Friday, December 11, 2009
If I have to select the most important thing that I learned through this tutorial, I would have to pinpoint being exposed to the vast software and hardware options available for subscription and/or purchase. In a general sense, I was aware that there are countless technology aids to help those with disabilities. However, researching and reviewing these specific tools exposed me to just how advanced these assistive technology tools are.
Do you plan to recommend this tutorial? If so, please elaborate.
Of course I will recommend this tutorial. It is very thorough and provides insight into overcoming disabilities that a vast majority of people probably are not exposed to. When we think of a disability, many subconsciously think of physical disabilities - even as teachers who are around learning disabilities every day. The tutorial succeeds in balancing the information presented in terms of physical disabilities and learning disabilities.
Do you plan to read or recommend some of the Recommended Reading books or add them to your collection? Will you link our LibraryThing list to your blog? If you have a book recommendation or have read one of the books that does not include a review, please send us your own review so we can share it.
The list is very extensive, but I definitely plan to read a few of the titles on the list. I already have read a few of the books: The Giver (one of my favorite novels)and Freak the Mighty. I haven't read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but I have seen it in bookstores and been intrigued. I didn't realize the main character has a learning disability. The book is usually reviewed very well, so I will probably buy it and read it over the Christmas break. A few others on the list that I am interested in reading are Flying Solo and The View From Saturday.
The tutorial is an excellent way to learn about all types of disabilities, how to incorporate assistive technology in libraries and in classrooms, and how to most appropriately interact with people living with disabilities so as not be insensitive or condescending.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I took the Disability Awareness Activity Quiz, and I must admit that I did not answer every question correctly. As a society, we are so concerned with not making someone uncomfortable, that we end up doing just that. Of course, there are those who are completely oblivious to the feelings of others, but they would probably be rude or uncaring to anyone, whether he or she is a person with a disability or not. For the most part, however, I think that people want to interact with those living with a disability - they just don't know how to go about doing it without inadvertently offending them. The Ten Commandments of Communicating with People with Disabilities is a very useful, practical guide to follow. One of the questions on the quiz that I missed was, "When conversing with a person who uses a wheelchair, it is preferable to pull up a chair, if available and convenient, and converse at eye level." I answered "False", but the answer is "True". To me, it seems more logical to stand as you normally would, as if to (figuratively) say, "Yes, I know you're in a wheelchair, but we are equal and it seems much more patronizing to make it obvious that I am making an attempt to discuss something at eye level at you." Apparently, this is not the case. I think the nuances of situations like these make people without disabilities uncomfortable with interacting with people with disabilities.
I have a personal example that I still think about. My wife and I were married four years ago. My mother-in-law's friend attended the wedding. She is a person who uses a wheelchair. We decided to do something a little different at the end of the ceremony. Instead of a receiving line, we dismissed each row ourselves at the church and thanked our guests for coming as they left the church pews. My mother-in-law's friend - I'll say her name is Sherri - was seated at the far end of one of the pews with her husband. As we were dismissing rows, we came to their row. Obviously, Sherri couldn't walk down the pew row for us to greet her and her husband, and I didn't know what to do. Should we have walked down the aisle and greeted them, putting them at the center of (I am assuming) unwanted attention? I wanted to thank them for attending the ceremony just as I was for everyone else. I cringe at what I actually did. I sort of waved at them and then quickly looked away. I still think about that and I still don't really know what we should have done. I hope that I didn't make Sherri feel too uncomfortable at that moment. I guess the reason I wanted to share this story is this - Being aware of how we should interact with people living with disabilities is not always a black-or-white, right or wrong issue. There are still shades of grey, but being familiar with the general consensus of what is considered appropriate will go a long way as far as willingly interacting with people living with disabilities.
Here are a few websites that are useful tools in locating and evaluating assistive technology:
Note: I have tried the Insert Link option and been to the Help section many times, but I cannot get the websites to link properly. I am not sure what option I have clicked on this blog site that is not permitting me to link these websites.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
InfoEyes is an excellent service for the visually impaired. The service provides live library support, which I am sure few information sites can match. I don't think I have ever heard iVocalize software being used, but I am sure it has similar features to the assistive technology software that I reviewed.
I was definitely surprised that the basic Windows Vista software available at my fingertips is so extensive when it comes to assistive technology. The options and adjustments that can be made to aid a user with a disability are quite extensive. Actually, there were probably more tutorials about the various options available for Vista than for the other assistive technology software that I read about.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
It is amazing just how much hardware is available for disabled citizens. EnableMart is an excellent website that provides purchasing options for hundreds of devices that aid people with disabilities. While I was browsing through the hardware available on the website and the links provided on the Discovering Assistive Technology webpage, a few stood out. IntelliKeys is a device that is considered by many to be the "leading assistive technology in the world." Looking through the thousands of assistive technology devices available, this seems like a bold statement. However, IntelliKeys probably is the leader in assistive technology because of its versatility. Specifically, its high contrast colors and different keyboard configurations aid several disability groups, including the visually impaired and learning disabled. The Roller Plus Joystick also stood out as an extremely helpful technological aid for people with severe motor impairments.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The National Federation of the Blind website provided many useful links to information and ideas on how to instruct visually impaired students. The 2009 Youth Slam is an excellent way for blind students from all over the United States to gather, interact, and discuss their classroom obstacles, their inspirations, and their aspirations. Braille is Beautiful is an excellent program that teaches sighted students how to read and write Braille. I reviewed the link for this program and I would definitely find a way to fit it into my curriculum so that my students would have a better appreciation of the struggles and obstacles that their visually impaired classmate must deal with on a daily basis. On a much more practical note, my visually impaired student could more easily participate in peer-reviewed activities if his or her classmates could read Braille.
