Thursday, February 21, 2008

Like making soup without a pot.

Tonight was my second presentation on computer use in education. I was doing a presentation on how computers can be used to help students with learning disabilities. Then the Internet went down in my network. It was down the next day too. Ack! What now. What about my presentation that I had prepared online with google docs?

I backed up my presentation as a pdf file on my flash drive. Why google docs doesn't let me save it as a ppt file is beyond me, as their other document programs save files as MS word .doc and excel spreadsheets. Then I did the presentation using programs that were on the local machines, and offered some hands on activities. The best was using Audacity. This program records sounds, and lets you turn it into MP3's (with the help of another program). Furthermore it lets you edit the sound, add other sounds. I demonstrated how to make an audio story, and add royalty free sound effects. Below is an embed of my presentation:

The parents were all very receptive. They asked me questions for about 45 minutes. Some were visibly frustrated by how their child is not progressing at school. Some blamed the school and the teachers and made disparaging remarks (which I stated up front that I cannot allow in my computer lab, and in my school). Others said that their school and their district just didn't know enough about their child's condition. Some parents felt that they were the doing all the advocating, and that they had to be the ones to go to the teacher, and that the teachers never sought them out.

I feel their frustration. Every parent wants to know that their child will succeed in education, and have the keys to a successful life. But, we have always been our children's best advocate. They are more than a genetic investment in the future. They are the physical proof of love and the existence of God if you ask me. We will look after them, long after they have become adults. When I asked my student services person about this, she said many parents feel frustration today and are looking for a way to fix the problem. But, sometimes you can't fix a disability. A disability is for life.
Instead let's arm ourselves and our children with knowledge. Knowledge first of what the disability is, what it means, and what it DOESN't mean. Second, let's get creative and find more tools to solve the problem. Like one of those swiss army knives that can't fit in your pocket because it is so jam packed with options.

Finally, let's not lose perspective of what the final goal is. For kids of all abilities to become happy and self-fulfilled people. What better goal can there be for education than to give kids the power to be happy when they grow up.

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