This website was developed with a U.S. Department of Education grant on Steppingstones in Technology Innovation for Students with Disabilities. The grant was entitled “Field Testing the Learning Toolbox: An Instructional Resource Website for Students with Mild Disabilities, Parents, and Teachers.” This website was being field-tested using the criteria of understandability (ease of navigability), accessibility for students with reading and attention disabilities, and usability (i.e., whether the strategies on the website are put into practice by students, teachers, and parents). This website should contribute to the more effective use of technology for improving the ability of students with disabilities to meet the rigorous academic demands of the general education curriculum, pass high stakes tests, and successfully meet the academic requirements of postsecondary education.

The Learning Toolbox was developed as part of the Model Demonstration Project for Improving Postsecondary Education for Students with Mild Disabilities, a U.S. Office of Education grant awarded to James Madison University. The purpose of the Project was to develop, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of course-specific strategy instruction with college students who have learning disabilities and ADHD. This one-on-one instructional approach significantly helped students improve their academic performance. One of the goals of this project was to share what we have learned. This website provides a way of sharing this approach so that others might use it.

We were especially eager to share the approach with high school students with mild disabilities, their teachers, and their parents. We believe that high school students who use this approach will be better prepared to meet rigorous academic challenges of high school and college. Consequently, the strategies and examples of how to apply these strategies to specific courses have been tailored to the needs of high school students.

JMU Faculty:

Esther Minskoff
David Allsopp
Jerry Minskoff
Margaret Kyger

Other JMU faculty and staff who assisted with the development of the Learning Toolbox were Lou Hedrick, Jeff Kushner, Richard Clemens, and Richard Ingram. Lou Hedrick, Director of the Office of Disability Services, provided input for making the website accessible to student with disabilities. Jeff Kushner provided expertise in multimedia design, while Richard Clemens assisted with instructional technology considerations.

Support JMU Faculty and Staff:

Lou Hedrick
Jeff Kushner
Richard Clemens
Richard Ingram

The website has been developed to be responsive to the specific needs of students with learning disabilities and ADHD. Features of the website that respond to these needs include: reduced amounts of text for reading; use of graphics to enhance the meaning of the reading material; a consistent structure of accessing the various Learning Toolbox sites; and elimination of distracting stimuli such as non-purposeful animations and sound effects. Clinton Sower, a JMU graduate student, was instrumental in integrating these features into the design for the Learning Toolbox.

Website Designers:

Clinton Sower
Chris Clarke
Laura Creecy

The following students were instrumental in continuing the work of Clinton Sower in constructing various aspects of the website:

Website Construction:

Noelle Loue

Ehren McElfresh

Katy Elmore

Kelley Wolfe

Jason Paulin

Kristen Bertini

Brian Hall

John Lubker

The following students assisted in the construction of new strategies and were the strategy instructors for the college students in the Project:

Strategy Instructors:

Craig Stoll

Lynne Pruszkowski

Micki Edwards

Kristi Snow

Stephanie Foss

Jason Roberts

Caryn Jones

Tiffany McConnell

Holly Williams

Karla Fitchett

Jennifer Sivigny

Brett Miller

Sam Herr

Sharon Estock

Melody Zimmerman

Jackie Miller

To all of the above students, the faculty express heartfelt thanks for their professionalism and their commitment to the Project and the website.

Field Testing:

We wish to thank the JMU students who participated in the beta testing which allowed us to develop the evaluation forms used with the students. Special thanks to Rockingham County, Virginia Schools and Becky Hill Shifflett for the help in securing high school students to participate in the beta testing phase of the project.

Video Production:

The Video demonstrating the use of the Learning Toolbox in the section on Teacher Directions was designed and produced by David Allsopp. Stacey Jones and Jennifer Belcher ably performed the teacher and student roles in the video.