LD.org, the website for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, is a very useful research tool for teachers. The numerous links vary from general information concerning learning disabilities to links that discuss specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia. The Resource Locator feature on the website is a great search tool for teachers, administrators, and parents alike to find outside help and/or assistance, if needed. Information and/or local aid concerning a learning disablity can be found using a basic keyword search.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
A few of the Web 2.0 tools stood out to me. I will absolutely use my Bloglines account, Technorati to keep track of blogs and editorials, my Zoho account, and my LibraryThing account. These are the sites and accounts that I will probably use the most in the near future. After putting so much work into this blog, I plan on keeping it updated with information related to 2.0 tools.
I am now familiar with several Web tools that I would otherwise not have explored on my own. Perhaps I would have inadvertently stumbled upon them during an information search or something like that, but this course forces you to use these tools for a purpose. The neat thing about the course is that completing the exercises is pretty fun, and you can't really say that about most coursework. I wish I could, but I just can't - with this blog being an exception.
Finally, here's a sentence that sums up the course for me: A cool method of learning how to use Web 2.0 tools without repetition and monotony getting in the way.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
This does not mean that e-books and audio books are not really cool innovations. I visited some of the free e-book websites, and the material available at the click of a mouse is pretty amazing. I specifically enjoyed exploring LibriVox's website. I found a short story by Kurt Vonnegut that I hadn't read before called 2BR02B. I listened to it, and it was an above average short story. I always find that short stories are hit-or-miss. Anyway, LibriVox is different in that it encourages users to volunteer to read and record the dialogue of the available books and/or stories. In the story that I listened to, five different readers contributed to the recording. That is pretty cool because it takes the monotony out of listening to one voice for the entire duration of the reading.
I was so impressed with LibriVox that I added the RSS feed to my BlogLines account. It will alert my account when there is a new reading added to the website.
I checked out Podcast.com and PodcastAlley.com to locate a few podcasts that I could add to my Bloglines account. Once I re-consulted the directions (after some trial and error) for adding the RSS feeds, I added two podcasts to my account. One is educational, while the other is definitely informative, but only for a sports fan. The first podcast is called EscapePod, which is dedicated to science fiction writing and reviews. Out of any genre, science fiction is my favorite, so I wanted to add this podcast so that I can receive updates on the latest science fiction works hitting the stores. The second podcast is titled Pardon the Interruption, which is a daily show on ESPN that I often miss because I am still at work when it airs. Now I can always check it out whenever I want, even if I have to work late.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Even though YouTube can be extremely useless (but fun), it can also be used as a learning tool, as long as the user is pushed in the right direction. There is a virtually endless number of instructional and/or educational videos on basically any topic or subject. Navigating around YouTube is really easy - I like the basic search feature of the site.
As far as specific videos go, I usually try to find music videos that I can't normally see on music video channels, or I look for soccer related chanting and singing. Aside from the Philadelphia Union, which begins playing May 2010, my favorite soccer team is Liverpool FC. The fans are (usually) pretty boisterous, and I enjoy watching videos of them singing on the famous Spion Kop. Although there are a lot of songs and chants to choose from, my favorite is a pretty simple one that isn't sung as often as it once was, but is still classic. It's title is "We Won It Five Times." If you type that phrase into the search engine, there are many clips of it.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Note: I'm sorry, Dr. Farmer, but I am not sure how to create a link to the above webpage. I have been searching for a while now, but all the information that I found explained what a link is, but not how to link a webpage. If you respond to this, can you please give me a pointer or two on linking the webpage? I know it's not difficult, but I just can't get it right. Thanks.
I also completed a second WebQuest lesson plan that involves more web-based activities. It is posted on the class wiki. I am not looking for a different grade or anything like that - I just thought I should, and that it will help me out in the long run if we have any other assignments related to the lesson plan.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Welcome those that are reading this from LS 589!
I will be trying to post this to my blog. If you are reading this right now, then the post worked. That makes me happy. This is one of the coolest tools I have seen so far this semester. I will definitely use it more often. Take it easy, everyone.
