Thursday, December 6, 2012

Spirit of Partnership in Module Development

For many, December is a month of anticipation and giving.  It is a month full of preparation, the culmination of the work within a year and the sense that the New Year will soon begin.  Since NCDB was asked to create online, open-access modules that support the preparation and training of interveners, many partners in the Deaf-Blind Network have engaged with us to advise, co-create, and review the learning tools that are being developed.

In September, NCDB hosted several calls with members of the network to share and engage with the community in this important work. The discussions of the shared hopes for designing an open-access tool and the recognition that such tools should be used with integrity have helped shape our activities.

In October, nineteen representatives from our network, including parent leaders, university personnel preparation representatives, and state deaf-blind projects were invited to identify and prioritize the themes for the first modules under development.  Each person was invited because of rich experience in creating intervener preparation and training materials. At this meeting, a path was formed for building the first modules, developing practical learning scenarios, and aligning the modules with the CEC’s Knowledge and Skill Set for Paraeducators Who Are Interveners for Individuals with Deaf-blindness.

In November, twenty nine individuals participated in a module writing retreat to begin weaving together the videos, readings, and learning activities into compact, cogent learning modules that form the first four chapters in a larger narrative.  If you listen closely, you may even hear the module teams collaborating, sharing files, editing video and buzzing in the Adobe meeting rooms to complete the beta versions that will be tested in early February.

In keeping with the season of anticipation, many are wondering what the modules will contain. The themes which were born through the advisory committee work include:
  • ·         An overview of deaf-blindness and instructional strategies
  • ·         The sensory systems- eyes, ears, and brain
  • ·         The role of the intervener in the educational system
  • ·         Self-image and the importance of relationships
As exciting as the modular content may be, many have found that the true gifts of this process have come from the willingness to share the network’s best thinking, resources, and efforts to create a tool that may be shared by many.  Trying to build the “perfect tool” has been tempered by a sense of humor, the limitations of technology, and a desire to see the first modules come to fruition during this cycle of funding.

In one moment when the module teams were feeling particularly daunted by the task, Robbie Blaha, a module leader shared the lyrics of a Leonard Cohen song:

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in”

It is in that spirit that the module team process moves forward, readying for a field test of the beta versions of the modules in February and March that will shed more light on the practicality and usefulness of this community set of tools- a gift that reflects the efforts of a diverse community to share the best of what it knows- cracks and all.

Amy Parker - NCDB

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