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ED TECH 597: Working out the Bugs

ladybug chase elementsThis past week, the ladybug app left me with a few bugs of my own to work out. Developing an android app by following directions is challenging, but even more challenging is how I will apply my new knowledge to education. Of course there is the possibility of opening the MIT site up to my students, but what more? Will my experience in this course and my new found skills make an impact on the way I teach and learn? Will it make an impact on the way others learn?

I continue to be inspired by my peers as we struggle to extend the lessons and create something uniquely ours. Ego is thrown out the door as we post the difficulties that detain our progress. We voice our reasoning and words of encouragement flow. It’s a refreshing change from the scoffs and muttered name calling in secondary classrooms when a student attempts to clarify an answer, suppressing the natural desire to learn. I have a plan to help teach those students to react to one another with respect and compassion. Although I’m not a “gamer” I am inspired to use this app building process to encourage my students to collaborate and “work out the bugs” of education.

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EDTECH 501: Plagiarism; Resist the Temptation!

Plagiarism (Latin plagiare “to kidnap”)

 

Plagiarism
by: brimstef

http://www.xtranormal.com/xtraplayr/12517753/plagiarism

This video (Brimacomb, 2011) covers using someone else’s work as my own (in this case “buying” a paper from a website), copy and pasting without citations, and using my own prior work without instructor permission. As these two college students talk about whether or not to go to the beach with friends, I incorporated something that I learned on this project. I was intrigued by the root (Latin “kidnap”), and found it to be useful in the script. Xtranormal is a new medium for me. I was impressed by the animation, but found the text readers somewhat difficult to understand. Nevertheless, I was excited to see how my video-graphics students became immediately engaged. I wish I could accumulate points rather than purchase them. It would make the experience more enjoyable. I used the Salmon River Joint School District Trustees’ Policy Manual (2009) as my source rather than the BSU Code of Conduct (2011), because I want to embed my video onto my high school’s home page to emphasize the three aspects of plagiarism.

REFERENCES:
Boise State University (2011). Student Conduct Program – Code of Conduct – Article 4. Retrieved October 3, 2011, from Boise State University Code of Conduct: http://osrr.boisestate.edu/scp-codeofconduct-article4/

Brimacomb, S. (2011, October 3). Plagiarism. Retrieved October 3, 2011, from XtraNormal: http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/12517753/plagiarism

Brimacomb, S. (2011, October 3). Plagiarism Video Discussion Forum. Retrieved October 4, 2011, from EDTECH Boise State EDTECH 501-4175 (FA11): http://edtech.mrooms.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=28525

Salmon River Joint School District Trustees. (2009, April 1). Policy 3202. Retrieved September 29, 2011, from Salmon River Joint School District 243: http://www.jsd243.org/2032101210144059403/lib/2032101210144059403/3202.pdf

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EDTECH 541: Microsoft Windows Vista Adaptive Devices

I hear my keys chatter as I type endless characters on the white field of the screen. “Tap, tap, clickity, snap.”  As I mentally prepare for the activity I am about to embark on, I am suddenly aware of the ease at which the words flow beneath my competent fingers, my mind, miles ahead, pausing as though to allow those fingers time to catch up. I read with perfect clarity a screen with small print due to its high resolution. I am blessed.

What would I do if my fingers were stilled in some tragic accident?  How would I form words if the river of thought was dammed by a stroke?  Would my thoughts come with such clarity if I could no longer read what I was writing, reviewing, editing?

I begin looking into alternatives that Microsoft provides on Windows Vista machines. The Portal is the Ease of Access Center located on the Control Panel.  When selected, a mechanical female voice greets me, somewhat reminding me of an android from Star Wars. She begins reading the options  “Start mag-ni-fy-er. Start nar-ra-tion….The sound drones on, ending abruptly with the de-selection of a checkbox.  I feel slightly guilty in the ensuing silence, knowing that my blind grandfather would have appreciated the independence such a voice allowed.

If one of my students were blind,  a station could be set up to operate without the monitor, saving scarce dollars.  Another tool for those students with vision loss is the magnifier which enlarges the output  on the screen by 2-16 times. The magnifier tracks either by the cursor or with key strokes. Browsing the Internet is made more appealing with the narration function paired with caption reading.  Students can perform individual research online without the dependency on an aide or their peers.

For those students whose vision is clear, but experience diminished fine motor skills an on-screen keyboard replaces the physical keyboard, allowing keystrokes via an alternative input device such as voice control, mouth wand, or some other specialized hardware. A student of mine who suffered a diving accident between school years came back in the fall suffering from quadriplegia. I researched the assistive technology and found many of the standard technologies that come with today’s Windows Vista to be unavailable or very expensive at the time. We saved many dollars borrowing physical devices from a state university lending program.  I would have liked very much for the on-screen keyboard to be available as he had a tracheotomy and was unable to speak, but he could use the keyboard well with a specialized touch device. 

Another standard feature in Windows Vista (and other previous versions) are sticky keys and filter keys. These settings have helped our students with limited motor skills since I began teaching 10 years ago. The sticky keys enable a student to enter shortcut key strokes one at a time rather than the controlling command key(s) (usually control, windows, alt, shift, or some combination of those keys) having to be held down while a hot function key is pressed.  The filter keys ignore repeated keystrokes such as one might get by holding down a particular keyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

For those who are able to speak but are limited in their typing, speech recognition technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Microsoft has been very proactive in serving consumers who need alternate methods of using the computer.

Apart from optional closed captioning, my students who experience hearing loss can depend on visual clues that replace system sounds and alerts.

Microsoft continues to develop new technologies, but in my opinion they lag behind Apple’s aggressive pursuit of assistive technology.  In a perfect world we would have no need for these technologies, but my world isn’t perfect, and our district’s network is PC.  So we move forward as best we can.

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