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Day Two – Accessibility Workshop November 13, 2009

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in access, accessibility.
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We’re doing Captivate, now, which seems to have some nice features. It’s $800 from Adobe, PC only. Hahahaha. We can get it from OETC for $98.00 and $20 for the DVD. However, a MAc version is planned for v5. Might wait on it.

Today, we also talked about CSS, page hierarchies, header and element logic as well as learning about some tools that allow developers to check for accessibility, like the WAVE toolbar, a Firefox extension (w00t).

Web Accessibility Seminar in Anchorage November 12, 2009

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in access, classroom_tech, conference reportout, education.
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Sitting in a web accessibility seminar in Anchorage, hosted at and by UAA. We’re talking about maginification systems, pros and cons, right now. Spent some time a little earlier talking about using a screen reader like JAWS.

I got lots of cool links for places to check out software and such for computer access, but now I’m really excited – they’re talking about PDF accessibility. I really want to use PDF more, but need to know how to make them WAY more accessible. Should use this to train folks at the office, as well.

Tweaking user interfaces to match abilities, disabilities July 17, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in access.
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This is really good news. It’s nice to see the concept that people who have different motoric ways of accessing the world are valued enough to get computer access in a way that works for THEM, rather than in a way that works for the rest of people who aren’t as motorically involved. Keep an eye on this one, folks.

Tweaking user interfaces to match abilities, disabilities
Quite a few systems exist for disabilities like vision impairments, but not many options are accessible for people with motor impairments. The few systems that are available suffer from design flaws; most are still created based on the principle that the standard user interface is the best, so people with impairments must utilize specialized equipment to help them achieve an “average” level of usage. Other systems adjust the interfaces to a degree, but they are unable to change the overall organization of the user-software interactions.

Krzysztof Gajos, Jacob Wobbrock, and Daniel Weld from the University of Washington have been designing software systems that addresses the user-software interface problem. They presented their latest work at the 2008 conference of the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, where they described Supple , their most promising system.

embracing tech in the classroom May 13, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in classroom_tech, education, the vision thing.
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I wonder, sometimes, why this is not the norm. Why is this even newsworthy? Because it is NOT the norm. It is not the way most teachers teach. Bravo to this teacher, but how about spreading that integration of technology into the rest of the school, the district, the state?

It’s all very well that this teacher inspires his students and engages them by using the technology they see as integral to their lives. It would be even better if the leaders of the system, the power players, saw this as well. Perhaps this guy will become a principal someday, or a superintendent, and take this way of teaching to larger and larger groups.

Maverick teacher bridges the digital divide: Education | adn.com

But he is also a maverick who believes his first job is to entertain before teach and who pushes his colleagues to embrace the culture of students — that means not just performing to keep their attention but integrating their technology into the classroom.

“Kids go home and have very, very busy lives,” he says, pointing out that they text and instant-message on their phones and computers and spend hours on their MySpace pages.

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If teachers dont tap into that dedication to technology, they arent reaching their students, he says.

Warren has taught using Global Positioning System devices. Hes helped his students write a guide to geocaching, an outdoor treasure-hunting game using GPS, for the Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau. And, next year, if all goes according to plan, his students will be reading a core curriculum book using their iPods.

He plans on giving iQuizzes.

“Theres a digital gap between adults and kids these days,” he says. “And if teachers dont stay at the front end of it, were going to lose.”

Podcasting Explained Simply April 23, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in Uncategorized.
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WordPress Tips April 23, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in apps, blogging, resources & links, the vision thing.
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I’ve been spending a lot of time over at The WordPress Podcast. They have a ton of videos, most recently from WordPress Camp. This one from John Pozadzides is particularly helpful, and very applicable if you use WordPress in any way.

Original Blog Entry

why do you blog? April 9, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in blogging.
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Why do YOU blog? Comment here, at this post: http://aquaculturepda.edublogs.org/2008/04/09/share-your-blogging-experience-tips-for-participants-from-open-pd/

My response?

Where you blog and how long you have been blogging for?
I’ve been personally blogging since 2003, I think, on blogspot.com. I’ve moved personal blogging to a self-hosted WordPress site since then. I also have a new quasi-professional blog about educational technology. http://edtechak.wordpress.com . I also microblog at twitter and tumblr.

Why you blog? How does it benefit you or your work?
I blog to create and participate in a community of users. Whether it’s a personal interest, blogging allows me to see a wide range of thoughts, ideas, and concepts that I probably would miss on my own. I blog to share the knowledge that I have that others might not, because above all, blogging is a participatory sport.

How blogging has helped your students and how long have you been blogging with students (if applicable)
I moved out of the classroom to become an inclusion facilitator in the late ’90s, and currently consult as a special ed teacher, so don’t teach in a classroom.

Why you feel blogging is important
It’s important to be part of a community. That’s what being human is about.

What are the 3 most important tips you would share with a new blogger?

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff – It will never be perfect. Use that to your advantage.
  2. Write – Consistently put “stuff” on the page, even if it’s a link or web summary. Make sure to take time for it on a regular schedule.
  3. Network – read, join, and comment on other blogs. Make sure to use trackbacks on your own blog.

What are YOUR thoughts? Comment here, and on the blog linked.

learning styles and online education April 9, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in Uncategorized.
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As I plan more courses on our agency’s distance learning system, I find papers like this one to be very helpful in thinking through how to put it all together.

Designing online courses in the light of learning styles

http://lttf.ieee.org/learn_tech/issues/january2008/index.html#_Toc193951079
A quote from the paper:

The need to offer distance learning courses has led to instructional designers rushing to deliver content through web-based systems and little or no thought has been given to the quality of this content. The application of technology in education seems to be ineffective if it purely mimics the traditional face-to-face classroom. This paper argues that the way forward lies in addressing different learning styles when developing learning objects. This belief is consistent with the view expressed by Garland and Martin (2005:1) that the learning style of all students must be considered when designing online courses.

Seems intuitive, right? But it’s nice to have a study to refer to when planning things, or even when trying to “sell” a particular idea to a non-technical person.

If you’re interested in Ed Tech, April 9, 2008

Posted by kgalyen in resources & links.
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Then one thing you might want to check out is the Learning Technologies newsletter by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.). It’s in PDF and HTML format. Currently they are in the process of putting together a Learning Technologies journal (call for papers). Right now the site isn’t pretty, but it’s full of up-to-date information on learning technologies in education.

The January 2008 issue has information on virtual 3D worlds put to use within the classroom context. virtual world

Check it out! :)

I, Cringely Knows Best April 7, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in education, the vision thing.
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I, Cringely . The Pulpit . Ozzy Knows Best | PBS

The question that has so far gone unanswered in this series, then, is how will we learn in the future?

Its easy for old farts like me to assume everybody will learn the way we did, but thats unlikely simply because the underlying assumptions are changing. When I was a kid human labor was cheap and technology was expensive. Today technology is cheap and getting cheaper, while human labor is expensive and becoming more so. Yet our model of education technology is still so defined by that remembered Apple IIe in the corner of the classroom that is it difficult for many to imagine truly pervasive educational technology.

This is in large part because there is no way that Apple IIe or any PC is going to somehow expand to replace books and teachers and classrooms. For education, the personal computer is probably a dead end. Its not that we wont continue to have and use PCs in schools, but the market and intellectual momentum clearly lie elsewhere.

So forget about personal computers: the future of education probably lies with digital games.

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