Officially I started Howard Rheingold’s class “Think-Know Tools” by attending the second session of the online forum tonight. I was very excited about this opportunity to learn from the man who wrote “Smart Mobs” in 2002 and continues to be a force in thinking and learning. The small group session tonight was great with about 10 of the students attending (the rest participated in the first session the day before). We got to interact through Blackboard and learn how to navigate the different sections of the class website (wiki, forums, lexicon, blogs and mindmaps). The class will have weekly virtual sessions, although I will not be able to participate in many of them because of the time difference. But most of the real work will be done interactively yet asynchronously online. To get familiar with different elements we each volunteered to take on some role contributing to learning like “search jockey” to search out websites for ideas mentioned in the chat. I really enjoyed the session but I came away discouraged. In March I went through two surgeries for glaucoma. I thought that the healing had progressed enough to be able to handle an intensive online class. But I found that wasn’t the case. At the end of an hour and a half, I walked away from the computer almost blinded by weariness and a headache.

In a slow-paced learning environment where you can control the media, it is possible for me to take breaks and resize screens so that I can learn. But in the Blackboard live session, the chat font and the video was very small (no matter how large I sized it). And even the whiteboard began to get blurry toward the end as the topics became smaller as more were dropped onto the mindmap. My physical limitations certainly play a role in the mind map we were building on augmentation where cognition may be limited by problems with perception which could possibly be enhanced or modified by technology.

I’m hoping that I can continue with the asynchronous part of the class but the reading may also defeat me. I have had to limit reading to some extent and go to audio books whenever possible. But I think that I can contribute some unique perspectives for those with disabilities whether old ones or newly acquired regardless of the reason why.

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