I am passionate about two things…working with students with learning disabilities and working with technology. In my 18 years of teaching there has been a lot of beliefs, methods, and pedagogy related to the use of technology to support and enhance learning, especially with students with learning differences. There has been the struggle of compensation vs remediation, time and cost to implement, and lack of knowledge of how to utilize the various tools that have popped up over the years, as well as stigma that often went with using them.
Today technology is everywhere and is not only accepted but in many ways expected, yet schools still struggle with the yeses and nos of incorporating technology with students. Technology is not a tool to replace teaching and technology cannot be utilized in every learning situation; however, when technology can be used as a means to support/enhance access to information, why not run with it? Information comes in many forms: written, visual, auditory…Even in my childhood I recall film strips, movies, books on tape….even books on records!
Reading is a fundamental skill, there is no denying that; however, how you “read” to learn is what we should be talking about.
I recall a Sociology professor in college telling our class, I am not going to be teaching you the information, I am going to teach you how to find it. I think this translates to when it comes to content and information, we shouldn’t be teaching students to “read” it, but to engage with it in a manner that bests suits them, whether that be by eye reading, ear reading, video, or method that is suitable for their learning style and needs.
Today’s technology choices make this task so much easier, that we should willingly open the gates for students to utilize technology to build their access to information. So many have or have access to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops…all common place tools in today’s world that should be incorporated in demonstrating how students interact with content being presented.
It’s not about flipping, it’s not about assistive technology, and it’s not about technology…it’s about learning and being open to letting that happen in a way best for the student. It was not odd for me to enjoy Curious George on a record, so why not let students enjoy “reading” in a way that makes it accessible and engaging for them.
I will keep teaching my students how to read….but I will also keep showing them ways to gain information through ways that benefit them.