Students learn digitally

November 7, 2013 12:00 AM

Kayden integrates tech into independent study

Student coordinator Renita Pitts hooked her arm around the shoulders of student Ty’johnson Sykes in an embrace after he presented his graded math assignment. Earning 100 percent with a steadily rising grade in the class, Pitts deemed Sykes a perfect example of their award-winning learning assistance program, “Smartxt.”

Renita Pitts (left) and Stacey Kayden (right) show off their latest star pupil, Ty'johnson Syke, who scored a perfect 100% on his math exam after enrolling in the Smartxt program.

Renita Pitts (left) and Stacey Kayden (right) show off their latest star pupil, Ty’johnson Syke, who scored a perfect 100% on his math exam after enrolling in the Smartxt program.

Acknowledging the success of the program, Laney College Learning Specialist Stacey Kayden received an award for professional excellence at the annual conference for the California Association of Post-secondary Education and Disability (CAPED) in Los Angeles, Oct. 14.

Kayden, Pitts, and student mentor Kim Cael introduced “Smartpens” as learning accessories in several general education classes, capitalizing on technology and Facebook as educational tools.

A Smartpen is outfitted with a camera and microphone, allowing the user to not only record neighboring noises, like the voice of a lecturing instructor, but also visually record the moment you begin writing notes.

Students struggling with a concept can instantly replay the entire class, from lecture to notes, without risking the embarrassment of asking or repeating questions that others might feel are obvious.

“Disabled students have a tendency to become shy, but with this they can stand and shine,” said Cael.

Smartxt started as a tool for students grappling with learning disabilities, but as it turns out, the program works wonders for just about anyone.

“I wanted to get a product out that could not only help students get through classes, but also provide them with a support network,” said Kayden, who prides herself on the surging grades of her students.

Pitts, who struggled with her own learning disabilities through her studies at Laney, coordinates the Smartxt program and is currently completing her masters degree at UC Berkeley. Kayden’s pilot program enables her to do what she loves most – helping students like Pitts thrive. Cultivating self-esteem, she said, is tantamount to anyone’s academic achievement.

“We have to work a little harder, but we succeed,” said Pitts, who used Smartxt to complete her studies at Laney and transfer to San Francisco State University.

Kayden, Pitts and Cael are pushing the message for universal learning, encouraging all students, regardless of cognitive or physical ability, to come to them for support.

“That’s the essence of a community college,” said Kayden. “We’re a community.”

To inquire about  Smartxt for your department, contact Kayden at slkayden@peralta.edu.

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