In most autism programs, data collection and graphing are daily tasks for teachers and therapists. These tasks are a vital component of a program based on applied behavior analysis and are critical for teachers, supervisors and parents to monitor student progress. While educators typically recognize the importance of data collection, it is frequently viewed as tedious and time consuming, and as a result sometimes avoided.
Standard practice is to collect data using paper and pencil, then graph by coloring in dots and connecting lines. This scenario is played out in autism classrooms and therapy sessions, but there is another way. The solution for special education is one that incorporates technology directly into service delivery, which can allow for a more efficient means to complete data collection tasks. To accomplish this, Eden Autism Services, where I am the the director of clinical services, developed a learning management system that has digitized the paper and pencil method.
Of course, there can be some initial hesitation, concerns and trepidation when incorporating new technology. This is understandable, considering how long most educators have been operating with paper and pencil. Change is always difficult, but, when new technology is involved, people tend to be even more apprehensive. I am happy to say that this apprehension often is very short lived as staff begin to experience the benefits of having more time and, more importantly, seeing that time reflected in the success of their students.