January 2016
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Technology & Learning Connections Regional Meetings

Region 1
May 5-6, 2016

Region 2
April 27-28, 2016

Region 3
April 7-8, 2016

Region 4
April 19-20, 2016

Region 5
April 7-8, 2016

Technology Advisory Committee Meetings

April 4-5, 2016

May 24, 2016

Environmental Communication Training (ECT)

One-Day Overview
April 7, 2016

April 21, 2016

Team Training & Facilitator Days
March 3-4, 2016
April 14-15, 2016
Ft. Lauderdale
Feb 18-19, 2016
May 2-3, 2016

Feb 25-26, 2016
April 25-26, 2016

June 10-12, 2015


For more information on regional meetings and training events, please contact your regional technology coordinator.

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"Technology & Learning Connections - MTSS: Increasing student 
achievement through the systemic alignment of technology, policies, 
and curriculum in a multi-tiered system of supports." 
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vrVirtual Reality
facing of woman with images of screens circling around her head
Virtual Reality has the power to completely transform education. Students can visit Ancient Rome, take a trip through the human body as a blood cell, or even visit Mars. Exploration becomes dynamic as students interact with the learning environment in ways never thought of such as navigating through the bloodstream and identifying pathogens or coming face-to-face with a Roman soldier. These immersive worlds become more than just a learning activity, but rather an experience that was lived and felt real.

From a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) perspective, virtual reality and virtual worlds offer some unique considerations. 
  • What does UDL look like in a place where all abilities are virtual? Virtual reality truly offers new ways to design engaging learning environments for all students.
  • What does it mean to be a peer in virtual reality? In a place where everyone can run, walk, fly, swim, skydive, climb mountains, etc., who are your peers?
  • Is there an impact on social interactions when a student can design the virtual characteristics of their avatar?

There are fully accredited schools operating in virtual reality where students go to school via their avatars. Consider the questions above when thinking about going to school in virtual reality. And then think about how we can make sure students with disabilities are fully included in this new digital revolution. 


Welcome to 2016. It is going to be an amazing year!

vrworldsVirtual Destinations
Pack your bags! Using virtual reality technology, students can completely immerse themselves in faraway locations and impossible to reach places. A variety of videos are also available as interactive 360 degree tours that can be viewed without headsets. Take a look at these five great destinations.

small lush green island surrounded by water
The Wild Within 360 Wildlife Video is an interactive tour of coastal British Columbia. Viewers are able to explore breathtaking scenes that include rain forests, alpine water falls, and coastal waters. The 360 video  can be viewed on most VR headset as well as computers and mobile devices.
view of a tree covered canyon
The North Face: Climb takes viewers to Moab, Utah and Yosemite National Park to experience the thrill of rock climbing and base jumping. It can be viewed with or without a VR headset and is available for iPhone, Android, Samsung Gear and Oculus Rift. Download information is available at http://www.jauntvr.com/content.
areal view looking out over a valley landscape
Over the Alps puts the viewer in a hot air balloon over the French Alps. Navigation includes walking around the basket and looking down and around to discover mountains, cliffs, rivers, villages, farms, and fields. This content is only available for Oculus Rift.
old wooden boat resting on the sea floor with fish swimming around
Ocean Rift is a virtual tour of the underwater world. A variety of sea life will be encountered, including dolphins, tropical fish, turtles, sea snakes, rays, sharks, and whales. Those that dare explore the darkest depths may even encounter Megladon. Ocean Rift is available for Samsung Gear and Oculus Rift. 
view from space showing earth in foreground_ moon off to right and sun filling the background
Titans of Space takes the viewer on a short guided tour of several planets and stars. The user is able to look around, zoom, read information on the celestial body, rotate the planets or moons and even enter orbit. Titans of Space was developed to be used with Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear, and Oculus Rift. It supports 15 languages.  

headsetsChoosing a Virtual Reality Headset

foldable cardboard goggles

Google Cardboard is a great starter headset with pricing from $11.99-$19.99. They are compatible with 3.5-6 inch smartphones and come in a variety of colors. These work best with the Google Cardboard VR apps. 
black plastic goggles
The Destek headset is compatible with 4-6 inch smartphones. It can be used to view traditional photo slideshows and videos as well as Google Cardboard apps.  An optional Bluetooth remote control is also available for navigation and game play. $39.99-44.58
white and black goggles
Samsung Gear is specifically designed to be used with with Galaxy smartphones including the Note5, S6, S6 edge, and  S6 edge+. The headset is powered by the phone and includes built-in navigation controls including a touchpad. Device pictures and videos can be viewed and the headset comes with a library of highly immersive VR content. Additional content is available from the Oculus library. $99+
large black goggles with wire extending from them

Oculus Rift is for serious gamers and developers. This headset does not run on mobile devices and is intended for laptop and desktop computers that meet certain graphic requirements. A separate wired sensor is used to determine movement of the user. This device is compatible with Xbox and includes an Xbox One Controller.  $599+
stereoscopic view of eiffel tower

