Earlier this week, I attended an assistive technology workshop where I was barraged with tools that, as it turned out, we already had available thanks to my district’s device of choice, Apple’s MacBook Air. You know the type of training: “Here’s the categories; here are the options; here are their limitations [because they are free]; and here are the ones that are work paying for.” It would be easy to be overwhelmed with this kind of training and all of the details floating around as you spend less than a few minutes on every tool. But I write this post today not to gripe about this kind of training, but instead to celebrate when assistive technology breaks through and really helps students succeed. Two stories were documented in my district by a video shot recently by The 74.
Assistive technology may not be my expertise, but it was probably one of the elective education courses that left one of the biggest impressions during my undergraduate studies. I’ve written before about my work with my local school for the deaf and blind. Some of my colleagues should be credited with supporting these two students. While big one-to-one programs are celebrated for bringing technology to the masses, I prefer to celebrate the seemingly small stories of students who discovered new paths to learning thanks to what would also seem as small tools. Isn’t that how we personalize learning in our big organizations?
I have to say that the video below is strong evidence why we need to make an effort to assist student success in diverse forms. Any training can provide you with a swath of tools. Student success, however, starts with the student need and is supported by the human efforts, changes and learning by teachers, students and parents. As I’ve written before, your first one needs to be the student in a one-to-one.