Tech Club Review

The Chippewa Valley Aphasia Group offered a Tech Club during the month of May.

Using a computer isn’t easy for people with aphasia. Operation of the computer and navigation of the internet present many challenges. What is worse, according to our club members, is that the internet is overwhelming. When faced with busy websites, pop-up ads, mystery links and multiple search choices, aphasia group members say they often quit trying to use the internet.

Tech Club members got together to enjoy some time exploring new technology.

How can computers and the internet be enjoyable? Well first of all, each Tech Club member works with a Tech coach. It may sound strange, but conversation is the most important activity of Tech Club. Tech coaches are there to listen, ask questions, demonstrate what they know about technology and participate in internet topic exploration. Tech Club has only three ground rules for these working teams: Go Slow. Be Flexible. Have conversations together. Club leaders select a topic for exploration. Team members work to learn about the topic and make their own choices about what is important to them about that topic. Secondly, this month Tech Club used the iPad for our project work. Imagine using a computer that doesn’t need a mouse! Imagine typing right on the screen! Imagine drawing on the screen with your finger! Imagine making pictures bigger with just a movement of your fingers!

Now, if you can believe it, Tech Club coaches did not hold an hour long class on “how to make the iPad work”. Tech Club teams (coaches and members) learned about operation and navigation of the device as they worked on their projects. Tech Club teams “played” with the device and together figured out how to use the iPad to get to the topic at hand. They had conversations about how the iPad worked and what the best steps were to get to what they needed.

We selected three projects for this month: videos, iPad applications and Facebook. We are only going to report on our video search project. More and more information is being presented in video format. Today, people tell stories, give advice and provide examples of “how to” information by video on the web. We began our session looking at a story from author Mike Perry. Each team learned how to search for one of his online stories and then they discussed ideas from that story. Teams also discussed what they learned about using the iPad to search this portion of the internet. We then asked Tech Club teams to search for “things from Wisconsin” on YouTube. For example: Nature in Wisconsin, Cooking in Wisconsin and Biking in Wisconsin.

Tech Club members learned how to tap, scroll, pinch, expand and type on the iPad. After brief orientation, these skills were refined as they engaged in web exploration. Tech team members searched for topics and watched videos. The Tech teams said the most enjoyable part of Tech Club was searching for topics that they selected. They chose to search for choir music, gardening and handyman “how to” videos. Coaches and Club members learned about each other and enjoyed the teamwork.

Tech Club members report that video searches were more comfortable with some extra planning:

  • Talking over the topics with Tech coaches was useful.
  • Writing down key words to search for made searches easy.
  • Writing down new ideas that arise from watching selected videos lead to more effective searches
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