I've loved using technology in speech therapy since first laying my eyes on it. And by "it", I mean a clunky computer software application in college in the early 2000s. Now decades later, digital activities on iPads, smartboards, laptops, and teletherapy platforms enhance the lives of students and Speech-Language Pathologists in many ways.
Why should SLPs explore or continue to use technology with their students? In the last decade, my primary purpose has been because interactive, no-print resources make the most sense for teletherapy students.
But I recently asked the SLP Instagram community why they love using digital activities, and WOW. I related to several responses, but some were pretty eye-opening! Without further ado, check out all the ways that SLPs find technology to be beneficial!
Haul around fewer things.
Many SLPs work out of multiple rooms and buildings. Of course, many even travel to each child's home, school, or daycare. And toting around a trunk load of toys is not the preferred use of car space... or energy. A single device, loaded with tons of digital activities, is so much less cumbersome and more portable.
Storage space is limited.
Similarly, SLPs are not exactly known for their roomy treatment spaces... which is the understatement of the year. I used to thumb through bulky file cabinets in search of the perfect worksheet. When you can have it all a click away, is there a bigger waste of time or square footage than files of copies that you might use one day?
Have it all, all the time.
Embracing digital materials also means saying goodbye to not having what you need, when you need it. Your student finishes early and you need another activity ASAP? You want to switch targets mid-session? You'd like to change or add cues or supports? You want to quickly probe or get baseline information on a skill? With a toolbox of digital activities, you have a slew of options available all the time.
Change between tasks quickly.
Let's not forget about groups of students working on multiple goals. Rather than printing several copies, gathering multiple stacks of cards, or flipping between pages, digital resources make it seamless to transition between variations of the same task. In fact, students can help with the quick navigation to their targets, which helps build awareness and ownership.
Automate data collection.
Digital resources can make it easy to collect data. For example, assigned Boom Card decks will record data for you whether you're with the student or not. This automation frees up the SLP to fully interact with the student, take objective measures, and track progress.
Digital materials save paper.
Another obvious benefit of using digital speech therapy resources is that it saves you from printing... and dealing with that finicky printer. It's favorable for your mood and the environment– not to mention saving your print quota!
Digital activities save supplies and time, too!
Not only do paperless materials prevent you from rationing paper and ink throughout the year, but they save on lamination and Velcro too! Plus, the lack of running to the printer and prepping the pages frees up a lot of time. A minute saved is a minute earned.
We live in a digital age.
Now, how about our students? They were born into the 21st century and have been surrounded by modern information technology their whole lives. They understand the value of technology, and using it to gain information or complete a task is second nature.
And this level of comfort is a good thing. A recent research analysis by the National Skills Coalition found that 92% of the current U.S. job market requires digital skills. So it's pretty likely that our students will need some level of proficiency in using technology for most career paths, and in life! And as SLPs, we are all about equipping students with skills to be successful when they reach adulthood.
Our students love technology!
Using technology is not only helpful for developing digital literacy, but also motivating! Many (if not most) students are engaged when using devices. They might even see it as a reward, all the while they're still working on their goals. Win-win.
Re-energize your sessions.
Digital activities help you freshen up your sessions! Students will enjoy the change of pace and break from the usual routine. You can even combine a digital resource with a paper-based activity or a physical toy to change things up a bit.
Keep the germs at bay.
Coming out of the pandemic, many SLPs chose digital resources for the sake of cleanliness. And no doubt there are weeks (or months) when it seems like your whole caseload is coughing or congested, and preventing the spread of those germs feels like the biggest goal to target. Devices such as smart TVs or smartboards can often be used without anyone touching them, and iPads and computers are more wipeable (thank you, Clorox wipes) than most other materials.
Educational technology is evidence-based!
Lastly, digital activities support evidence-based learning strategies. Activities such as Boom Cards can provide immediate feedback to students. In addition to instant reinforcement or correction, digital resources facilitate peer modeling. For instance, a smartboard activity allows students to watch and learn from the responses of group members.
I've been a believer in utilizing technology in speech therapy since before the advent of the iPad, but creating this list was mind-blowing. Whether you're all digital materials all the time or just from time to time, there are SO. MANY. BENEFITS of digital activities that are awaiting both SLPs and students.
Learn more about different types of digital activities for speech therapy!