Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When Technology Fails Our Students

On occasion I do some consultation in other special education programs, typically around assistive technology. During a recent session an OT commented about how frustrating it must be to do this kind of consultation and have half a session (or more) wasted when, for example, no one knows the password to install software (or no one has administrative priviledges) or free online switch programs will not run because the system does not have the current version of flash player installed (both of which happened in one session).

It was so saddening for the TEAM in the room and myself to watch this little boy, who according to all reports has never been so motivated or so engaged, become so angry when the technology failed him. He was so excited when as a final activity for the session I challenged him to a basketball game at Help Kidz Learn and then we couldn't play it!

Today Lon over at No Limits to Learning makes a call for us to change how we use computers in special education. I would like to not only second his call but to take a step back and ask school districts and administrators to think about how they limit students who's entire lives, from communication to recreation and beyond, depend on access to current, working, accessible technology.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely agree with you and Lon about computer access in schools. I think that children and staff should not be limited by passwords or insufficient computers.

    However, I once had a supervisor who taught me to only be concerned with the things that I have control over. Since I don’t know a given install password and I can’t buy classroom computers, I don’t get frustrated over these issues during my AT consults with SpEd staff.

    My supervisor taught me to prepare by predicting all the things that could go wrong. This is where I do have control. Prior to doing an AT consult, I email the SpEd teacher or IT person to retrieve any necessary passwords. I also bring 2 fully equipped laptops (with passwords for installing software and viewing blocked websites) to use with students. If I’m going to show a video or website on the Internet to staff, I save the information to my computer via download or screen capturing, just in case the Internet is slow or not working.

    Who knows, in the future, our students and staff might all have adequate access to individual computers. But, in the meantime, I do just what is in my power.


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