26 January 2006

Distributed Knowledge and SEN


"Every kid will choose to be good at something, you can help decide if that thing is a negative or a positive." I say that a lot. I really do think that it is true. If what I can "be good at" is being a jerk in class, than I'll be the biggest jerk possible, but if that's just one choice, if I can also be good at, say, playing the midfield in football or playing the trumpet or telling stories or - hey - maybe finding things on-line, and I can get some in-classroom validation for that, then maybe, just maybe, I'll pick one of those other things to work on.

Here's where distributed knowledge systems - wikis, mash-ups, community blogs, and others, can really change life for LD and EBD students.

I think teachers - and certainly administrators - often panic at the thought of letting "troubled" youngsters and adolescents have access to these kinds of technologies, and, yes, I'm certain problems will occur, but I think the advantages far outweigh the issues, and as in everything else in education, the right kind of supervision can work wonders (like one teacher who recently told me that her emotionally troubled students were not welcome in the school's computer lab because they'd tie the cords around each others' throats - I was about to suggest wireless technology but then decided to simply say, "you know, you can throw books too.")

Using these technologies in combination with "built-in" assistive tech systems (such as Firefox/FoxyVoice) means that students who struggle in both "learning areas" and with "attention issues" and with controlling their own behaviors in uncomfortable environments, can perform real research, do real school-work, and prove their knowledge skills to their peers, in an open and comfortable setting.

Recently I started a "wayfaring map" and watched the activities that have gone into building it with others. There are history lessons, and web use lessons, geography lessons, even language lessons - we didn't even touch on the math possibilities yet. Really, really fascinating...

1 comment:

Greg said...

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