map out their classes and assignments and colour-code them. Working with them, we can break an assignment down and put deadlines in for each task,” said Fiona.

“Students might understand the essay question but really struggle with how to plan and prepare or how to write in an academic style. If you get those elements right, the rest becomes clearer and more straightforward. The essay writing study flow in FindMyFlow has lots of information on how to plan. For example, it will help them figure out how many words should go into the introduction, the main body and the conclusion. They can transfer information into a mind map if they wish.”

Fiona believes that FindMyFlow captures the learning strengths of all students by offering the choice of visuals, printable handouts and lots of audio content. The dashboard is attractive and colourful and it’s easy to navigate.

“The benefit of FindMyFlow is that it backs up the work that I do with them. They can watch a video on a topic that we have discussed to support what I have discussed with them.”

One of the challenges for students and learning support staff is ensuring that students become familiar with the assistive technology they have access to, which will ultimately improve their college experience. Fiona and her colleagues showcase FindMyFlow to students at orientation and try to get them to engage with it before the intensity of the workload starts. Fiona also encourages students to practise their AT for 15 minutes each day so that they can get the most out of it.

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