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What are the steps an adaptive technology training practice or centre needs to take in order to ensure it's existence into the future as well as its ability to meet client needs? This paper and presentation will outline and explore the strategies and practical tools needed to be successful as holistic client based centres and practices.
Strategic planning is critical to identify ing existing client needs and establishing a process br revising course and curriculum material as technology and client demographics change. The ability to take one storage container of documents and translate them into alternate Ibrmat when required as well as alternate technology documents when required is an essential piece of success. Embracing existing and emergent technology to provide an innovative leadership role in adaptive technology training is another state of critical mass. How do we begin to create a process for our centres and practices that will embrace these "holistic" concepts yet provide us with a working infrastructure?
There are several elements to be considered in the strategic planning phases of a practice or centre
* All members of the centre or practice should be included in
all phases of planning and implementation
* Assessors should include trainers in their assessment process
* Trainers should include assessors in their development of training material and beta testing it
* Standards and guidelines for the development aM creation of material should be established and adhered to
* Standards and guidelines for document structure should be established and adhered to
* Standards and guidelines for trainers should be established and adhered to
* Who are your clients?
* Where do they live?
* How are you going to deliver program s today, tomorrow or five years from
* Are you embracing emergent technology or ignoring it?
Trainers and teachers working with adaptive technology are encouraged to define centre or practice standards for documents. Rich Text Format creates simple visual fonrmtting while allowing for the production of documents in alternate format such as Braille and large print - or HTML format. Everyone in the centre or practice should be creating documents using the same template and process. The documents should be stored on a server or transbr area so that all staff have access to them. They can all be backed up on a CD once a month mid trainers can take them with them on training sessions. T his means that additional CD's with customized modules of information can be left with clients for future use.
Think of your course as a big container with several other containers stacked neatly inside. The "Top Down" structure is as follows:
* Course - the goals the Client and Trainer have established
that are realistically achievable within the specified training
* Modules - isolating the specific item s the Client wants to achieve so that you can begin organizing content and m aterial
* Lessons - break down the modules into specific short, manageable pieces of instruction and inform ation
* Sections -if a lesson has one or m ore tasks that can be broken down you would then have sections w ithin lessons
For each course, module, lesson, or section, you need to create a Lesson Plan. This Lesson Plan identifies everything you need to teach. A good way to write Lesson Plans is to think that if you are unable to teach this, som cone else should be able to look at your lesson plan or doctunentation for the course, module, lesson or section, and go into the classroom and teach it as you would. At the course or workshop level of this process you should also use story boarding as a tool.
The Individualized Training Strategies -) or ITS (c) is a database program that will allow centres or practices to consolidate inform ation on client equipment and training solutions. The database tracks client inbnaaation, computer equipment and adaptive technology and most importantly client identified goals and how those goals were met. The ITS (c) builds in accountability for both client and trainer. Goals and methodology are clearly laid out. The ITS also differentiates between outcomes and benchmarks.
The Individualized Training Strategies (c) database has been designed to be used as a stand-alone tool in a centre or practice; or to be integrated into an IEP (Individualized Education Program) database for schools, colleges and universities. The flexibility also allows 1br integration into corporate database structures related to training.
Now that your centre or practice has a foundation of professionals, course and curriculum material and a vision of the future, how do you expand onto the Internet?
Is there a market for your courses if they are offered online? Obviously you can't have an Introduction to JAWS course for people who depend on a screen reader and who have just received their equipment; but you could have an Introduction to JAWS course for people who are not blind and who are trainers, teachers or parents. You could have an Introduction to Pow erPoint for anyone because learning this application would be based on a working knowledge of how JAWS works. PowerPoint is a more "advanced" application.
Identify your target market. You are going to charge for these courses and a "JIT or Just in Time" or "jump and junk" method of putting material on the Internet serves no one well. How are you going to accomplish online program delivery'? Is it going to be a hybrid course, totally distance course, is it going to be offered directly from a web site, directly from a web site with a password, or through courseware?
Hybrid courses have some on-site component to them. Students may meet for a one day workshop at the beginning to get acquainted w ith the course outline and expectations. They may also meet for one last class to do a kind of de-briefing or to hand in assignments. Some hybrid courses of fourteen weeks meet on site every bur weeks with classes or material being delivered online in the interim.
Distance courses are Offered from a strictly off-site perspective. Students never see each other unless they make these arrangements out of class. All material and interaction is done through the corn puter. You may not even hear a human voice for the duration of the course or workshop.
A third model of program delivery is through courseware. Using our container analogy, courseware is an Internet based application that puts all of the material and administration related to your course or workshop in a password protected environment. No one but your students and you can access the material and tools. The two popular courseware applications are Blackboard and WebCT. Blackboard and WebCT are ADA/508 compliant. The URL for Blackboard is http://www.blackboard.com and the URL for WebCT is http://www.webct.com. Blackboard has a demonstration area where you can try out your course material and the product to see if it is what you are looking for. WebCT used to have this as a feature directly from their web site but now you need to contact your area sales representative to set this up.
Ensure that your material is as ADA/508 compliant as it can be. Remember that usability IS accessibility. It is unreasonable to think that if you are targeting a demographic of 25 to 35 year olds, that none of them will have disabilities and that they all will be visual learners.
Content does not have to be "just text" and should be varied to improve the learner's experience of your material. Use a sound file to explain some concepts. This brings a human quality to the computer mediated learning process and provides material for auditory learners. Use streamed video with captioning and description. Bring guest speakers into the bulletin board to talk about using the technology in practical ways. Use reflection as a tool for students to demonstrate personal growth and progress as well as teclnical growth. The lntemet is not the teacher, you are the teacher and you still have to reach the student and stir their imagination and creativity - even in learning screen reader concepts!
As with an on-site model of program delivery, you may need to adjust material and style as you go through a course or workshop. Clients needs come first and if they are not tmderstanding material, you may need to modify it on the fly. On the other hand, if they wuat more, you can add material to meet their needs.
By incorporating strategic planning, trainer certification, document standardization, modular design, storyboarding online program delivery and using emergent technology to create course and curriculum material that is as accessible as possible, you embrace and Iive a holistic approach to adtptive technology training. This in turn broadens the horizons of y our centre and practice ensuring longevity, creativity and innovation in m eeting the needs of a changing client demographic.
Accessible Web Design, University of Iowa,
BCAB [British Computer Association for the Blind] Training
Home Page http://www.bcab.org, uk/
Karlen Communications, Moving Training from the Classroom to
the Virtual Village [2001: A Technology Odyssey, AFB/AER August
2001 ] and Client Based Adaptive Technology Training: A
Practitioner's ToolKit [CSUN 2000]
Open College, Continuing Education, Ryerson University
RN IB - Training http://www.mib.org.uk/teclmology/factsheets/training.htm
RNIB - BCAB Trainer Certification Scheme [New Beacon,
The Distance Learning Design Center, Instructional
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