Posted May 25, 2016on:
Today I continue my journey as a consultant by revisiting experiences I used to facilitate almost ten years ago. I have designed ICT-focused modules for a group of allied educators whose work revolves around children with special learning needs.
As a teacher educator in NIE, I used to facilitate a core classroom management and special needs awareness course. Back then I relied on PBwiki (which became PBworks) and Google Sites to provide rich learning experiences.
Back then, the content of the course was centrally planned by a committee and content was stuffed awkwardly into an LMS. Once student-teachers graduated, they could not access the resources. I decided to use open wikis to provide continued and timely access.
The wikis are open to this day. Google is good at leaving things as is; PBworks annoys me at least once a year by asking me if they can claim the space.
This time round I am experimenting with the newly minted Google Spaces to provide a springboard for accessing numerous other online resource, tools, and platforms.
Some things have changed in the area of ICT for special needs and others have stubbornly remain entrenched.
The ICT-enabled learning possibilities for individuals with special needs is immense. I have been collecting online references for a few months and the possibilities are mind-boggling and heart-warming.
Like most socio-technical phenomena, the problems lie in human ignorance, indifference, and inertia. One word encompasses all three: Administration. The group that should support and enable instead enforces and blocks.
Administration is typically multilayered, and while bureaucracy is generally a pain, I have been fortunate to work with a layer that has given me some freedom. I will use that leeway to design learning experiences that are active instead of archaic and meaningful instead of mundane.
Why do I do this? I believe that every one has “special needs” when it comes to learning. Each of us lies somewhere along a continuum of preferences and abilities. A course designed by an administrator ticks boxes and reaches for the low-hanging fruit. A course designed by a learner tickles and challenges.