Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Jacques Singleton
Jacques was a special education teacher for two years in the Memphis City Schools and during this time was always interested in incorporating technology in the classroom. Jacques became a professor at the University of Memphis in 2005 and immediately began to teach a class that concentrated on teaching current and future special education teachers about the assistive technology needs of students with special needs. While teaching this class he decided to use Tapped In as a resource.
I was first introduced to Tapped In by a co-worker through a grant program that focused on using Tapped In as a learning tool at our university. The first training was somewhat intimidating and I was sure that I would not want to use this resource even though it might go perfectly with the assistive technology class I was preparing to teach. I was told that once I used the system about three times I would get to know it well. So I decided that I would give it a try. The first time I got on for about five minutes and the entire website was colorful and a bit overwhelming.
The first few times I saw people logged on and realized they were the help desk. I did not really know what questions to ask so I still did not utilize the help desk. Finally, I decided that I would try to set up two groups for my upcoming class. I attempted to muddle my way through the process until BJ asked me if I needed any assistance. I realized at this time the only way to get through this was to accept help. I expected BJ to simply answer the first question and move on to someone else. I was totally wrong. BJ walked me through the entire process.
I know BJ did not bargain for spending over an hour with me but she was patient even when I could not follow the simplest instructions. After spending this time I began to feel very comfortable with the system. I practiced several more times following the instructions that BJ gave me. When I became bogged down there was always someone at the help desk to get me through. I became so proficient before the first day of classes that I was able to incorporate it into my class and give a demonstration to the students that made it an easier transition for them.
Tapped In in the Classroom
I decided that with the class being an assistive technology class we would use Tapped In as a learning tool every other week. During a scheduled time during the week the class logged on in two groups at different times. We discussed an article that I posted each week on Tapped In that was related to the issue in assistive technology that we were covering that week.
In the beginning, many of the students were as intimidated as I was when I started. Around the third time we met in the chat room a majority of the class had mastered the procedures and the website. Throughout the semester we had very relevant conversations regarding assistive technology in the classroom. In fact, our last Tapped In session of the semester focused on the students' perspective of Tapped In. Of the 25 students in the class, 24 stated that they believed that Tapped In was very beneficial to their learning. The comments ranged from "Tapped In provided opportunities for those who felt uncomfortable talking in the classroom to express their opinions" to "it was great to get this type of learning experience from the comfort of my own home."
I am now totally comfortable using the system. I post all assignments for the class on Tapped In now. I plan to continue to incorporate this system into any class that I teach from now on. It certainly benefited all parties that were involved this semester.