Thursday, December 17, 2009

Week 15 - my favorites

I found everything we read and viewed about assitive technology very enlightening. It made me so much more aware of issues and needs of people with disabilities and that there are many ways to overcome what might seem like impossible situations. In line with this, I feel like I learned much from Jurkowski's chapter (12) on tech plans. (I found the entire text to be very easy to read, understand, and apply which is a huge plus!) Pretty much being clueless regarding tech plans, it was a blessing how clearly the chapter was organized and how easy it was to follow. Sometimes in the past I lhave tended to look at documents like tech plans or policy manuals as more trouble than they're worth, but they really make you stop and take stock of the current status of things and put clear goals in place before trying to gallop down a path that could get rocky if not pre-planned well.

The Shelly text was also very good in general because of the great visuals and practical materials. I think I enjoyed chapter 8 the most. Maybe it's just my personality, but I really like reading and learning about ethical issues. It was a good chapter that covered so many things from security and safety to objectionable materials and copyright. The questionnaire on pg. 496 had some really thought-provoking statements. In addition, it was very applicable because I had an issue with a patron accessing pornographic materials in the library where I work - talk about awkward!! I still am not sure with the filters, etc. we have how he was able to access the sites, but he managed. (Just in case anyone is wondering what I did, to make a long story short, I contacted the local authorities because the community has had other issues with this patron and I've been told not to confront him on my own. I work by myself the majority of the time and my board is always concerned for my safety.)

Jurkowski, O. L. (2006). Technology and the school library. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press

Shelly, G.B., et. al. (2008). Integrating technology and digital media in the classroom, (5th
ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Module 5

Having benefited so greatly from this tutorial, how could I resist the plea to link CSLA2's Library Thing? These books are great!

I've personally read some of them and am pleased to say that our library has most of them. Literature goes a long way in helping others understand issues and circumstances surrounding disabilities.

The lesson plans in Module 5 were great too. I liked how activity-oriented they are and that the focus is on making kids aware of what it's like to function with disabilities.

I guess as far as what I learned: my eyes have really been opened as to the variety and quality of technology that is available to help people with disabilities. I think if I eventually find myself employed in a media center, I will be more equipped to promote assistive technology and advocate for students with disabilities. Where I currently work, there is not much need for AT. I suppose the closest we come to AT is our audio books and large print books. For many patrons, using these materials is a choice of preference rather than need, though.

I could easily recommend this course to others. If I hear of someone or a group wanting to learn more about AT, this is the first place I'd send them!

As the focus of this week has been on evaluation, I found it interesting to look at the various places the Shelly text mentions as sources of information for evaluation. Listed is everything from professional organizations to publications to conferences. Two of my personal favorite sources are: colleague recommendations and the web. If something has been tried by several colleagues, you can usually get some honest and fairly accurate feedback about products and services. I have recently used word of mouth (along with some of my own investigation) to see what vendors provide the best periodical services for small libraries. I found the one my colleagues recommended the most to be the company I chose and saved money as well! I also often look at reviews for products and materials - everything from software to books for the library. With the widespread ability for tagging and user-centered websites, reviews are easy to find and generally very helpful.

I really like the rubrics and checklists provided throughout the chapter. I could have used the website evaluation a couple classes ago...! I found the student rubrics helpful too. We frequently mention when it comes to learning, the students are important stakeholders and if we give them the opportunity to evaluate projects, learning processes, materials, etc. it will help us provide more effective learning opportunities and apply different strategies to meet various learning needs.

I'm glad the chapter addressed not just the multi-computer classroom, but also included the one-computer classroom. As technologically advanced as many areas and districts are these days, there are still plenty of limited technology schools. The range of ideas on how to use one computer with an entire class was inspiring.

Shelly, G. B., Cashman, T. J, Gunter, R. E., & Gunter, G. A. (2008). Integrating technology and

digital media in the classroom
, (5th ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Module 4 - Part 2

I can't say I got 100% on the quiz, but I did quite well, especially after reading the introductory information in Module 4. The social interaction tips were helpful - it boils down to all anyone wants is to be treated with respect. There are certain things all of us can and can't do; we just need to capitalize on those that we can. For those with disabilities, that's where AT comes in. I think it's appropriate that at the end of Chapter 8 in the Shelly text, Assistive Technologies are addressed under Emerging Technologies. As we've all proven with our AT plans, there are tons of options (hardware and software) that will help those with disabilities, but there are plenty of avenues where technology can continue to improve. In addition, there is plenty of room for all of us as educators and information professionals to learn more about these technologies and how to effectively apply them to help as many students and patrons as we can.

Here are several sites that I've enjoyed looking over regarding AT:
This site provides all types of information on disabilities and AT with its main focus on connecting people with the technology that will help them the most. Includes information, stories, links, education, resources, etc.
This site is the home of a non-profit organization whose mission is to help provide kids with needed AT.
As questionable as wikipedia can be, I found this site to be quite informative with the definition of AT as well as a lot of the available technology.
Although not as attractive as some of the other sites, this one has tons of useful information for families. It discusses issues, funding, advocating, evaluation of products, solutions, making IEPs and much more.
Blog on the topic of assistive technology, eLearning, mind mapping, project management, visual learning, collaborative tools, and educational technology (as per the heading of the blog.) This blog is a very professional one with lots of interesting archived materials including information on government provisions and plans for AT.

Week 13 - Module 4

First I think I'd like to take a minute and discuss the "netiquette" web pages. Most of the suggestions are so common sense, but as Dr. Farmer mentioned in the week's assignment section and as is mentioned frequently through these pages, many web participants find it too easy to use the computer screen as a mask and blurt out anything, which can be harmful to themselves as well as others. I find it very alarming how people - especially teens - forget that once something is posted on the Web there's no stopping who might see it. The one video of "Sarah" which was linked on the netiquette page may have been a bit cliched, but also very true how far images and text can travel. It's a good lesson in "think before you post!" because that few minutes of fame just may last longer than a person intends and be more embarrassing than ever imagined. We've likely all had a word or two with the teens we interact with about issues like this!

I liked the separate page for kids' etiquette - direct and simple, but again, very necessary. One point encourages kids to share their knowledge. If we can get kids to share their tech knowledge - which they love to do - we could really enhance the learning capacity in the classroom and the library.

As I looked at some of the websites from infospec46, I wondered why they looked familiar, then it dawned on me that I used a couple of the Cyberbullying sites in a pathfinder I did for class last spring on bulllying, which included cyberbullying. (I love how so much of what we learn from class to class overlaps, meshes and enhances the others.) I also enjoyed the tip on taking screen shots to capture evidence of wrong-doing. Sometimes you try to print a page as is and it just doesn't print everything on the page that you need or want. Screen shots are a great option.