Web 2.0 and New Media for Organizing and Planning


Many students with learning disabilities have difficulty with executive function – organizing, planning, keeping track of time, remembering information and keeping track of multiple tasks can all present difficulties for students with LD. Typically, individuals who struggle with executive function use a variety of strategies to help with organization and planning; students may use agenda books and calendars, to-do lists, organizers or detailed checklists for tasks and assignments.

A key factor in the success of any of these strategies is ensuring that students use them regularly and create positive habits. One way to encourage students to utilize organizational and planning strategies is to link them to technologies they use in their daily lives to socialize, play, and learn, such as Instant Messaging (IM), text messaging, email, social networking, and digital cameras. Web 2.0 applications for task management, organization and bookmarking make use of these tools to allow users to tailor their reminders and information in a way that makes sense to them. While these applications may not be effective for every student who struggles with executive function, they are useful to have in your toolkit:

Online To-Do Lists/Task Management

  • There are a number of free online to-do list and task management applications available, most with similar features.
  • Some popular features include:
  • Using Twitter, Google Calendar, email, text message, iPad /tablet or a smart phones to add a task to your to-do list
  • Receive task reminders via IM, text message, or email
  • Locate tasks on a map and get directions
  • Organize tasks in list form or visually (as a tag cloud)
  • Share lists with friends and collaborate on projects
  • Other Task Management Tools include Remember the Milk and EverNote

Online Calendars

Students (and teachers) can opt to use the calendar application built into their computer’s operating system, or utilize a free online calendar.  Here are two examples of online calendars and how they can be used:

Google Calendar:

  • Share calendars with friends and family – this can be a good way for parents to keep track of assignments and projects and monitor their child’s progress
  • New Offline feature allows users to access their calendar even without an internet connection
  • Color code different calendar entries
  • Receive email or text message reminders as dates approach
  • Sync calendar with mobile devices (BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile)

Assign-a-Day, a free online teacher-managed calendar:

  • Create a calendar for multiple classes
  •  Add assignments for students to view
  •  Students can view missed assignments or get an overview of the class and upcoming projects
  • Share calendars and collaborate with other teachers – this could be helpful to keep special educators, 1-to-1 aides and other staff informed of a particular student’s assignments
  • Create long-term assignments and projects that span multiple dates

Productivity and Notetaking Tools 

Students who struggle with executive functioning may have a hard time approaching longer-term projects, research papers, or other in-depth assignments. Or they may have difficulty keeping track of numerous pieces of information. In these instances, notetaking or productivity applications such as these may be helpful:

Diigo:  One of a variety of social bookmarking and tagging websites. In addition to bookmarking websites and resources of interest, users can:

  • Highlight website text
  • Add sticky notes to websites
  • Access tags, sticky notes and annotations from any computer when they log in to their Diigo accoun
  • Tag resources with labels to make them easier to find again (i.e. students could tag websites with “earth day”, “environmental issues” “recycling”, etc.)
  • Organize bookmarks in list form or visually (using a tag cloud)

  • Create topic-based lists of websites and resources

  • Share resources with friends

EverNote: This application combines traditional notetaking, to-do lists, and task management with virtual sticky notes, photos, audio recordings and mobile applications to allow users to remember and record important information and access it anytime.

  • Create notes by clipping text and images from a web page
  • Create sticky notes using your computer or mobile phone
• Use a cell phone to read to-do lists
  • Take snapshots using cell phone or web cam; any text (business cards, labels, notes on the whiteboard in class, etc.) will be recognized by the software
  • Search your notes to find exact text, whether text is part of a handwritten note, snapshot or website
  • Email notes to yourself
  • Scan documents into your notes (receipts, lists, etc.)

  • Record audio notes 

If you’d like to dig deeper with Web 2.0 tools and their possible educational applications, check out these additional resources:

Webinar: New Media Tools: April 15, 2009 & April 21, 2009.  New media tools have great social and educational implications, and students with diverse learning needs are using them with increasing frequency. This event, which is part of the CITEd Moving Forward with Technology Series, will explore uses of several of the most popular new media options.  

Article: Blogs, Wikis and Text Messaging: What are the Implications for Students with Disabilities?

Classroom 2.0: A social network for those interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies in education

And for more information about Executive Function, check out LD Online’s Executive Function Fact Sheet.

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