This is an example of teachers sharing knowledge about technology on classroom 2.0 web site (click on link above to find the site). This question addressed my need to promote inclusion in the classroom using technology. Some links can be found at Links for Life after Cal State on this blog - others - sorry you have to cut and paste.
Posted by Lorraine Ahlers-Mack on August 1, 2008 at 11:48am in Help or Feedback Needed How can I as a new teacher include my students with visual or auditory disabilities in online learning? I know that there are restrictions for using some Virtual Worlds. Has anyone come up with a way to use it so that students can collaborate in the experience? What about programs like Moodle? Can they be adapted with auditory enhancements? I would appreciate feedback. Thanks in advance.
Replies to This Discussion Reply by Karen Fasimpaur on August 1, 2008 at 2:21pm You might check that your web site or online learning environment meets accessibility guidelines. (This will ensure that tools that disabled people use, like screen readers, work.) Here are some resources on this:
Reply by Christy Tucker on August 1, 2008 at 8:03pm Visually impaired students will probably use a screen reader. You can find a number of resources available for making content accessible to screen readers. You don't have to provide an audio equivalent for everything as long as your students have the right software to read it to them. JAWS is a common screen reader, but even Firefox add-ons like Click Speak and Accesibar can make a big difference in an LMS like Moodle. Virtual worlds like Second Life are harder, partly because everything has to be accessible by keyboard. Linden Labs does have some documentation of their accessibility features.
For students with hearing impairments, provide a text equivalent for any audio. If you have video, provide real-time captions if you can and a transcript if you can't. Second Life should actually work fine for someone with a hearing impairment as long as you use text chat instead of voice.
WebAIM has a wealth of resources on general web accessibility. I recommend starting with their Intro to Web Accessibility. Ira Socol's SpeEdChange blog has lots of ideas about accessibility specifically in education.
Reply by Sylvia Martinez on August 2, 2008 at 9:31am Hi Lorraine, You might want to check out Karen Janowski's blog http://teachingeverystudent.blogspot.com/ She's an expert on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and using technology to offer access to all kids, and her blog is a wealth of resources and ideas. She's a member here too! http://www.classroom20.com/profile/KarenJ
Click on the title to find: A collaboration formatted according to designated grade levels. It is a compilation of interactive web sites for use in the classroom to support student learning in content areas, diversity and inclusion and English language learners.
This chart shows my progress over time regarding the use of technology. I have become solidly proficient in all three categories: Computer Knowledge and Skills; Using Technology in the Classroom and Using Technology to Support Student Learning
Kumar, Muthu (Fall 2004).Learning with the internet . New Horizons for Learning Online Journal. Vol. X No. 4, 12.
The author makes recommendations for teaching students how to use the Internet as a teaching tool. The recommendations on how to effectively employ the technologies and harness fully the new opportunities created by it to promote positive student learning experiences are authentic and practical and should be consciously considered when teaching.
