This telepractice blog post is in honor of Better Speech and Hearing Month (BSHM). Improved communication and building connections are the clinicians’ therapy focus, and what better way to provide life-altering treatment than to use a learning platform that offers students the ability to interact with a wide variety of materials. Especially those students using Chromebooks. What other platform characteristics should be available to make a clinician’s job easier?
Let’s take a look…
As a seasoned telepractitioner, I have used many different platforms to provide therapy services. When I began in 2012, I used WebEx. From there, I used GoToMeeting, then some proprietary platforms, Blackboard, Google Meet, and most recently, ZOOM. I have also explored other platforms that were developed with telepractice in mind, so when I heard about the Verge Learning Platform, I was intrigued. I recently signed up for a demonstration and a free trial of the platform to explore what it had to offer.
My greatest challenge during the 2020-2021 school year has been providing telepractice services to students using Chromebooks. Many school districts across the U.S. have made Chromebooks available to their students. Unfortunately, Chromebooks do not allow the clinician to share control of web-based, interactive materials with students using this type of laptop. While providing services using ZOOM, only the clinician can interact with websites, games, worksheets, and annotate while the students simply observe, decreasing the level of student engagement and the feeling of connection. Enter, “Verge Learning Platform.” This platform allows students using Chromebooks to interact with online materials! Not just that, it allows students using tablets and iPads to interact as well.
As a telepractitioner, I look for a platform that offers a calendar, scheduling options, and SOAP notes/Session Logs that are easily accessible as well as user-friendly. What would be even better is if it would send email reminders to clients/caregivers as well as clinicians about upcoming sessions. I was pleased to learn that Verge’s platform offers this capability! Messages for communication between therapist and family can be conveyed anytime using the Message Center that is part of the platform. This allows the messages to remain private and HIPPA compliant because the platform requires secure access.
Student and caregiver contact information can be uploaded onto the platform which is similar to others. The Verge Learning platform, however, allows you to list educational team members, family members, as well as assign students into groups based upon your telepractice schedule. Meetings for individual students or groups can be scheduled easily and they can be set as recurring meetings as well. You have the ability to assign homework to each individual student or the group as-a-whole. There is also an IEP Goal Generator with drop-down menu choices making goal writing easy!
The Verge Learning Platform also offers a content library that can house the clinician’s personal materials, those of the clinician’s organization, as well as the Verge Learning Library (e.g., pdfs, interactive materials). A clinician’s personal library can consist of uploaded pdfs, video links, web applications, and online games. The variety of materials continues to be updated constantly and offers as much flexibility as a clinician prefers. The “collaborate” option brings materials into the Verge cloud, allowing both the clinician and students to interact with the material simultaneously. An example of this would be sharing a Boom Card activity. The clinician grants the student the ability to interact with websites/materials and can rescind it as necessary. The same holds true for the multi-user whiteboard. The sound associated with videos and activities is audible directly through the platform! No more having to remember to check boxes to enable the sound.
Another capability that I look for as a telepractitioner is the ability to swap out the material on the screen with my video. By clicking on the “full screen” icon in the corner of the video image, it will take the place of the material you were sharing on the screen and allow the student to see your image in a full-screen format. This is particularly useful when working on articulation targets or oral-motor exercises. Did I mention that the platform also offers the capability of recording your session? This works well if caregivers want to watch the session to assist with carryover of the skills learned.
Finally, as part of the Verge Learning system, affordable continuing education courses through XceptionalED.com are also available to clinicians via the Verge Dashboard. The XceptionalED library has a robust offering for professionals, providing Continuing Education credits. It is exciting to have all of the tools and information in one place.
I recommend scheduling an info session and demo, as well as signing up for a free 30-day trial for the Verge Learning Platform to see for yourself by clicking here: https://myportal.learnwithverge.com/starter_plan_signup. Try out the tools and see how this platform can help you increase student engagement, build those connections, and make your job easier. Also, please check out the Verge Learning YouTube page for quick tutorials on some of the highlights of the platform.