Sunday, March 29, 2009

IEP development

Although this is an audio clip and not a video clip (it's origin is a radio broadcast), I think this information would be helpful in any of my higher education classes. By the time my graduate students reach my upper level classes, I've assumed that they have retained some of the basic information in IEP development and have written PLEP statements, goals and objectives, etc. However, I have found (the hard way) that this is not always the case and have found myself hastily reviewing IEP writing for one or two students, while the rest of the class looks on half-heartedly. I would love to use some different types of medium, even if it is just a video clip, to review some of this information, which is critically important, but not always super-exciting to students.

Introducing an audio clip would hopefully break up the monotony of the tedious topic and grab some students' attention. Additionally, this particular audio clip is from a radio show that is broadcast here locally, by a woman named Monica Moshenko. Monica is the mother to a young boy named Alex, who has autism. Monica has advocated very strongly for her son; this radio show is just one of the many ways she has decided to share her knowledge and resources with others.

I really like the idea of using video and audio for classroom use. I find myself in some of the same old ruts as others, my old standbyes are Youtube and Google Videos. Although I find some really good stuff on those sites, I was excited to see Odeo, as I've never heard about it before and love trying new things. I did see many links that went right back to Youtube but also saw many, many clips and segments of shows that are not available on Youtube, so I feel as if I have expanded my arsenal of resources a bit. I loved the list that Dr. Burgos provided on our syllabus, because although I only needed to look at one or two sites, I found myself clicking on all of them to see what they could offer.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Twitter: following others to great research

I am following a fellow Twitter member who has created a pathway to disseminate information regarding autism through tweeting. I'm really interested in the neurology of autism, particularly in an area which examines a condition called agenesis of the corpus callosum (where the connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain is not functioning properly) . Individuals who have savant like abilities are frequently associated with this condition, but researchers have long suspected that all children with autism have dysfunctional corpus callosum. This tweet led me to a great abstract (which led me to a great article) examining the relationship between autism and this condition. It is still difficult to determine if this relationship is causal or correlational but it is fascinating, nonetheless.This tweet, called Translating Autism, has quickly become one of my favorite tweets to follow. I'm waiting anxiously for the tweet promised for tomorrow, which will discuss the Amygdala: the portion of our brains that govern our social abilities, among other attributes. I'm excited because in education, I don't often meet other researchers who share the same clinical interests in neurology that I have, so this has opened up a whole new world for me!

My thoughts on Twitter

I really like the idea of using Twitter to keep in touch with my higher education students immediately after a class meeting to make connections, elaborate on information shared, and relay after-thoughts. Many times, I will think of information that I would have liked to add during a class discussion but may not have had an opportunity or time constraints may have made me hesitant to do so. Presently, I put my thoughts into an e-mail or post on our discussion board.

However, I was fascinated to read in the box of tricks website,, that secondary students (ages 15-18) immediately check into social networking sites as soon as they can get to their computers. It was would be unreasonable to think that college students, particularly undergraduates, would act any differently. How much more efficient it would be to have the immediate connection of a Twitter posting, directly following a class discussion, while the information is still fresh in the minds of the students? The information relayed might be the same time of information that I would normally send out in an e-mail or discussion post, but using the vehicle of a Twitter or something similar would have a more profound impact on the student, as Twitter would have more immediate relevance and incentive for them than checking into their Buff State e-mail account.

Jeffrey Young raises valid points in his article discussing Twitter and college students. Although, as he mentions, iPhones and similar devices are becoming more and more common on college campuses, there is still the issue of cost to the student for a texting program, or for some, even the expense of the cell phone device itself. However, as Young mentions, Twitter messages can easily be sent to a web-based computer as opposed to a cell phone and it is true that many college students have package plans with mobile phone providers which allow for unlimited number of texts per month.

Young further discusses how some experts in the field of information technology feel that Twittering will never reach the heights of popularity that Facebook or e-mailing enjoy among young adults. That remains to be seen as Twitter is still in its infancy stages of development and exposure. Young raises several interesting points on is blog, located at

My thoughts about Twitter for personal use are a bit conflicted. I don’t really need another reason to be held captive in front of my computer, so I’m not sure how much I would use Twitter from a social point of view. That being said, I am excited to use Twitter for my college-aged students in a variety of ways. I do like how instant Twitter is and contrary to my initial thoughts, it doesn’t appear as if students use it exclusively in self-obsessive or narcissistic ways. Hopefully, it can be used as a way to disseminate information on a frequent, daily basis. I like the idea of sending students a message, probing question, writing prompt or thought for the day which would be relevant for their lifestyle, but still get them thinking about subject matter which we are currently discussing in our coursework. Students very often comment on the value (or lack thereof) that they find from their college classes, as they have a difficult time relaying what they are hearing, seeing and/or reading in practical, meaningful ways into their life. I think Twitter can bridge that gap and disseminate information in a manner which is current and relevant for a student.