I’ve read through this article on Edutopic by Ira Socol a few times now and find something new each time.
It’s about an implementation of technology in Albermarle County Public Schools. If you follow Ira on Twitter, you’ll not be surprised that UDL is a passion and it’s part of the technology plan. I love the phrase on the superintendent’s office “All means All”.
Ira’s got a special spot on my Twitter collection as he was among one of the first group of people that I followed and I’ve never been disappointed. He doesn’t lob up his thoughts – he’s very direct and quickly gets to the point – I really appreciate that.
Take a few moments to read this article; it isn’t long but it’s rich in content. It’s summarized nicely with “Trust in Children and Childhood”. If you’re an IT Manager, you might just cringe at some of the practices but I find that it’s a truly kids first approach and let the technology help them as opposed to a technology first where we lock everything down and grant you the right to use bits and pieces of it. It’s not just a play on semantics; it’s a strategic approach.
Now, for the majority of people returning to school next week, this won’t be a reality. But, if your school has adopted a BYOD practice, you can coach students and families to use technology to enable and support their learning by following this one link from the article.
It’s the MITS Freedom Stick. “The MITS Freedom Stick is a portable, use-anywhere accessibility solution.”
People often know of a few open source resources but the MITS Freedom Stick has amassed them together with a focus on inclusion of all students. In the case of Albermarle schools, it’s installed – you can install them yourself or keep them on a memory key. It’s a great collection. Some of the titles are compared to the commercial version of the product, probably for parent/teacher convenience. Students won’t care or will already know.
This should also serve as a discussion point for so-called 21st Century schools. Are you really? Maybe it’s time to talk about Early 21st Century and Mid 21st Century. It’s not just providing a tool that should matter. Shouldn’t students have access to the tool that will make them successful instead of a one size fits all selection?
For further reading, the Albermarle County Public Schools are part of a series on Edutopia called “Schools that Work“. It’s good reading for understanding and asking the question “Why not us?”.