Category Archives: Movie Review

A.T.TIPScast Episode #150: A.T. Movie Review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

Chris as a Jedi with young Yoda in the background

Texthelp advertisement

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning Read&Write software solutions. Click on the banner above to learn about the amazing Read&Write products.

Episode Overview –

Episode #150 is a review of the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens from an educational perspective.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #477: The National Education Plan of 2016

Upcoming Live Presentations

ISAAC Conference in Toronto, Canada – August 2016

AAC Practitioners in the 21st Century: Leveraging Our Efforts through Social Media and Digital Technologies (with Carole Zangari)

Contact Information

attipscast@gmail.com
Register as a fan of the show to receive
e-mail alerts for new episodes

subscribe in itunes button

Advertisements

A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #119: Assistive Technology Movie Review – Man of Steel

A picture for Chris wearing black-framed glasses pulling open a white shirt to reveal a super hero logo resembling the A.T.TIPSCAST log on it

Episode Overview-

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning literacy solution Read&Write GOLD. To learn about Read&Write Gold and Texthelp’s suite of web apps click on the banner below!

Texthelp Advertisement

Use promotion code ATTIPS13SAVE10 to get 10% off online orders of Read&Write GOLD!

Cannot be combined with other offers. Offer expires July 31, 2013.

Episode #119 features a review, including spoilers (you have been warned), of the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, and how it relates to contemporary assistive technology and educational practices.

Special thanks to Carrie Baughcum from the blog, Hold On To Your Chair, for creating the super picture at the top of the blog post!

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #360 – http://bit.ly/lcpsatdiigolearningstyles – List of resources pertaining to student Learning Style Inventories/Profiles/Assessments.

A.T.TIP #361 – http://bit.ly/studentprofilesurveyingoogledocs – One example of a student learning style inventory/profile/assessment.

A.T.TIP #362 – Tools Checklist

A.T.TIP #363 – Use gestures or symbols and limit auditory input when calming a student.

Upcoming Presentations –

300lbs of Brain Power (Keynote) with Mark Nichols & Chris Bugaj. July 19th, 2013 at Bridging The Gap.

Can You Hear Me Now? Integrating Audio in the Classroom with Melissa Bugaj & Chris Bugaj. July 19th, 2013 at Bridging The Gap.

Contact Information-

Follow me on Twitter

Send an e-mail to attipscast@gmail.com

Register as a fan of the show to receive e-mail alerts for new episodes

Check out my bio at About.me

A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #100: Movie Review Extravaganza

Collage of all four images of previous A.T.TIPSCAST Movie Review images

Episode Overview-

Episode #100 of the A.T.TIPSCAST features an audio version of all of the Assistive Technology Movie Reviews done so far, previously only available as blog-only posts. These include all of the following:

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Moneyball

The Hunger Games

The Avengers

This episode also features a bumper from Dr. Joy Zabala, the director of technical assistance at the Center for Applied Special Technologies and the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials who invites you to check out all the resources at http://aim.cast.org and let’s you know you are listening to the A.T.TIPSCAST!

A.T.TIPS in this Episode-

A.T.TIP 287 – Random.org – Random Number Generator

Piano & Laylee Giveaway Winner-

Amy Braddock!

amysassistivetech.blogspot.com

Upcoming Presentations

REGISTER NOW!

Mission Possible: Proliferating a Culture of Universal Design for Learning with Beth Poss & Chris Bugaj. January 29th & 30th, 2013 at the Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Contact Information-

About.me/chrisbugaj

Twitter.com/attipscast

attipscast@gmail.com

Register as a fan of the show to receive e-mail alerts for new episodes

Credits-

This episode features less than 30 second clips of music from all of the following artists:

1. U2- Mission Impossible Theme

2. The Imagination Movers – Everybody’s Game

3. Soundgarden – Live to Rise

Assistive Technology Movie Review: The Avengers

I’m a super hero geek and proud of it. I didn’t just grow up reading comics. I played games about super heroes, watched super hero cartoons, created robust fight sequences and narratives (often in that order) with super hero action figures, and pretended I was the one taking down the bad guys.

It was “Super” fun!

Today, I get to relive those adventures with my two little ones by fighting giant robots, thwarting the plans of treacherous villains, and protecting the lives of the innocent baby dolls scattered around the room.

Picture of Chris and his kids dressed like generic super heroes (masks and capes)

This is “Super” fun!

Over the past few years, the folks at Marvel have been releasing movies starring some of their most popular super heroes.  Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, and Thor have each had their own summer blockbuster movie (Iron Man actually had two).  These movies set the stage for the ultimate super hero team up, bringing all of them together in The Avengers.

Without even asking me about it, my wife made babysitter arrangements and pre-purchased the opening night tickets. She had watched all these movies with me, loving the Iron Man movies the most. She wasn’t nearly as excited as me to see The Avengers but when I told her it was directed by Joss Whedon, creator of her favorite show of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she was all in.