OK - So I didn't post this exactly right initially, but I did figure out where the greeting went and it wasn't permanently lost in cyberspace, which is good. I guess most pieces of information aren't permanently lost in cyberspace when you think about it.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Sunday, 11/1/09 at 7:36 PM - UPDATE! UPDATE! - The above lesson plan is a solid one (in my humble opinion, of course), but is probably not as web-based as it could and should be. I put together another lesson plan that incorporates more web-based activities. The lesson can be found at the following link and also on the class wiki:
Note: I'm not sure why the above links are not directly sending the user to the webpages. I couldn't figure out how to "link" them.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I don't mean to be a downer, because I think wikis are an excellent learning tool. I think it goes something like this:
Sharing ideas/opinions/reviews on wikis = Really useful and helpful
Sharing 'facts' on wikis = It can be reliable, but it can also be difficult to separate actual fact from information that someone perceives as fact but actually is a little off
Sunday, October 18, 2009
The writers of Classroom Learning 2.0 have actually borrowed some of the content of the original Learning 2.0 program and molded it to fit their needs for this course. They received permission to do this under a Creative Commons License.
I viewed several of the Discovery Resources, but the Did You Know 4.0 YouTube video was the best tool to show just how much Web technology has altered the way we find, read, and analyze information. It is difficult to believe that three of the most visited social networking websites - facebook, myspace, and twitter - did not even exist five years ago. The prediction that we will all be connected to the portable Web by 2020 is absolutely believable. We were required to read the young adult novel Feed during the previous summer semester. For those who haven't read that novel, please do. The theme of the book reminds me of just how tapped into every possible bit of available information we will be in the not too distant future.
I used the keyword "School Library Learning 2.0" and my results were very different. Under Blog Posts, I found 216,226 posts directly related to "School Library Learning 2.0." However, under Tags and Blog Directory I was unable to produce any related results. I don't think I was doing anything wrong - the procedure is pretty direct. I guess there aren't any tags or blogs with that exact phrasing.
When I looked through the most popular blogs, I wasn't exactly surprised that politics, technology, and entertainment - in that order - were the themes of the top 100 most searched blogs online. I was surprised that not one sports blog (ex: ESPN, Fox Sports) found itself in the top 100. My Dad will be happy that his favorite blog, powerlineblog.com, is in the top 50. I've checked it a couple of times, even though one of the contributors is a Blue, and as a member of the Red Half, I can't in good conscience condone that.
A searcher can find a ton of relevant information by effectively using tags to his or her advantage. However, as I mentioned in an earlier post, if a searcher is looking for a particular article or blog, tagging isn't going to aid in the search that much.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
The only reservation I have - and that may be too harsh of a term - is that sometimes tags can lead a user or searcher astray. If I'm looking for an article about a topic, how I would choose to tag the main idea or theme of the article will differ from others. No tag is right or wrong - the importance of the tag is in the eye of the beholder. In that way, I might miss out on some useful articles because the tag that I click on isn't exactly related to what I'm searching for. I noticed that some of the articles on the SJLibraryLearning2 site were tagged by terms that seemed only loosely related. Of course, that's my opinion. I guess that's my point. Do you see what I'm saying?
The Courtney chapters brought up good points about that little snag, though. Basically, if you're searching for a specific article, you're going to use the title or author as a keyword search. If you're searching for a general article about a topic, using what seems to be a loosely related tag is still probably going to generate a decent amount of useful information. It might take an extra step or two, but you'll get there pretty quickly.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Biblio.com helps with my hardback vs. paperback dilemma. I searched for a hardback version of George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia - I've been looking for one for a while - and found a few editions to that I can choose from. I'll probably purchase a copy after completing this post, actually. I like that a user can set very specific parameters (ex: first edition, dust jacket or no dust jacket, stores in the U.S. or both the U.S. and abroad, price range, etc.) so he or she doesn't waste a lot of time looking through irrelevant material. This website looks to be very useful and is a lot more thorough than more general purchasing sites like Amazon.com, Buy.com, or even BarnesandNoble.com or Borders.com.
Here is a link if you are interested: http://www.biblio.com/
I decided to check out ImageChef and designed a replica jersey of tight end Heath Miller, my favorite Steeler. For those sticklers reading this post, I know that the letters and numbers on a Steelers jersey are white instead of yellow, but this is the closest I could come up with. When I played around with the white lettering, it looked like a Raiders jersey. Not good.
Here is a link: http://www.imagechef.com/ic/football/
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I used Feedster as well, although a lot of information that I retrieved using this search tool did not seem to be very useful to meeting my objectives. While using Feedster, I located several feeds that were not entirely relevant to the initial search goals.
I see librarians using RSS technology as a way in which to minimize research necessities. I am not suggesting that using RSS should be used for the purpose of getting librarians out of tedious research. I am suggesting, however, that RSS allows a librarian to set parameters so that the collecting of research information is minimized. It is still up to the librarian to choose what information is useful for research purposes and what is not.
It is a really cool picture of Beaver Stadium during 2007's Penn State-Notre Dame game. I've never heard the stadium that loud before, and I've attended plenty of games. It was pretty amazing. I know, I know - all I seem to talk about is Penn State. I'm sure it gets more than a little annoying, but State College is a big part of my life and I'm always thinking about something related to PSU.
Flickr is a great tool and the photos at one's disposal are essentially endless. I will be using Flickr much more now that I have successfully learned to navigate and "explore" the contents of the website.