Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lon Thornburg's No Limits 2 Learning Blog

Lon Thornburg is an assistive technology specialist in Oregon who is the author of the No Limits 2 Learning Blog, "celebrating human potential through assistive technology". In addition to assistive technology, Lon's blog focuses on topics related to children, education, disabilities,

Lon recently attended a workshop on alternative text access and podcasting, presented by Steven Timmer, of Premier Literacy, and came away with some good insights, which you can read on his blog post. Steven Timer, who is legally blind, discussed the difference between the concept of assistive technology for learning and assistive technology for living. I liked the quotes from Steven Timmer:

"AT must take what you find difficult to do and make it easier for you- if it doesn't, it isn't AT."

"if they can't use it within 15 minutes of training," Steven shared, "and 3 steps or less, they probably won't use it."

On another post, Lon shared another quote from Steven Timer:

"If kids don't find a practical reason to use AT for something they want to do, they won't incorporate it into their world and use it,"

Lon asks us to think more deeply about the purpose of assistive technology:

"Instead of spending so much time with a software that prepares them to learn information to perform better on state assessments and try to get their scores up, maybe we need to focus more on helping them to independently take text and summarize it, and convert it to an Mp3 file they can listen to it. Oh, and by the way…let them select an article, story or other print media that is relevant to them."

"I have some developmentally delayed and cognitive disabled students that are older - in high school that can use some of both kinds of AT to a certain point, but by high school, we should have given them the ability to use living technology for themselves so they can use it independently to access life. And you know what? If I teach them how to access life with living tools, I bet it will impact their ability to prep for those tests…hmmm just a thought."

Lon's blog is well worth signing up for a feed!

Here is another good tidbit of information he posted from his blog - his notes from an interview with Kristin Whitfield, CCC-SLP, from Dynavox, citing research from Penn State University, Project R, that suggests that early learners (2-5) can benefit from higher-end communication tools, if properly designed for their age and developmental needs. The researchers point out that most current AAC devices were developed by non-disabled adults, and do not model the way young children cognitively and linguistically interact with the world.

By the way, Penn State University offers a webcast, along with transcripts, slides, and handouts from the AAC RERC Webcast Series, Reading and AAC, presented by Janice Light, Ph.D., a professor in the Communication Sciences and Disorders.

  • "This session will discuss effective evidence-based practices to maximize the literacy skills of individuals who require AAC. Case studies (including video) will be used to illustrate effective interventions to help student who require AAC: (a) acquire phonological awareness skills, (b) learn to read words, (c) participate in shared reading activities with personalized books, and (d) write their own stories. With appropriate instruction, individuals who require AAC can achieve improved literacy skills and will be able to maximize their educational and vocational outcomes."

Thanks, Lon Thornburg, for sharing so much on your blog!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Digital Students@Analog Schools, 2004. Do the sentiments still ring true?

Digital Students@Analog Schools, 2004. Do the sentiments still ring true?

The above link is to a post about on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog about technology integration, need for multimedia learning activities, and resources for supporting technology and Universal Design for Learning.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Microsoft Surface's Hotel Concierge Application: Let's see an affordable Surface, deployed in classrooms and libraries!

Take a look at the video of Microsoft's multi-touch "Surface", functioning as an interactive, electronic hotel concierge. Imagine how multi-touch, multi-user technology could be used in education!

Cross posted from the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Adobe's Digital Kids Club: Great source for learning and communication activities that incorporate digital video and photography.

The Adobe Digital Kids Club website provides wide range of ideas for integrate digital video and photography into engaging lesson plans. Teachers are encouraged to share lesson plans on the site. A template is provided.

Info from the website:

"The Adobe Digital Kids Club makes it easy for educators to introduce digital photography and video into the classroom. Students take photos with their digital cameras and then use Adobe® Photoshop® Elements software for Windows® and Mac to edit, enhance, organize, and share their images. Using Adobe Premiere® Elements, they produce amazing videos for classroom projects and presentations."

"Submit your own lesson or activity
Teachers: Share your digital media lessons and activities. E-mail your lesson or activity to the Adobe Digital Kids Club, and we’ll contact you if your lesson is selected to appear on the site. Review some of the lessons and activities below, and then view and print out a template to get started. View or download a template (PDF: 235k)."

If you are involved with the Digital Kids Club, leave a comment and share your links!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Video Modeling Software for visual learners, including those with autism spectrum disorders.

Here is a clip about the Activity Trainer, video modeling software that supports the following skills:

  • Academic
  • Communication
  • Daily Living
  • Non-Verbal Imitation
  • Recreation
  • Social
  • Vocational

A free 30-day trial of the software can be downloaded from the Accelerations Educational Software website.

On the Accelerations Educational Software website, you can find other products, such as Storymovies, which is the product of a collaboration between Carol Gray (social stories), Mark Shelley, and the Special Minds Foundation.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

NextGen Teachers - NextGen School Psychologists?

I came across the NextGen Teachers blog, "Educators connecting to explore the next generation of teaching and learning", and noticed that the members of this blog post specific "how-to" information about what works in their classrooms.

If you are a teacher, school psychologist, related services provider, special educator, or anyone interested in the use of technology to support efforts such as Response to Intervention (RTI) and 21st Century Schools, take a look at what NextGen Teachers are writing about. It is small group, created by Doug Belshaw, a high school history and ICT teacher in England.

I wonder if there any NextGen Psychologists out there, involved with innovative technologies. I know of a few, but I'm sure there must be more....