Talking Blogs Are Here

You’ll probably notice a Listen Now button on my blog, and a widget in the sidebar that allows you to subscribe to my podcast. It works in blogger..but I’ll have to find out how to get it on this new WordPress blog.

I’ve been getting ready to present at the AT4ALL
in Milton next week and my presentation will be about literacy tools for the 21st century, thinking specifically of our students with special needs. If you are there, the session will hopefully go something like this:

This session shows parents and educators the new kinds of literacies with which our students need to develop fluency in order to develop 21st century skills. Web 2.0 tools like Google for Educators, blogs, wikis, rss, social networking, global projects, diigo and other online tools for literacy will enhance the education of our students with special needs, while allowing them to access collaborative tools that will be so important as they continue their education and move on to the workforce. This session will provide a practical look at some of the best ways teachers can motivate students and enhance their use of technology to improve their literacy.

I find this an important topic because while modalities available on the web are getting more and more diverse ensuring more and more access, it’s still a pretty text-based place. If you can’t read, it’s difficult to navigate deeply and go beyond “surfing the surface” as my co-presenter Peter Skillen, would say.

This week, while I was checking out a really good article about where to start with using cell phones on a blog called The Innovative Educator I noticed the Listen Now button and soon found out that allows you to create text-to-speech podcasts from your RSS feed to ipod, iphone, and MP3 players as well as instantly reading your content on the blog in a really decent voice!

It’s called ‘talking your content’. Very sweet! Another way to open access to those who struggle with reading, or perhaps if you have a class blog with younger students who are non-readers this will be a help for you! It’s working great so far, although it seems to take a few hours to upload the feature to new blog posts, so we’ll see how it goes as I get using it. You can see how it works immediately if you click on my older postings for now.

I’m looking forward to learning about lots of new tools to enhance access for special needs students (and ALL students) at AT4ALL…hope you see you there!