In the next few weeks, Vivek and I will be training some of the teachers at Mathru to use the basic functions of computers. Yesterday at the end of the school day, eight teachers met us in Mathru’s computer lab for a brief introduction and discussion to help us get a better idea of what exactly they would like to learn. Most of them have very basic computer skills and can use a mouse and keyboard, but they all expressed a desire to learn how to type faster, how to use Microsoft Word, and how to send emails and use the internet.
Preparing to teach these basic skills has made me realize how I take for granted simple typing skills that allow me to make this blog post or simple navigation skills that have allowed me to conduct research via the internet. Training the teachers presents a new challenge that I have not encountered in my classes or studies at CMU. Instead of conquering a new, more difficult concept in science, for example, I am faced with the challenge of trying to forget my skills in order to understand what vocabulary and explanations would be most helpful.
Among the eight teachers who we are training five are sighted and three are blind, which presents an entirely different challenge. So much of navigating computers relies on sight and very little relies on touch and sound. With the help of a computer reading software called JAWS, Vivek and I have come up with a very loosely structured lesson plan aimed to help the teachers understand how better to use a computer.
Yesterday as Vivek and I were finishing up our first day of introductions we thought it would be a good idea to make sure the five computers in the lab had JAWS already installed. We were met with both good news and bad news. The good news was that each computer already had JAWS, the bad news was that each computer also had a myriad of viruses. Unfortunately our teacher training session for today had to be postponed, but we will resume tomorrow hopefully ready for any challenges ahead.