I recently read a post that asked how teachers could expose children to more technology in the classroom. I thought this was odd. It was like asking how to introduce water to fish.
Over the years I’ve relied on technology, which saved me during critical moments in my development as a learner. Technology liberated me to learn. In fact, I can’t imagine a group of people who have benefited more from technological breakthroughs than those who learn differently. I talk about this in Daveland:
“My writing skills grew with computer technology. As software improved, my spelling improved; eventually my visual world came closer to my auditory world. I even made a game out of eliminating colored lines from the text. The computer didn’t make it personal; it didn’t care if I misspelled the same word five different times in the same document and it didn’t care if the second part of my sentence didn’t match the first. It just pointed it out and rewarded me by taking the colored line away when I fixed the problem. It still allowed me to write wrong words correctly, as when gallery becomes allergy, but nobody’s perfect, nor are computers.
Writing on a computer saved me, but not from the stress of computing. Even though my problem demanded I be a pioneer—being the first person I knew with a home computer—the visually complex buttons and prompts made it difficult to find what I needed and easy to press what I didn’t; my computer desktop was as disheveled as my real one. I tried to make sense of the manuals, but they didn’t seem to be written in any human voice I knew. In fact, I may be a case study at Apple Computer. Somewhere there’s a training module describing the unimaginable horrors I committed, my name passed around customer service like neighborhood parents keeping tabs on the new pedophile who just moved into the halfway house down the street. I’m sure I’d become an urban myth there, people thinking that no one like this could actually be real and still have the ability to convert oxygen for his brain. They all knew me at Apple, and not in a good way.”
Despite my love/hate relationship with technology my greatest battle was with education’s slow acceptance. Some of us may remember the controversy over the use of calculators in the classroom when they became the standard for working complex math problems. Then came computers. I was delighted to buy my first computer and printer only to have my graduate school advisor reject my papers because they didn’t look like they came from a typewriter, so I was forced to pay someone to retype my papers. Those disagreements seem so quaint and provincial now. Currently we have powerful communication, information, social, organizational and creative tools that I could never imagine when I used my first computer as a glorified typewriter.
Like it or not, our kids are relying on it daily as a learning tool: mostly outside the classroom. These tools have the power to topple centuries of oppression (Middle East) or to destroy ourselves. That’s why teachers need to be wise guides. This is even more important in the LD world as we search for that new aid that will be an equalizer for us in life. In this sense, we lead the technological charge for learning. For the LD kid technology can open doors that would never have been possible just a few years ago as devices and their apps create new possibilities.
I will post more about technology in the future but now it’s your turn. I would like to know your stories about using technology and how that impacted your learning and your own Living with Dave story.