As you can probably guess, on the night of the big event, I found myself grinning from ear to ear, mesmerized for over two hours.  Despite the fact that I was ten years old again, I couldn’t help but draw some parallels between Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and contemporary practices in the world of education and assistive technology.

SPOILERS FOLLOW
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

The Tesseract as Curiosity and Engagement-
The movie starts with an action packed sequence of events where the villain of the movie, Loki, steals the Tesseract; a powerful energy source with the potential for creating sustainably clean energy for the planet. Loki plans to use the Tesseract to create a portal into space through which he can bring an invading alien army.

It comes to light during the movie that Loki has not been the only power looking to use the weapons for less than peaceful purposes. S.H.I.E.L.D. (a government agency) works to exploit the power of the Tesseract to create its own set of unique weaponry which can be used to keep the peace. Good intentions to be sure, but by keeping this fact a secret they cast a nefarious shadow of doubt over the entire organization.

The Tesseract is unharnessed energy, not unlike the enthusiasm of students entering school. Have you seen the overflowing brightness behind a kindergartener’s eyes before the first day? It is brimming with hope, eagerness, curiosity and a desire to learn. The raw energy is palpable. Students come to school, en masse, already engaged. Therefore, keeping them interested in school should be as easy as saying some incredibly cool catch phrase. Unfortunately, somehow, it’s not.

Educators, throughout the entire span of students’ educational careers, have the massive responsibility of helping students continue to feel engaged in their learning.  It is not the fault of the Tesseract that people are trying to exploit it. Likewise, it is never the students’ fault if and when they become disengaged with learning.

Students DO NOT CHOOSE to be bored.

The power of the Tesseract is like that of curiosity in students. Curiosity can be kept flowing through students by providing them with options about how they’d best like to learn. Curiosity will continue to drive student’s engagement when they get to make choices about how they’d best like to learn.

For now, the curriculum is set, static, and determined, but the ways for students to experience that content is changing, dynamic, and flexible. By providing students with options, you give them freedom, much like an Avenger keeping the world safe from a race of invading aliens. If educators approach each lesson plan by saying, “What’s the best way I can engage each learner?” and then successfully execute those lessons, they will have taken a heroic first step.

A Group of Individuals Does Not a Team Make
The Avengers brings together a group of individuals, each with his or her own set of unique traits and abilities which add something to the whole. Each character has a skill set that makes them a valuable asset and which makes them vital to the success of the mission. When an Individualized Education Program is being developed, individuals from different disciplines and perspectives come together for a common purpose. Each individual member brings his or her own set of talents to the table to formulate a plan which outlines the instructional needs of a student. However, a group of individuals working toward the same cause does not necessarily make it a team.

Throughout the course of the movie, the Avengers learn that individual feats of strength and demonstrations of skill might be impressive (and fun to watch) but don’t necessarily equate to getting the job done. It isn’t until the end of the movie, setting egos aside and learning to work together, do the Avengers truly form a team. Likewise, when developing and implementing an Individualized Education Program, the team should work synergistically, not separately. It is not the job of the speech therapist to work on goals related to communication, the job of the occupational therapist to work on fine motor goals, the job of the physical therapist to work on gross motor goals, the job of the parent to work on things at home, the job of the general and special education teachers to work on academic goals, or the job of the administrator to ensure that everything gets done. Rather, it’s the job of everyone, to work on every aspect of every goal, collaboratively. When this happens, the individual skills of professionals blur into something cohesive, a true team forms and the student is the one who ultimately wins.

Character Before Technology
Each hero in the Avengers utilizes a weapon that matches their individual set of skills. Captain America uses his iconic shield. Iron Man is outfitted with a suit of armor. Thor wields Mjolinir, a mighty hammer. Hawkeye shoots a bow. Black Widow uses acrobatics and firearms. And the Hulk is a weapon all unto himself.

In this movie, just like in all of the other Marvel movies, the focus is on the character, not the tools they use. The weapons support the characters, not the other way around. In this way, the weapons used by the heroes are similar to the process of selecting a device or strategy for a student.

When Steve Rogers was becoming Captain America, the plot wasn’t the discovery of some shield made of Vibranium and how someone could use it. Rather, it was about a man who stays true to himself while facing incredible circumstances. In Iron Man, the story isn’t about a man who sets out to develop an invincible suit of armor but rather, creates one out of necessity. Thor’s hammer serves as a symbol for doing what is right, but the story of Thor centers around humility.  Bruce Banner’s main conflict comes from an internal struggling for control not about the ramification of experimenting with gamma radiation. In truth, what gets to the core of all of these characters has nothing to do with the tools they use, but rather, who they are as people.