Google Maps has added a new feature to their Street View feature that allows the user, in four simple steps, to view any Street View location in virtual reality.
  1. Make sure your smartphone is horizontal.
  2. Open a location in Street View in Google Maps.
  3. Double-tap the icon in the lower-right that turns the image stereoscopic (split in two).
  4. Insert your phone into Google Cardboard.
mathscienceMath & Science Virtual Worlds
Providing curriculum-based technology supports in math and science such as graphic-rich, interactive simulations can increase academic engagement for students. 

animated scene of an island and two avatars. One of the avatars has popups around her head showing different symbols.
Games for Science is a collection of virtual
islands. Each location has its own unique scientific dilemma where students will interact, see videos, learn vocabulary, and solve problems.  Traveling to the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve students learn to protect common eiders, terns, and the moss that populate the island. They gain valuable knowledge about ecosystems and how to preserve them.

animated scene showing two characters in the foreground standing by a dock and lake that has green algae on it
Citizen Science takes students to Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin, where the lake is threatened by eutrophication. The player must not only focus on the lake's ecological needs, but the impact of the surrounding community as well. Players learn about biodiversity, biology, ecology, and plants while their problem-solving capabilities are put to the test. Using all they learn, players work to restore the lake to a healthy state.

animated scene of a castle in the background with a field in front that shows x3 and x5 on rising up from the ground
Mathbreakers is a 3-D math game for students grades 1-6.  After students have named and designed their avatar they are able to freely explore a colorful and engaging world of mathematical operations or complete a lesson from the program library. As students practice math skills they are able to collect specially designed tools such as the Zooka, Multi-blaster,  Multiplier, and Jetpack.

animated image of a space creature holding the numbers 6 6 5 7 5 0
Math Blaster takes students on an intergalactic voyage where they discover other worlds while completing various games and activities covering multiple math topics. Students begin the game as a Space Cadet and create their own unique avatars. As students increase in rank and collect rewards along the way they are able to add customized items. 
addresourcesAdditional Accessibility Resources
Students with disabilities can have a difficult time interacting with the navigational features of computers, tablets, and mobile devices thereby making engaging and interactive programs inaccessible. The technologies below are some examples of assistive technology that can reduce these barriers. Click here to see even more assistive technologies.

laptop computer with a blank blue screen
Camera Mouse is a free Windows download that enables the computer's built-in camera to control the mouse pointer. The cursor is controlled by head movement and clicks are accomplished by location dwelling. The system works best with programs that only require left clicks of the mouse and do not contain small targets that require precision pointing. 

PC Eye Go device is small blank rectangular object with the tobii written on the face.
The Tobii PCEye GO is a peripheral eye tracker that enhances computer accessibility through gaze  interaction and replaces the standard mouse. The user is able to navigate and control a desktop, laptop, or Surface Pro tablet using only their eyes. 

white platform mouse with red_ blue_ and green oversized buttons and a large yellow trackball in the center
The SAM Trackball is a mouse replacement with bright over-sized buttons and ports for adding switches. The device functions like a 2-button mouse, but utilizes a large rotating ball for cursor movement.

intellikeys keyboards with an overlay showing an A B C overlay and large cursor keys. In the foreground is another overlay showing an even larger cursor pad
The IntelliKeys Keyboard is an alternative keyboard designed to meet the needs of students with physical disabilities. The keyboard is touch-sensitive and completely customizable, including an overlay for mouse navigation. 
newsupdatesNews & Updates

Least Restrictive Environment Tap

small image of stacked documents January 15, 2016 the Florida Department of Education issue the technical assistance paper (TAP), Least Restrictive Environment Considerations Related to Individual Educational Plans. Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is a component of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and is defined as the placement in which an individual student can be taught and make progress in the general education curriculum to the maximum extent possible with students without disabilities. The purpose of the TAP is to update previous technical assistance provided to school districts regarding the provision of services for students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment, address other considerations that must be addressed when determining the most appropriate placement for a student with a disability, and address issues related to service delivery and scheduling methods for students with disabilities. View the complete TAP at

Free and Appropriate Public Education Update Letter

small image of stacked documents November 16, 2015 the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released a Dear Colleague Letter on Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that clarifies that individualized education programs (IEP) for children with disabilities must be aligned with state academic content standards for the grade in which a child is enrolled. Under the IDEA, in order to make FAPE available to each eligible child with a disability, the child's IEP must be designed to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum. 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(A). This letter addresses the interpretation of "general education curriculum," discusses the implementation of this interpretation, and then provides a classroom example. View the complete letter at http://1.usa.gov/1nPnCaI.
partnersOur Partners
The Technology & Learning Connections Team is a part of the Problem Solving/ Response to Intervention Project. Services include the alignment of accessible instructional materials, assistive technology, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in a multi-tiered system of supports.  

FDLRS logo
The Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System (FDLRS): providing services in the areas of Child Find, HRD, Parent Services, and Technology; including local TA&D, professional development, and capacity building in the areas of accessible instructional materials, assistive & Instructional technologies, UDL, and virtual learning.

LATS logo

Local Assistive Technology Specialists (LATS): providing local support for assistive technology assessments, evaluations, and related assistive technology services.

Together we are working to help all schools implement a universal, differentiated core curriculum based on the Florida Standards.   

This newsletter was funded by the Florida Department of Education Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services through federal assistance under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), Part B funds. The information included does not reflect any specific endorsement by any parties involved. Please email Gary Pearcy for further information.