The Dynamic Duo in Teletherapy: Screen Share and Mouse Control
Does it seem kind of like speech teletherapists have their own language? When I started teletherapy 6 years ago, I didn't know what "screen-sharing" was. I couldn't have explained why "mouse control" is useful... at least not the kind that's unrelated to the management of rodents (bad multiple-meaning words joke).
But it wasn't long until I realized that these features take teletherapy to a whole 'notha level. Screen share and mouse control are more than just a couple of nerdy computer phrases, they are the secret sauce for making teletherapy interactive.
In this example, the SLP is screen-sharing a PDF in which students can "vote" in various polls. The PDF is open in a window outside of the platform, but those in the session can still see it. This works great for larger files that may be too big to load within a platform, or would lose their interactive features (such as the clickable checkboxes) when opened in a PDF reader program.
What is screen sharing in teletherapy?
Screen sharing means that you (as the SLP leading the session) are showing a window or program that's open on your computer screen to your students. The students are able to view the window from within the teletherapy platform, but you have the program open separately (outside of the platform) on your computer.
In this example, a PDF of articulation cards is opened in Adobe Reader, which is then screen-shared using Zoom.
How do you screen-share in teletherapy?
The step-by-step is specific to the teletherapy platform you're using, so definitely take the time to learn and practice ahead of time. It's often as simple as googling, "How to screen share on [x]". The logistics take a few minutes to figure out, but it is worth it to have screen-sharing as an option for any session.
One consideration for screen-sharing in teletherapy is how many monitors you have available to use in teletherapy sessions.
Screen-sharing with 1 Monitor
If you have one monitor, then both the platform window and the window you're sharing (a spring following directions Boom Cards activity in this case) will be open on the same screen. You can arrange those two windows however you want in terms of their size and position on the desktop. The window that you're sharing will show up inside of the platform too.
Screen-Sharing with 2 Monitors
If you have two monitors, you can put the teletherapy platform on your main monitor, and the window that you want to screen share on your second monitor. When you select the screen sharing feature on most platforms, you are prompted to select which window (or desktop) you'd like to share.
What types of activities can you screen share?
The question should be, "Are there any activities that you can't screen-share?" because you can basically share anything! As long as it's a program or application that you can open on your computer, you can show it to students via screen-sharing. The student does not need to have the same software installed to view your screen!
I like to screen share a variety of activities in teletherapy sessions:
Interactive PDFs using Adobe Reader that you can click or type on
Software applications (like PowerPoint games!)
What is Mouse Control when Screen-Sharing?
Some teletherapy and video conferencing platforms have a remote mouse control feature. This means that the person sharing their screen can grant another person the ability to temporarily control the window or application while it's being shared.
In teletherapy, that means that once the SLPs screen-shares the activity, they can give a student the ability to control that window with their mouse.
For example, when sharing a summer-themed interactive PDF using Adobe Reader you can give the student mouse control. This way, they'd be able to type in the text boxes rather than you (the SLP) doing it.
When sharing a website like this Make A Cake activity, mouse control enables the student to be the one actually clicking to make and decorate the cake. If you're sharing a Boom Card activity, the student is able to click on answers or drag and drop pieces on the card.
Giving mouse control to students isn't always, well, the best move. Of course, some students don't have computer mouse skills yet. Some students may get a little "click-happy" and have difficulty only interacting with the activity being used. Sometimes mouse control can decrease a student's communication. Additionally, not all teletherapy platforms have a mouse control feature.
So do you need both of these features? Or is just one okay? What if your teletherapy platform doesn't have either one? Think of it this way.... if screen sharing is the pie, mouse control is the whipped topping. Mouse control makes screen sharing that much better. But just as no one ever needs dessert (although that's debatable), you don't need either one to do effective teletherapy. They just make therapy a whole lot sweeter.
Once you've mastered screen-sharing and giving mouse control, step up your teletherapy game even more by learning how to split your screen in teletherapy sessions! When you can share two resources simultaneously, you have tons of versatility in supporting your students and supplementing activities.
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