Technology allows educators to become facilitators in the classroom.

Many schools are banning mobile devices because educators and administrators fear that they will negatively impact learning.  I feel that this type of censorship is the wrong choice.  We should be embracing technology since it can improve collaboration and engagement with content as well as provide support to students with cognitive and physical disabilities.  It has been shown that self-directed learning improves leading to authentic learning opportunities since learners are able to express themselves and their ideas more effectively (Alberta Education, Bring your own device, 2012, p. 3).

Educators are supposed to help students learn digital responsibility and citizenship. How can this occur if learners don’t have access to technology?  Schools and educators have modified how they use technology.  According to Joan Tod, instructor at Bertha Kennedy Community School, “…teachers use technology when it makes sense to use it” (Alberta Education, Emerge one-to-one Learning, Authentic Learning, July, 2012).  This practice helps to keep boundaries and it ensures that information is up to date, which further supports authentic learning.  Changes need to take place to allow for such improvements.

These changes include being flexible and open-minded towards technology so that students can reap the benefits of using it.  Teachers also need to know when to use it and learn how to modify their teaching so that technology doesn’t overtake good teaching practices and pedagogy.  When teachers use technology they become more like facilitators rather than lecturers.  This shift in roles helps to put students more in control of their learning (Crichton, Pegler & White, 2012).

When educators act more as facilitators rather than as lecturers, they become “silent” teachers.  I have been using this “silent” teacher method for almost ten years, and I have found the experience rewarding.  Currently, my BIM (Building Information Modeling) students are completing a technical English Manual as well as working on a presentation for their projects.  Our government representative observed my class this week and found students’ work to be exceptional.  Furthermore, our employment developer has had many requests from engineering firms in Calgary to interview our students for employment.  I believe that much of this success is because the teaching staff at Bredin is dedicated to allowing students to showcase their work in diverse ways.  We encourage the use of technology and allow students to use their own devices.  We also use technology appropriately so that it supports our curriculum rather than being the focal point of lessons.  Ultimately, teachers act as facilitators and provide opportunities for students to determine their project outcomes-a necessary process in adult education.

References:

Alberta Education (2012). Bring your own device: a guide for schools. Retrieved from http://education.alberta.ca/admin/technology/research.aspx

Alberta Education (2012). Emerge one-to-one laptop learning: Authentic Learning. Retrieved from http://education.alberta.ca/admin/technology/emerge-one-to-one/videos.aspx

Crichton, S., Pegler, K., & White, D. (2012). Personal devices in public settings: lessons learned from an ipod touch / ipad project. Electronic Journal Of E-Learning, 10(1), 23-31.http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?ur

 

Advertisements

Week 8: A New Appreciation for Assistive Technologies

Assistive technology (AT) can be a lifeline for disabled students, for it is redefining what people with cognitive and physical disabilities can accomplish (Kelker & Holt, 1997).  Assistive technology can be used to aid students in many ways by helping them overcome barriers, but these technologies can be expensive and difficult to obtain.  Many parents are confused by the variety of software available, and they need help finding the right tool so that (AT) becomes an essential but fluid part of their child’s education rather than an additional part (Kelker & Holt, 1997).

I have a new awareness and appreciation for assistive technology.  I have developed extreme Carpal Tunnel Syndrome this month due to pregnancy; this has made typing almost impossible.  I have relied on assistive technology to complete my assignments for this program.  I have ordered Dragon Dictation, which has definitely helped, but I am also finding that I need time to adapt to the technology.  As Ellis indicates in the Assistive technology: Enabling Dreams video, students need to learn AT tools at younger ages so later they can focus on content rather than on technology (Ellis, 2009).  It is important for parents and educators to realize that navigating new software takes patience and time.  The process can be extremely frustrating.

I have also used wrist splints and compression gloves for arthritis to help me function.  These aids are also categorized as assistive technologies, so AT doesn’t consists of only computer software (Coleman, 2011).  It can be assistive listening, visual aids, enhanced mobility aids, computer-based instruction, social interaction and recreation and self care.  “Assistive technology means any device which helps an individual with an impairment to perform tasks of daily living” (Kelker & Holt, p. 6, 1997).

Assistive technology is changing the way teachers instruct students with disabilities because AT is “…not just a civil right guaranteed by law; it is also a means of achieving human rights to grow up happy, independent and self-sufficient as possible” (Kelker & Holt, p. 43, 1997).   AT definitely offers something different for each of us.

References:

Coleman, M.  (2011).  Successful Implementation of Assistive Technology to Promote Access to Curriculum and Instruction for Students with Physical Disabilities.  Physical Disabilities:  Education And Related Services, 30(2), 2-22.  Retrieved from:  http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ955444&site=ehost-live

Ellis, K. (2009). Assistive Technology Enabling Dreams. Edutopia Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ5CkpgVQJ4

Kelker, K. & Holt, R. (1997).  Family Guide to Assistive Technology. Retrieved from: http://www.pluk.org/Pubs/PLUK_ATguide_269K.pdf