Thursday, February 10, 2005

Auditory Processing and E-Learning

In a recent survey of 10,000 children, researchers found that a startlingly high percentage were unable to comprehend information presented to them by auditory routes alone. 30 percent of children aged 4-6 could not comprehend sentences longer than 9 words through listening alone. Similar numbers of 9-10 year olds could not understand spoken sentences longer than 13 words. But there is an important flip side to this startling statistic. Most 9 to 10 year olds could readily comprehend longer sentences if they were provided in print. These findings raise an important question: is a strong functional preference for read versus spoken language a developmental issue, a learning disability, or highly preferred learning style? This question has great significance for the classroom, because children who have difficulty learning through auditory information may learn far more quickly and efficiently when provided with text.

There are several ways to present text, but E-Learning (electronic or computer-based learning, also written eLearning) will be an ideal resource for many children. Visual information, both text and pictures, can be tightly linked to auditory information on computer. Learning is self-paced. When acoustic information is presented, it comes from a fixed location straight-ahead with no competing sounds (children with asymmetric hearing have difficulty distinguishing words when speakers are moving or they turn away from them). Most films can be presented with close captioning (for instance, and many online classroom chats have the flexibility of text-based entry or online 'talking.' Online classrooms are often preferable for children with subtle auditory processing difficulties because there is less background noise from fellow classmates, a more orderly style of contributing (click on a hand icon to raise your hand), and more time to answer questions (individuals with auditory processing often benefit by delays or a slightly slower pace to interactive conversations). Many children who are quite silent regular classrooms "find their voice" online.

The benefits of E-Learning for children with auditory processing disorders can be immense. These children often gravitate quite naturally to the computer. It's important for more people to realize the many reasons why they do.

Excess teacher talk swamps children

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