Harry Potter

Harry Potter
Even the world's best super spy needs a little help from assistive tech!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Presuming, Converging and Disrupting: Oh My!

After the heavy technology applications of the last two week, I must say it was actually refreshing to have a piece of paper in my hands last night at the beginning of the class! The whole idea of presuming competence had me a little thrown. As a literacy teacher, I was taught that we should presume that the students are a blank slate so we can teach them the strategies they need to succeed. I suppose it isn't too much of a stretch to think they may already have coping strategies that are in place and have been working just fine for them! It reminds me of myself in Math classes struggling to follow the way the Math teacher was doing the equations but I could do it myself in the way that I had made up. I still showed all my work (God how I hate that phrase! It sends shivers down my spine) but the teacher kept giving me a 0 because it wasn't that way SHE wanted me to get the answers! Needless to say, Parent Teacher Interviews were a lot of fun that term! The moral of course is never to assume as it makes an "ass" of "u" and "me" when it comes to thinking about what our students know and don't know.

Another topic last night that I found really interesting was the idea of convergent and disruptive technologies. As I have said before, the whole idea that one uber company seems to be in control of all this wonderful tech and that they are really cornering the market on education is something that I am having a real ethical problem with. It wouldn't matter to me if there were lots of companies and you could interchange the apps but some apps don't work on Samsung and vice versa. Soon we are going to be calling our schools after tech companies rather than places. Steve Jobs Middle School anyone? It is a good thing that students with needs can have all the tech in one place. It makes a great cost efficient argument for the DOE as well! But sometimes it feels like we are running before we can walk. The classroom teachers are not trained in this tech, they aren't all that comfortable with it in the room yet and I really can't blame them. It's a part of the job that they haven't been properly trained for and they are scared. And as Yoda said, "Fear leads to anger, Anger leads to hate, Hate leads to Suffering". That's the way a lot of teachers are feeling about all the new disruptive and convergent technology. 

Proloquo 2 go was great fun and I can see how beneficial it could be to those students who are trapped in a body that doesn't do what they want it to. Carly Fleischmann is an inspiration and makes me wonder how well I could cope if I was in her position. It must be so incredibly hard not to be able to communicate with the world. It's bad enough when you are in a country where you don't know the language, imagine living in a world where you don't know the langauge.

Last year when I was teaching Sociology, we did some work on communication and how language is developed and what it means to be human. My students came to the conclusion that you can be human and not communicate with language but that without it, you are missing the major part of being human. With all the new augmentative communication technology, maybe no one will have to miss any part of being human.

Ernie and Bert show off the importance of communication

How important is non verbal communication? Watch this and decide for yourself!