Consumer’s Guide Go Technology For Autism

7/22/09

Why a collaboration is desirable when discussing issues of technology integration with autism.

The Consumer’s Guide To Technology With Autism Project, a Zagat-style guide, will be the creation of teachers and parents who will field test, evaluate and report on their experiences using specific technology with children on the Spectrum.

It will require building a unique, project-oriented web collaboration that will benefit everyone touched by Autism.  Success requires the cooperation of schools, teachers, therapist and parents willing to use technology with their children in order to share their experiences with others. Members of this grass roots network will evaluate and report on personal experiences using technology with autism.

Why go to the trouble of building a ground-up organization?

A large network, committed to testing and evaluating technology annually, would offer invaluable feedback that would drive improvement and innovation.

Isn’t it just as good to use focus groups for feedback?

No.  While the use of expensive, time-consuming focus groups may be statistically valid, it ignores a treasure trove of information and innovation residing in the Crowd intelligence. Google books provides the following summary of  The Wisdom Of Crowds by James Surowiecki .

The Crowd collectively is smarter than any of its individuals – even the smartest. While there will always be someone smarter than the crowd in any given run, those individuals will vary from run to run, not able to consistently repeat their success.”  The Wikipedia discusses examples of cognitive intelligence</a>.

In order to harness this collective knowledge, three conditions must obtain:

  1. there must be a means of aggregating the results
  2. individual decisions must be made independently, and

3) the decisions must be unbiased, uninfluenced by an outside bias pushing the crowd in one direction.”

Surowiecki also identifies three different kinds of problems: cognition, coordination, and cooperation.  ” Crowds are best at solving cognitive problems on their own. Coordination problems require a feedback mechanism, and cooperation problems, by far the most interesting, can require an entire social structure to enforce certain norms and incentives.”

This project will address (with semantic revision) Surowiecki’s three problems of cognition, coordination, and cooperation as they pertain to our unique needs.

What kind of information would be captured?

Objective ratings, based on a standardized reporting format.

Subjective information consisting of anecdotal evidence of effectiveness, recommended populations, ease of use, suggestions for improvement, hints for other users.

Answers to specific questions posed by researchers or publishers whose technology is being used.

Won’t this effort require the cooperation of too many groups?  Why would anyone agree to participate?

This project invites everyone to assume ownership.  Certainly parents, teachers and therapists would welcome the results. Those responsible for IT budgets would like to know if they are spending resources appropriately.   Researchers, publishers and entrepreneurswould benefit both from feedback about their current products and innovative recommendations provided by a network of engaged User/Raters.  School districts could capitalize from the schoolhouse buzz. Staff development would have a focus.


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