Making Connections – Know Students Left Behind

Upon reflection, my journey through ETEC 540 placed me in a position of having to think about how Web 2.0 technologies and Web 2.0 spaces can work to support students with severe special needs (hereafter ‘students’). Too often, the public education system, for example, relies on assistive technologies that are static, rigid, and user-centric (no social networking or social collaboration features), rather than fluid, flexible, and dynamic.

Indeed, ETEC 540 is a platform that invites us to explore and to investigate various spaces of reading and writing, from hypertexts to social media (e.g. blogs, wikis, tagging) and multimedia (e.g. YouTube). Although ETEC 540 is not defined as a community of practice (CoP), we did share and exchange content, information, opinions, ideas, and thoughts about, at least, education, politics, and learning theories in spaces like discussion forums and wiki postings. Here, a tremendous amount of knowledge was brought into two main social-communicative platforms that are much greater than any classroom with four walls.

In turn, this leads me back to how Web 2.0 technologies and Web 2.0 spaces can work to support the said students. The world of text technologies is one way, as evidenced by this course. Indeed, these students can participate and engage in reading and writing spaces that take place on the Web. Just as we have done, these students can do the same at an appropriate and suitable level. Here, I am very excited to know that there are opportunities for great learning, for collective knowledge is readily available.

Indeed, understanding technology is not so much about knowing how to use the hardware and the software as it is about knowing the purpose and the meaning behind the technology. Here, it is about expanding social networks, building social communities, and building knowledge. In this regard, the said students should be apart of this experience as well. Indeed, reading the various posts in the discussion forums and in the Weblog has led me to believe that there is room for such changes in thinking and in understanding how everyone can participate on and contribute to the Web… and have a positive presence.

I share the belief that text and social technologies are evolving in that they are becoming more pervasive, interactive, and accessible. After all, for this course, I have used Web spaces and Web tools that have connected me to my course mates, which, only a few years ago, did not exist in this particular fashion. How beneficial this would be for students who would otherwise not have an opportunity to experience this type of social interaction, positive engagement, and shared communication. Indeed, what resonates with me is that this course has taught me that this journey is only the beginning. That is, I would like to continue to bring what I have learned here into my classroom, into my school, and even into my district, for I believe that both text and social technologies complement and support differentiated instruction and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). After all, these technologies allow for interaction, communication, and collaboration as well as knowledge building and sharing in a way that no student needs to be left behind.

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