Learning Differences and AIM receive grant

Bella Lee, Staff writer

Learning Differences and AIM (Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst) have both been crucial in giving students the extra help they need to succeed in college. Learning Differences assists students in the form of any needed class and test accommodations, while AIM has aided students on the autism spectrum in getting adjusted to college life in the form of social events and extra advising.

On Jan. 20, Learning Differences and AIM were awarded a $128,100 grant from the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust, an organization that is dedicated to promoting self-sufficiency and independence for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities.

Learning Differences is planning on using their share of the grant to purchase Glean Note Taking software, which will help improve the notetaking experience.

“This software will allow students to produce high quality, secure audio recordings of lectures both online and in-person,” said Jeanette Long, director of learning support services.

“They can then relisten to the recordings after class to help them retain information learned and to take more detailed notes.”

This technology has been used at many big-name schools, such as Marquette University, the University of Central Florida, and Missouri State University. Glean will assist with note taking to offer a more efficient way to get notes, both for the notetaker and the student that is receiving the notes.

“Under our current peer note taker system, Learning Differences hires other students to take notes, then share them with the student who needs them,” said Long.

“This leaves the student who needs the notes as almost a bystander in their own education—they aren’t taking the notes, they aren’t interpreting information in their own ways, and, in some cases, they are waiting a long time to get their notes. With Glean, students will be able to record class, then go home and listen to the lecture again, take notes, include diagrams, web resources, and more,” said Long.

“Essentially, Glean will allow students with learning differences to engage with class material like they never have before.”

AIM plans on using their share of the grant towards Transportation Solutions to work with 10 AIM students to earn their drivers’ licenses. As they continue to learn how to be more independent, Transportation Solutions can further assist these AIM students in being independent outside of campus by teaching them the skills necessary to drive and earn their license.

Additionally, these funds will help AIM travel offcampus for experiential and vocational opportunities.

Having firsthand experiences outside of a known environment allows AIM students to more confidently approach novel situations knowing that they have encountered them before and successfully dealt with them.

This grant will give AIM the ability to give once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to current and future AIM students, such as Conquer the Canyon and the summer CREATE program.

This is a massive amount of funding that Learning Differences and AIM are extremely grateful to receive. This will greatly benefit future students that will need to utilize these services in order to grow in their college life.