Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Technology to enhance learning with students with disabilities (John Mandelberg and Annick Janson at Sharefest)

Stylized image of Buckethead in the song's vid...Image via Wikipedia
John Mandelberg and Annick Janson spoke about how technology can enhance learning for children with disabilities.

Annick Janson introduced a short video clip of her son who has Aspergers, and has discovered his talent as an artist. Technology has been found to neutralise some of the human interaction elements and as such reduces the stress for students with Aspegers. The video showed some of the strategies used (including technology that enables her son to shine! Technology made a difference because as soon as he was confronted with social situations he would shut down - now he is writing his second book, and has an international career.

The skills and ability to make a well-documented video is a craft. It is interesting that John mentioned the old chestnuts about not wanting to go to a doctor, or fly with a pilot who had learned their craft via simulations. And the other one is that he tells his students never to use Wikipedia because there is so much inaccuracy there. Yet, John sees the Internet as a way that independent documenters can distribute their work. Is it possible to be so innovative and to see the potential of technology, and yet apparently has not reflected on what he is saying about simulations (they used simulations extensively in the Second World War nto teach pilots to fly, and they still play an invaluable part in, for example, space travel). Wikipedia is a self-moderating community, and while there are some inaccuracies, perhaps it would be wiser to help student acquire the digital literacies and evaluative skills to work out if something from Wikipedia is accurate or not, rather than banning its use?

While John spoke in an informed fashion about media, there appeared to be little connection with what he was saying and ehancing learning for students with disabilities - except for in the last 3 minutes, where he pointed out that he self-funded and directed the film (which is about mental health)...more about the learners and how the technology is being used by them may have been a little more enlightening....

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