Eliminating Educational Information Silos

In education, silos often pop-up between members of IEP teams containing valuable knowledge and expertise in specific content areas. Silos sometimes occur when educators do not wish to share information with others, but can also happen out of fear of stepping on colleagues’ toes or not knowing how to access someone with knowledge in a specific content area. By keeping these areas of knowledge separate, or siloed, teams have difficulty collaborating and working toward the goal of addressing the student as a whole.

For example, physical therapists (PTs) address concerns such as positioning and gross motor skills while speech language pathologists (SLPs) can address concerns related to articulation, expression, and comprehension. For some students, positioning and gross motor skills impact how a student accesses a communication device. These two educators, while in separate fields, need to collaborate to address the overall needs of the student. 

Watch the video to find out how schools can move from educational silos to a shared system that can improve productivity and addressing student needs in a more effective and efficient manner.

Building an AT Team

With the growing number of unique needs of students requiring AT, schools cannot (and should not) rely on one person to meet the needs of every student. An Assistive Technology team can be a more efficient and effective way of addressing student needs while eliminating information silos. 

In the article “Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams,”* you’ll discover how having a diverse group help your team be successful. The article also addresses potential barriers and how the diverse team members can contribute to the collective success of the group. While the article is written in the mindset of business roles, you are able to make your own connections between professional titles described and which colleagues or educational roles best fit the descriptions listed. 

In Chapter 7 of “The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools,” Chris Bugaj and Sally Norton-Darr discuss the importance of defining roles and responsibilities when creating an AT team as well as simple steps to get started. Permission to share this chapter on our website granted by ISTE Publishing.

* Please note that as part of the Harvard Business Review’s policy, you can access up to 3 free articles each month (including this one) before needing to subscribe or register for more. 

Speaking of a Team...Who Could Join the Discussion?

As mentioned earlier in this stop, educational silos may be inadvertently created because we’re not sure which colleague to ask for help when certain issues arise. Thankfully, within your ISD, there are educators that have a wealth of knowledge and skills who can help you get AT into the hands of your students.

The AT Skills Inventory is a compilation of information from 8 national professional organizations that can help your team identify who can contribute knowledge and skills related to assistive technology. 

Self-assessments to examine proficiency and potential areas of need for professional development are included for 7 types of educators:

  • Physical Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Speech Language Pathologists
  • School Psychologists
  • Teacher Consultants for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing
  • Teacher Consultants for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Special Education Teachers

Watch the video to learn more about how these educators can contribute to the conversation surrounding AT and how to use the AT Skills Inventory within your team.

In addition, the "AT Skills Inventory - Self Assessment" documents are interactive pdfs that add the scores of each professional's self rating on a scale from 1 (low skills) to 5 (high skills). The Self-Assessment offers a means for professionals to rate their level of proficiency with regard to the knowledge, skills, and abilities associated with their role. Results can be used to identify who would be most beneficial to include in the assistive technology consideration process. Administrators may also use the results to identify areas of need for professional development.

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