Blind students new to computers feel uncertain and overwhelmed. Older students may have no idea how to access the Internet while other students use their cell phones proficiently and feel comfortable in that environment.
In both cases, it’s important to place expectations for each lesson. Outline what it is you want them to take from the lesson and reinforce the skills you feel are important.
Include a practical skill that students can practice between classes. Reading a document, organizing their documents, writing in Microsoft Word or WordPad. Give them something to do that captures their attention and makes them want to learn.
It’s a challenge to bridge the gap between making a class enjoyable and placing expectations but humor can relax and encourage a student to experiment and learn.
In my experience, fear is the biggest impediment students face. They are seated in front of a $1000 laptop and are terrified they will blow it up with one keystroke. Reassurance is key to helping students overcome this hurdle. When exploring the JAWS Startup Wizard, the Start Menu, and other elements that can cause no harm, reinforce this. They may not outwardly exhibit their trepidation but your reassurance will put them at ease and encourage exploration.
After each lesson, I recommend including a document students can take home with the skills they are expected to know at the next lesson. In the beginning, include skills they’ll use on a daily basis. As they fulfill the smaller goals, you can build to more complex expectations.
By creating a relaxing learning environment while placing expectations that the student learn the required skills, you set the groundwork for a successful outcome. Students understand they must use their computer between classes and have a definitive list of what they must learn. Place expectations from day one and the playing field is set. Students are placed on the path to success.