Now that my Alternative Practicum block is coming to a close, I felt the need to take a few minutes to share what I have learned. I have had the opportunity over the past three weeks to immerse myself in the world of assistive technology, and I am very thankful for this experience. While I was already aware that such supports existed for students (I’ve even used a couple of them myself during my undergraduate years!), I had no idea just how much of a variety of devices and programs were available. I’ll post a more detailed summary of some of them soon, but I have been able to produce product guides and other documents for two models of Livescribe Smartpens, built-in assistive technology for both Windows and Mac computers, Google Chromebooks, and iPads. I am definitely blown away by the level of technological sophistication that these devices have, and the efforts that the manufacturers have put into making the lives of students and other individuals with special needs easier.
Although I do believe that as teachers, we need to be careful about how we choose to incorporate technology into the curriculum (because it definitely has the potential to be misused), this placement has provided me with a great deal of information about the types of assistive technology available to students, and the types of obstacles that they can help individuals to work around. In addition, I have learned more about learning disabilities in the last three weeks than I have in almost my entire program, and this research has been invaluable. I truly believe that this alternative practicum is going to make me a better, more effective and even more empathetic teacher, and I am so excited to apply what I have learned in my own classroom someday.