Apple – Education – Texas School for the Deaf, p. 1 of 4

Apple – Education – Texas School for the Deaf, p. 1

iBook Laptops Support Visual Learners

Austin, TX — When educators describe the K-12 student of today, they invariably use phrases like “digital natives” and “visual learners.” Nowhere are these descriptions more fitting than at Texas School for the Deaf (TSD). With a student population that is either entirely deaf or hard of hearing, TSD faces very unique challenges. But since the 1970s, Apple computers have been a key part of TSD’s curriculum. Now, with a 1 to 1 learning program based on wireless iBook laptop computers in place, TSD students and teachers are taking advantage of the rich visual potential of the Mac and digital resources.

Texas School for the Deaf was established in 1856. TSD Director of Technology Mari Liles says Apple computers have been a great fit for the school and its students for nearly 30 years.

“Our kids are so visual, and the Mac environment mastered the ‘visual learning’ piece of it right from the beginning,” observes Liles. “Now, with Mac OS X and the iLife suite, we have tools that are perfect for visual learners. Our high school kids are creating amazing digital graphics and video to demonstrate their understanding of curriculum concepts and subject matter. Students are also using Final Cut Pro to produce competition-worthy videos. Many of our students are doing things with the Mac that surpass their hearing counterparts.”

The iBook laptop computers offer our students the chance to do a lot more writing. They are much more comfortable communicating in sign language. But the laptops encourage them to write.

— Claire Bugen, Superintendent, Texas School for the Deaf

1 to 1 Learning Ideal for Deaf Students

TSD began its transition to 1 to 1 learning in the fall of 2003. Claire Bugen, school superintendent, says the concept of laptop-based learning grew out of several challenges that educators of the deaf routinely face.

“First, we wanted to increase the amount of access to information our kids would have,” Bugen explains. “If you can hear, learning is a lot more incidental — you can pick things up on the radio or TV. With our students, it’s a very different thing.

“Second,” Bugen continues, “our kids really are Second Language Learners. American Sign Language [ASL] is actually their first language … and there’s a huge difference between ASL and printed English. The iBook laptop computers offer our students the chance to do a lot more writing — something they previously detested, because they are much more comfortable communicating in sign language. But the laptops encourage them to write, increasing both the quality and quantity of their work.”

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