Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Caveat

As I ramble on and on here about technology resources that you can use in your therapy, I need to disclose that there is a price we pay for technology integration, especially and paradoxically when it is free. First of all, your therapy materials on your shelves are always there, reminding you that you can use them anytime. Games, books and toys are in that way easier to incorporate in your therapies. Something like Linguisystems' Category Card Games (one of my go-tos by the way) doesn't take much planning to utilize in those oh-yeah-I-have-to-see-him sessions, and you know it will benefit the student. The resources we discuss here take a lot more planning (What are the targets? What are the pre- and post- activities? How do I take data?) and organization to build into your sessions. This is one reason I am a strong advocate for using social bookmarking and resource organization tools such as diigo, which allow you to tag sites in multiple categories such as sentenceformulation, science, grade2, so you can find things later by looking for them in any of these categories. I say all of this just so you know that I don't think tech integration is always easy. We see the benefit, though, in our engagement of difficult-to-engage students, the multisensory nature of technology, and the easy access to curriculum-related interactives that would be difficult to create in other ways.

So now to the second part of my caveat. Sometimes these resources go away, or change in ways that make them less usable, or unusable. Maybe your computer will age so that you are one undoable update removed from being able to use a resource. Unless your office burns or floods, God forbid, the same is not going to happen to your board games. I say all this now because I occasionally find that some of my favorite sites return me a 404 Not Found error, and then of course there is delicious, of the uncertain future. You can't back up an interactive site you love, but you can back up your bookmarks, for example, and if you use a site that allows you to download or export your creations freely, well then you always should!

Just putting all that out there. Have you experienced any technological mourning recently? Let us know in the comments.


  1. Sean,
    I've participated in a workshop a few times now called UDL 2.0 where we show different Web 2.0 tools useful for students. Each time I have had to change the presentation because a website or service has changed.

    Three quick examples:
    1. Webspiraton (Online graphic organizer version of Inspiration. It was perfect for online collaboration - sort of like Google Docs): Originally free, then changed to a paid service.

    2. Etherpad - Sort of like stripped down version of Google Docs - bought by Google. Versions still exist (Piratepad for instance) but I find it less reliable.

    3. Xtranormal - I totally dig the text to movie. Just a few weeks before the latest presentation Xtranormal changed their structure to include a microtransaction model. There are still free components, but still, not like it once was.

    There are alternatives to each of the tools mentioned above, but I think it helps to illustrate your point. Things change and there will always be a necessity for low-tech strategies.

    Nice Post!

  2. Hey Chris- good examples. I was bummed to hear about Webspiration, though I knew it would happen eventually. They were basically giving away Inspiration for free!

    The xtranormal thing really threw me for a loop. I had just written this big post about it for socialthinking.com, complete with a handout w/screenshots etc. Not only did it turn unfree but they changed the whole interface so I had to do it all over!

    BUT, I do want to say that they fulfilled their promise to offer educators special status. If you go through support on the site and inquire about educator status (refer to your blog too)- they gave me enough points to publish like 15 movies! Not bad...