Artzy Librarian

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Avatars by SitePal

I have really enjoyed getting acquainted with the concept of avatars and especially SitePal.  I did my presentation on SitePal Avatars last night for my final presentation in my  New Technology for Educators class last night. I used SitePal and its sister company Voki (Both are part of OddCast) in my own blog.  Here is my presentation, using Smilebox to show the slides.  I noted when I viewed my Smilebox creation that their frames took up part of my slide's borders. I didn't realize it would do that.  I may have to do some playing with my saved .gif files, (I saved each slide as a .gif file to upload it to Smilebox.), to see if that can be adjusted.  I hope you enjoy the presentation!

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Module #5 Curriculum Connections

I began checking out websites suggested by Discovering Assistive Technology.  The first three did not work as the site was either no longer there or had changed it address. This was a sign, confirmation that it is so important to keep information updated so it's current. And, nobody, no matter how conscientious, can escape being outdated sometime! So, I continued to explore.

Shelly, Cashman, Gunter, and Gunters in our textbook, Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom, give a good website for integrating and creating video, into lessons. The program is Camtasia Studeo 4.  It looks like an affordable way to create video with and for students. This text discusses screencasts which are digital recordings of a computer's screen output, often containing audio. (p. 197) Students enjoy seeing and working with video which makes this a positive addition to a lesson plan. Teachers are encouraged to make learning active, exploratory, and inquiry-based, says our text.  (p. 451) This is true for all students and they need to have the hardware and software to support this learning.

What we have been exploring and practicing in this blog, is so applicable to the classroom. Having students participate in a blog is a great idea for interaction. So many skills are met! Making sure that all students are able to participate is crucial.  The assistive technology needs to be there.

I enjoyed reading the two lesson plans displayed under Module 5. The first lesson involved students in discovering what their perceptions of disabilities are and what they think, know, and learn.  The 2nd lesson what a great visual.  I've seen a class project using a pizza model before.  Students identify with this!

These are my responses to Dicovering Assistive Technology.

#1  One thing I learned that will stay with me is my awareness of Assistive Technology for students and others with disabilities.  I am amazed that there are so many ways to assist with learning, playing, enjoying, and just living.  I think the example that sticks out most for me was the video of  Beth Ann Luciana  a woman with Cerebral Palsy who gets a voice with her DynaVox. That really made me think about what a person can accomplish, that anything is possible.  I've always believed that everybody can learn.  This proved it for me.  If assistive technology helped Beth Ann (With a lot of personal grit and determination) I can't wait to see what it can do for the students I work with!  I want a library that is available and usable for all.

#2  I really did enjoy the Discovering Assistive Technology tutorial.  I work best when I have direction, when I'm shown the possibilities.  Then, I'm more comfortable striking out on my own. This tutorial did that for me and, yes, I'd do it again and will recommend it to others!

#3  I was able to connect to the list of books with stories about children with disabilities.  I'll add this list to my LibraryThing site! What a bonus for a school library to have! By the way...I've tried several ways to add a link to the Discovering Assistive Technology Library Thing Link.  So, I'm asking, can anyone help?  Please!  I was able to add it as an interesting library but as far as I can tell that just gives me the latest changes to their LibraryThing site.  So, for now, here is the link.  Assistive Technology Library Thing site.

I have really enjoyed learning more about Assistive Technology!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Module 4-Etiquette and Awareness

Looking at the wiki from CSLA there are lots of lessons students and others need to learn about the Cyberworld.  Just like in the "regular" world there are etiquette standards that need to be taught and learned. I think a lot of students don't see the harm in "having a little fun" with someone on the computer.  However, the results can be disastrous. Reputations can be damage, images and feelings hurt.  I think cyberspace is a place where people may feel a bit a anonymity and strike out more viciously than they might in person. There definitely needs to be repercussions for those who do not exercise proper digital citizenship. From Boy's Life magazine, here are two websites that give information about bullying. Stop Bullying Now! and CyberBullying Research Center give a lot of information and have a lot of appeal to younger and middle age students.  Its a good place to start teaching how to act online!
#1 All Students, with and without disabilities participated in an all school morning meeting.  It was wonderful to observe all of them participating, acknowledging, and enjoying being with each other.  Disabilities need not be an obstacle for friendship, learning, and working together.  Discovering Assistive Technology had us explore basic etiquette when meeting persons with disabilities.I know I tend to first think of disabilities as those I detect.  But, disabilities are not always apparent.
#2. I took the Disability Awareness quiz given on this weeks module.  I did pretty well but it's always good to have a refresher on etiquette.  It's also easy to become embarrassed or ill at ease when in a new situation.  This quiz showed me I know what to do; hopefully, I can apply it!  I do think the preferred language does change from time to time for persons with a disability, just as it does for racial groups, gender preferences and other "labels" that we give others.  Staying current on what manners, actions, and language is preferred is a common courtesy.
#3. I went to the Liberty Resources website as suggested by Discovering Assistive Technology. I was looking for information about the Philadelphia Center for Independent Living. The goal of the center is to allow persons with a disability to live as independently as possible.  They have four core services:  Advocacy, information and referral, peer support, and skills training. Their mission statement is:  "Liberty Resources, Philadelphia’s Center for Independent Living, advocates with disabled people, individually and collectively, to ensure our civil rights and equal access to all aspects of life in the community." I would like to do some exploring and check out the center!
#4. I explored websites that proved useful in learning about Assistive Technology.
Our textbook, Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom, by Shelly, Cashman, Gunter, and Gunter had a lot of suggestions in chapter 8 which we read for this week.  This chapter discussed security issues, ethics, and emerging technologies in education. One of the sites on Assistive Technology was a site to make web content more accessible. They had suggested WebXACT but it is no longer a viable website.  Instead, I found W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Webstyle Guide, 3rd edition is also a good website.  It has information for building websites and a goal of Universal Usability.  I enjoyed the section on Information Architecture which I'm interested in. Lighthouse International has a website that offers suggestions for making websites more viable for persons with partial site and color deficiencies. I know my brother does not see differences between red and green among other colors. I hadn't even thought about exaggerating light and dark contrast to help him discern things better.  So much to learn and be aware of!.WAVE from Web Accessibility Online has a website you can put your URL in and they will assess your website for accessibility.  The Americans with Disabilities Act homepage gives all sorts of information about legislation, links to useful agencies, design standards for accessibility,  business connections, and other FAQ's. This is a "jampacked" website!