PEDAGOGICAL BENEFITS The Internet can be viewed as providing the following three basic types of tools in the educational domain:
Tools for inquiry: ∙ to facilitate finding sources of information appropriate to a task; ∙ working to understand the information resources and; ∙ how the information resources relate to the task, and; ∙ applying this understanding in a productive way
Tools for communication: ∙ communication can be both synchronous and asynchronous and; ∙ take on many forms such as e-mail, mailing lists, newsgroups, chat and videoconferencing; ∙ involve communication with students and professionals in distant places, cultures and traditions as well as facilitating teachers to be in touch with other teachers
Tools for construction: ∙ promote learning by scaffolding varieties of authentic learning activities for students ∙ support the development of students' higher-order thinking skills ∙ enable students to demonstrate their conceptual understanding by constructing products such as web pages ∙ enable learners to regulate their individual learning progress according to their own experiences and expertise ∙ Enable learners to access a wealth of resources at their own pace and have meaningful interactions with the content information ∙ are adaptable for both individual and cooperative learning
CAVEATS: Caveats that educators need to bear in mind in their attempts to employ the Internet as a teaching aid. ∙ Students often go straight to the Web without waiting for guidance from a teacher or librarian resulting in students having a difficult time navigating the Web and locating appropriate information relevant to the tasks in their homework ∙ Students may also not differentiate between authentic web sites and sites that contain biased and inaccurate information but masquerade as being reliable ∙ Students must be taught proper evaluation skills
Teachers need to consider practical constraints that might otherwise hinder the desired implementation of lessons: Locating appropriate information on the Internet requires a variety of skills such as: ∙ ability to use Internet tools (e.g. search engines); ∙ knowledge of search techniques (e.g. browsing through an information tree) and; ∙ ability to execute the search (Carroll, 1999) ∙ ability to apply Boolean logic rules (e.g., and, or); ∙ an understanding of how information is organized; ∙ critical thinking skills that allow the searcher to make informed choices, and; ∙ a working knowledge of Internet notations; ∙ abilities such as searching for information; ∙ scanning and skimming information, and; ∙ strategies such as planning, monitoring and evaluating in executing the search
QUESTION: Can I teach these skills within my classroom?
In my classroom it will be imperative that students learn these literacy skills. I will teach then in order to ensure that my students utilize the true potential of the Internet as a learning aid.
Can I formulate assessments to check for understanding of these pre-requisite skills?
I will formulate some method of ascertaining where my students are in terms of these skills prior to teaching them and formulate a collaborative environment for peer to peer teaching if applicable.
The American Education Corporation's A+nywhere Learning System http://www.amered.com/awl_products.php provides curriculum at all grade and ability levels as well as a pre-post testing option that allows for accelerated student movement. It helped the students in the Special Needs Alternative Program (SNAP) get back on track both behaviorally and academically. June Weston used it in her one room classroom for students with special needs so that she could teach high school students a variety of subjects at a variety of teaching levels. This program also targets specific skill development in the areas of conflict resolution, social skill development, behavior management, and academic achievement.
June Weston describes her students as being fearful of failure and distrustful of adults in authority. However, their confidence begins to increase as they learn to use the computers because they control the pace of their learning. June’s biggest challenge was the mental gymnastics it took to assist many different students who were working on 10 different subjects at many different grade levels.
Can I use this program effectively in my classroom?
This program would be invaluable in an inclusion classroom. It would have been perfect for my classroom in New York. I hope that I can bring this technology with me where ever I might teach.
Can I convince my school district to invest in this software?
In light of the requirements of NCLB I believe that it is short sighted not to invest in this type of software. Teachers can clearly excelerate their student's learning and improve test scores! However, if I can't I guess it will be back to the fund-raising option.
My tool is the Wiki - I think. I viewed a thread on Classroom 2.0 where a teacher (Dai) using a moodle learning environment asked advice regarding whether to use a wiki or a blog for an online reading record. The consensus was that the wiki would provide the students with a more collaborative experience. One suggestion that I liked was to create different pages for each book so that the students working on that particular book could work collaboratively(Ric Murry). Another aspect which recommends a wiki over a blog is that all students could find out about all books even those that they are not reading(Ric Murry).
One draw back which was mentioned was how to keep track of students within the wiki environment because the teacher was using Moodle. This caused me to find out about Moodle and I signed up for it but have not yet decided if it is a viable option for me to use in the classroom.
The advantage of using blogs within Moodle might be to keep a quick record of how much and what students contribute. The grading becomes student-based in the blog, as opposed to book-based in the wiki.
The reason I would still go for the wiki is that I could monitor conversations daily, and as far as grading student contributions I would keep up with their participation daily instead of collecting their work at the end of the project.
However, Nancy Cavillones stated that: If you use an elgg-based such as Youth Voices, you can have students create their own accounts on YV, then create a community for each book. The students would join that community, and post to the community blog about the book. http://youthvoices.net
So I have to say that I would still explore using the blog as well as the wiki....