Our media specialist sent us teachers some nifty links, one to a group of presentations/speakers. At first this link didn’t look too interesting or useful, although the talk by Jeff Bezos was entertaining. But I drilled a little deeper and stumbled into this video by Johnny Lee that really took my breath away.
Using a Wii remote game controller, he creates an interactive white board sometimes called a Smartboard. these things typically run around $3000, but the total cost of the Wii setup is less than $75! I would think a lot of schools would be interested in this. you can find video demos on Teachertube here and here. There are probably dozens more on YouTube and any teacher into technology should be getting excited about this. Using open source software and the Wii, every teacher can have this useful technology at their fingertips.
It’s a bit late in the year for me to be diving into another technology project, but if I end up coteaching, I’ll definitely be there.
But the head array that he demonstrates is really something exciting for students that need an alternative way to access the computer and content. He basically mounted a couple of infrared dots on some sunglasses and he had something that typically costs thousands of dollars to parents that use this technology for their kids with severe orthopedic impairments. That is kind of exciting on a lot of levels and means I might be getting a Wiimote no matter where I end up next year. The biggest issue, is of course, time. I have a mountain of paperwork that I’m procrastinating from at the moment with all of my IEPs! In fact, Johnny Lee himself developed this stuff while procrastinating from doing actual projects he was supposed to be working on.
While I know a lot about severe disabilities and a lot about technology, i still have a lot to learn about adaptive technology. I know of a lot that exists, but I have never gotten my hands on a head array or other alternative switching devices besides the standard switches we use. So while I’m up on a lot of things, I still feel behind on adaptive technology. The sad thing is, is that I’m still way ahead of most teachers serving this population. In the span of 8 years I’ve learned a lot, but most teachers don’t last more than 2 years.
Technology can change the way students access material but learning is still a function of a series of antecedent – response – consequence chains. I’m excited about the potential, but it won’t be realized until more of us teachers get it into our hands and have a chance to really fiddle around with it.