A few months ago I was asked to meet with a student who uses a Tobii Device. The Tobii allows the user to manipulate a computer or communicate purely through eye gazing. I have seen things like this on TV but never in person. The young lady I was asked to meet has cerebral palsy and the Tobii is her primary way to interact with the world around her.
Today I finally got to meet her. I have to say I was nervous. Frankly, I have no experience with adaptive technology, though I have always wanted to be more versed on it, the opportunity and the funds never seemed to be available.
So while still in my car, I said a prayer and asked to be of service, that there is something that I can do to help her. I needed to remember this is not about my inexperience, but about my strengths, and hers. She knows her environment and how to manipulate it, I just need to become her student as well as a teacher.
I enter the classroom to broad smiles from everyone (feeling truly wanted in your job is a wonderful feeling). There she was, the owner of the warmest eyes I have ever seen, smiling brightly and ready to learn.
The Tobii she is using is a loaner, this one does not have Wifi and that can be incredibly frustrating for a teen who needs access to resources to learn, research or just have basic communication. In order to teach her today we had to move to 3 different classes just to find a drop that would give her internet access.
The thing I learned is she is just a teen, who loves Facebook and Youtube (Go figure!). She likes Keith Urban, so I have found a kindred spirit. I also learned today that even though the Tobii is an amazing piece of technology, she would often lose her written work and would have to email it back and forth with her teachers which is cumbersome. This is where I finally feel like I can help, Google Drive and the Chrome browser is going to be a game changer for her. By the time I left she had already shared a document with her teacher.
On our next visit we started calibrating Chrome to save my new student time. We now have her signed into Chrome, and have pinned tabs for her, so she no longer needs to go through the considerable task of logging in to email, calendar or even Weebly (yes she will be blogging. From the moment she opens Chrome it will remember where she has gone, and will have her most important tabs open for her.
NY TECH ED was extremely fortunate to be able to get some time with two experts in educational Google Apps scripting, Bjorn Behrendt and Andrew Stillman. They are the minds behind some of the most commonly used scripts in schools using GAFE including Doctopus, Goobric, and gClassFolders. The conversation covered how they got into Google Apps scripting, different ways to get started on your own, as well as overviews of some of the more useful Google Apps scripts.
To learn more about Andrew and Bjorn and some of their exciting, innovative work, you can check out Bjorn's Edlisten site as well as Andrew's YouPD site.
The broadcast cut off the first two minutes of the hangout so the only thing missing is our glowing introduction of our two guests. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know below. Enjoy!
On Friday, April 12th, Google Certified Teachers and Trainers were invited to come back to Google NYC for a GCT Reboot to find out about the latest and greatest happenings with Google technologies in education. In this hangout, Reboot attendees Alice Barr, John Calvert, Jesse Lubinsky and Jennifer Cronk discussed the event in detail. We were particularly lucky to have Alice join us as she was one of the organizers of this year's GCT Reboot. Overall we were so happy with how GCT Reboot 2013 turned out and simply can not wait for the next one!
For more information on the Google Certified Teacher program, you can click here.
Our first Hangout- Google Docs in the Classroom
Yesterday's inaugural Hangout was a great success, we have definitely found our venue for sharing and growth. We discussed practical application of Google Docs in the Middle School, High School and we even touched on the use of the Haphara dashboard for teachers. (Thanks to John Calvert).
Out of yesterday's conversation came the idea to have another hangout next Friday March 22nd in the afternoon to discuss domain management. A special thanks to Jesse Lubinsky, Sabrina Rich, John Calvert, Paul Lepore, Greg Montague, Patrice Hatjygeorge, David Gee, and John Sebalos for your participation!
Pencil in next Friday for The "Dish" on Domains and more Google Geekery. (I am digging alliteration this mor