Blogging, traditional visuals, and assistive technologies

Most of my posts are coming from the writing I do for Walden right now, but this one includes some reflections from work as well.

How might some of the traditional visuals in chapter 10 enrich your ASSURE project? Which visuals might you use? (chapter 10)

My response to this question will be very like response earlier in the week. My ASSURE project is primarily web based (in the form of a blog), digital cameras will be the primary conduit for incorporating a variety of visuals into the instruction, especially in the later stages of the 10 hour course, when participants are creating their own blogs and sharing their own photos. As teachers themselves, the participants will be able to take pictures of their classes or their own instructional materials, which can then be included in their blogs (or Flickr archives, etc.).

However, attachments and hyperlinks will also provide important, and perhaps more often used, conduits to visual material, both during the early stages of instruction (when as instructor I will project designs and images from a wide variety of blogs and other read/write web sites) and during the exercises and final project (when participants may create charts and graphs to upload to their blogs, or may create links to additional visual material themselves.)

On another note, the "Technology for Diverse Learners" side bar at the top of page 254 caught my attention this week. It does not go into much detail, but talks about converting the text in a PowerPoint presentation into braille for visually impaired students. I spent much of the last month (since starting my new job at the county) coordinating an Assistive Technology Institute, which was hosted at the Assistive Technology Exchange Center (ATEC, at the Goodwill in Santa Ana) on Friday night and at the county office on Saturday. Sadly, prior to this event, after several years in Ed Tech I knew very little about assistive technologies. I feel I’ve seen a bit of the tip of the iceberg at this point though.

In addition to a host of ATEC specialists in a vide variety of assistive technologies, I met Carol Ann McGuire, a teacher who teaches a k-6 combo of visually impaired students… and who showcased an iMovie created by her students! They wrote it, they filmed it, and they edited it… and they can’t see. It is an amazing story. One might wonder why they chose a visual medium, but the content of the film was showcasing their abilities (rather than their disabilities) and so was meant for a sighted audience like their parents, teachers, fellow students, and those of us at the institute this weekend.

If you’re interested in checking out the video the students made… a much abbreviated version can be found on Apple’s website at the following URL:

And, a brief video about the process can be found on the OCDE web site at the following URL:

(Click on the visual next to "Get a Clue! What we can do." This will take a moment to load.)

Also, if you are interested in the Assistive Technology Institute, which we have been calling the "first annual", check out the web page at the following URL:

Oh, and for those of you in the area that might be interested (since there are so few of these), here is the website of the Assitive Technology Exchange Center:

Anyway, putting on the conference was an amazing and eye-opening experience… and seeing something similar in our chapter on Visuals prompted me to share. I still wonder how you can convert the text in a PowerPoint Presentation into braille, though… :)


Smaldino, S., Russell, J., Heinich, R., Molenda, M. (2005). Instructional technology and media for learning. (Eighth ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall



Here is another cool read/write web service. This is a web-based aggregator with tagging, bookmarking, and syndication features. Brought to you by one of my syndicated MSN searches.

Blogging… with manipulatives!

Wow, this seemingly irrelevant prompt for class sure got me going…

Describe a manipulative activity for your ASSURE project that can be augmented by a virtual activity, or vice versa. (chapter 9)

Smaldino et al (2005) provides a detailed overview of manipulatives, including discussions of real objects (including modifications such as cutaways, speciments, and exhibits, p. 214), models ("three dimension representations of real objects", p. 215), and mock-ups (simplified representations of complex devices", p. 215). However, with respect to responding to this prompt, I found the most inspiration in their discussion of computer programs and manipulatives, in which they suggested that "hands on materials included with computer software packages" might be "the best of both worlds" (p. 216).

At first it seemed it might be difficult to include hands on manipulatives other than a computer keyboard and mouse when teaching a class on blogging, RSS, and other read/write web services. However, after a few moments of thought a few related technologies which might require more full body participation came to mind.

Most blogs, including MSN Spaces and Google’s blogger allow photoblogging, or the posting of photos on one’s blog. Flickr, another read/write service that will be covered in the class, is all about sharing photos online. Participants could take pictures of their classes or projects to blog about them.

I am also very interested in podcasting (named for Apple’s seemingly ubiquitous iPod), which is a more sophisticated method of posting audio content through a blog in order for the audience to download it to their personal digital music player and take it with them to listen to when reading is not convenient or when text is not a rich enough medium. Participants could use an iPod (with an iTalk for recording) to record their classes or projects and add this to their blogs and feeds as well.

Both digital cameras and iPods (w/ iTalks for recording) are portable and allow engaging physical interaction with the device.

Also, though it is a higher bandwidth publication medium, vodcasting (sounds like podcasting and means video-on-demand ‘casting) is catching on, too, so participants could use digital video cameras to capture just about any real world event, and then add it to their blog and RSS feed.

However, this felt too easy, so I gave it a bit more thought… and through these devices, nearly any other manipulative could become part of a blog. Real objects, models, mock ups, and performances of all kinds could be photographed, recorded, or "filmed." This is not much of an intellectual leap either, but it represents the true power and ease of blogging as a means of personalized publishing. Imagine what teachers and students could do with just an average digital camera and a free blog. Imagine the power of the class blog in terms of reaching an audience, and in terms of the potential of involving parents in the class in a way never before possible. Imagine mom or dad at work when their RSS reader pings, they steal a moment to click on the new link and watch a 90 second video of their student’s latest history presentation… and then post an encouraging comment before taking another sip of coffee and returning to work! And talk about portable, accessible, and re-playable performances for assessment purposes!

I guess I should stop when I digress to sentence fragments.

At any rate, I suppose some might see this as a nightmare scenario, but boy do I want to connect all the dots on this project…


Smaldino, S., Russell, J., Heinich, R., Molenda, M. (2005). Instructional technology and media for learning. (Eighth ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall

Online course on blogs and RSS in education: Update (objectives and reflections posted)

Here is what I posted for my Instructional Design class this evening…

Regretfully, I must qualify this post by saying that there is much more I will be adding to my site as the week progresses. The past week has been very challenging at work and at home (and at Walden of course), so my procrastination on the actual content has caught up with me.

The entire structure of the lessons (including the structure of my blog) is completed. Also, all of the objectives and reflection questions are available. However, I have some work to do on the “explorations” and exercises that constitute the “direct” instruction.

I still look forward to your comments, and I apologize for being behind.


My blog (I’ve added a lot of features for this project, including all of the sections in the left and right columns – start with “Start Here” in the upper left):

Also, here is a direct link to the instructional section of the blog:!1pVGrVZfiI485ySbt5CLoe0A!244.entry