Paths to Technology encourages students to be an active part of the VI community. There has never been a more tech savvy generation of kids. Today, kids are ‘natives’ – tech users who can often use technology before they can even walk! As a ‘mature’ or ‘experienced’ TVI, my generation of teachers are “tech immigrants” – we did not grow up with technology, but we have jumped on board (sometimes with a slight push!) and embraced tech. My parents, however, are still in the ‘old world’ – they attempt to use technology, but like things simple and prefer to keep using the older tech. (Yes, my mom just gave up her trusty flip phone last month for an iPhone.) Students quickly become the teachers in all things tech-related! Paths to Technology (P2T) invites students to share their tech knowledge. Answer a question, post a comment, create a video showcasing a favorite app or create a video tutorial, or write a blog!
All sections of P2T are available to and appropriate for students and there is a dedicated page for students. P2T is a safe environment for students and is full of fun activities and tech-related information. Student bloggers can use P2T as a way to practice or improve their writing and/or vlogging skills. (Vlogging = video blogs.) In today’s multi-media society, students need to know how to create and share multimedia formats and actively interact with online communities.
One tech savvy student blogger who created a video about a coding app, said he had to really think through how to create a video from the perspective of someone who has no computer science or coding background. He had to use terms that everyone was familiar with and had to break down information into small pieces. His TVI reported that the process of creating the video and writing the post for non-techie people was a wonderful learning experience and will help him as he pursues a career in computer science.
Another student blogger, whose lifetime goal is to work for Apple, was an Apple beta tester in high school. He wrote biweekly detailed posts about software updates, accessibility, and comparisons of different products. His posts were clear, his comparison posts provided factual pros and cons of each device, along with his thoughtful impressions. This student clearly kept up with the latest in tech! This led him to tech-related work in his community – both as a volunteer at his church and paid work for individuals and small businesses. When applying to college, he included his blogging on P2T to on his application and I (as manager of Paths to Technology) was a reference. (Note: This student lived in another state and was never one of my students; several of the P2T student bloggers who blogged regularly have used P2T on college applications and/or as a reference.)
Another prolific blogger, Veroniiiica, a college student with low vision has written literally more than a hundred blogs. She writes about her experiences in K-12, college, and general life experiences. Veroniiiica has been interviewed by various groups, including Microsoft, and presents on various assistive technology topics. She recently wrote a post, What I Learned from My Teacher of the Visually Impaired for the Johnson Scholarship Foundation which included, “Paths to Technology has allowed me to share the impact my TVI had on me, and how developing strong transition skills today can create strong and confident college students for the future.” (Johnson Scholarship Foundation financially supports Paths to Technology.)
One TVI shared how a student-created post helped her school administration decide to purchase a piece of tech. She wrote, “. . .that video with a high school student using PDF app and scanning documents. The district was hesitant and questioning why we pushed for that technology – iPad Pro at the time was expensive – but it was a game changer for him. They (administration) see that P2T post so clean and official from Perkins School for the Blind in Boston. . . helps immensely next time we are recommending tech. Thank you!”
Not every P2T blogger blogs regularly. Some student bloggers share one or two posts as a class project or just for the fun of it. Several students (and TVIs!) have said that they are not writers or not exceptionally techie. While that may be the case, I KNOW you have something you can share! Some of the most popular posts are simple video tutorials doing tech things that are a daily part of your day. Example: How to Excel with JAWS. A TVI recently asked for a quick video tutorial about how to use JAWS with email, as she has a student who is just starting with JAWS. Are you using a Chromebook? Paths to Technology is actively seeking people who can post about Chromebooks! As the manager of P2T, I am more than happy to email with your student to provide support, discuss potential blog topics, etc.
A teacher at summer tech camp held at a school for the blind, shared that she assigned various tech topics that her students had to look up Paths to Technology and master. Each student then had to write a publish a tech-related post on P2T.
Classes about to begin again – perfect time for your student to write his/her first blog post!
Interested in blogging? Contact us: [email protected]
By Diane Brauner