Device selection happens in much the same way. When selecting an intervention for a student or class, the question should be centered around who the student is and what they needed to accomplish, rather than the idea of having a tool and wondering who could use it. For Marvel, it’s not “We have this shield, suit of armor, mystical hammer, gamma radiation, bow, etc. We should give them to someone”. Instead, it’s “There’s this complex character who faces intense problems. What type of tools should we provide this person to help solve these problems?” For selecting specific assistive technology for students, it shouldn’t be “Look at this shiny cool tool, who should use?” Instead, it should be “This student (or groups of students) has a problem. Which tool(s) can this student (or these students) use to help address that problem?” When devices are selected based on the character of the student, rather than the other way around, one can be sure that the student is getting what is needed.

Sacrifices –
Agent Coulson has been described as the glue that holds the various Marvel movies together and helps to maintain continuity. The character makes an appearance in many of the other Marvel movies. He is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who helps to bring the individuals together because he believes in the idea of forming a cogent team of Superheroes. Agent Coulson makes the ultimate sacrifice to provide the final catalyst for driving the group to work together as a team.

Many educators do this too. Many live for their students, providing countless hours way beyond the limits of the typical work day to provide the very best service they can. They believe they are making a difference, investing in the future, and truly impacting the lives of students in a positive way. Coulson died because he believed in the Avengers. Educators sacrifice money, resources, and (most importantly) time to the idea that students, no matter their ability, can and will learn.

Also like the Avengers, educators perform these selfless tasks with mixed levels of support. At the end of the movie, the director makes the point to show how the public reacts differently to the knowledge that heroes exist. Some embrace the heroes, thanking them diligently. Others question their true intentions. Some even outright blame the heroes for the invasion. Educators, despite their passion and sacrifices, receive this same mixed response from the public at large, however, educators shouldn’t be chastised or scorned. Rather, they should be respected and revered for being the heroes they are.

Fun
Overall, the Avengers is a fun, action-packed thrill ride that brings a helicarrier-load of laughs and smiles. Engaging characters drive a compelling plot all supported by the backdrop of a fascinating universe. Working in the field of education is much the same. Teaching, and supporting students, is one of the most enriching and rewarding professions. It is filled with memorable, meaningful, jaw-dropping moments that leave an impression, move you to tears, and can make you feel like you’re the hero you always wanted to be.

Chris's face superimposed over the Avenger's faces

The Avengers Movie Poster

Assistive Technology Movie Review – The Hunger Games

My wife doesn’t read books. She devours them. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was no exception. I, however, find it difficult to read a book during the school year. My literature consumption primarily takes place in the form of audiobooks or podcasts during my commute.  That said, when my wife circled last Friday on the calendar and said, “We’re going to see The Hunger Games” I felt the urge to read the book before seeing the movie.

As luck would have it, my in-laws came to visit the weekend prior to the movie coming out. In an effort to give them some alone time with their grandkids, I barricaded myself in our bedroom and went to town on the novel.

I knocked it out in two days; a record for me.

I was eager to experience the phenomenon in the same way as my wife so I could have something intelligent to say when the inevitable discussions comparing the film adaptation to the literary work occurred.

Once again I couldn’t help but see correlations  throughout the story to the implementation of technology following a Universal Design for Learning framework.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

The story, which is mostly the same between the book and the film, is, at its core, one of rebellion, defiance, and self discovery. It involves 24 children between the ages of 12 and 18 placed within a large, outdoor arena to fight to the death for the purposes of entertaining the masses.  This annual death match, known as The Hunger Games, was established to keep the working class in line as a reminder of the power of the ruling class.  The contestants in this gladiatorial bloodbath are known as “tributes.”

The tributes in the story have a diverse set of backgrounds, skills, and traits, making each one unique and special in some way. My brain immediately equated the tributes to students within a classroom, struggling to survive through the arena of school, trying to win at education, competing with one another for acceptance into college or for scholarships. Just like in the story, despite the cut-throat competition, alliances and friendships are formed. In both the story and within schools, individuals realize that collaboration and teamwork prove more successful than standing alone.

If the tributes in the arena represent students, then the supplies and weapons used to kill opponents would represent the technology necessary to complete a task. The tributes make decisive choices about what tools they need to accomplish their objectives of staying alive and killing others. Likewise, students within an environment following the principles of Universal Design for Learning utilize an array of tools to accomplish their mission of learning the content and achieving educational goals. In the arena, the wrong set of tools could equal pain, suffering, or even death while the correct set of tools matched to an individual’s skills could prove most effective. In school, choosing the wrong set of tools could equal the loss of precious time but the right set of tools, matched to an individual’s abilities, could make a significant impact in student performance.

Blazing hot days, freezing cold nights, swarms of deadly insects, wild mutated animals, and poisonous vegetation are just a few of the hazards prevalent throughout the arena. These conditions are controlled by the gamekeepers in order to provide the maximum entertainment value for the audience.  Like in the arena, the school environment itself can be manipulated to shape the challenge facing a student.  Educators should engineer environments with the educational goals of students in mind. For instance, if a student has a language goal of making requests then placing desired objects out of reach provides the student with an opportunity to communicate. Likewise, if a student is physically having difficulty accessing something within his environment, like a computer or interactive whiteboard, the educator must manipulate the environment to provide access.  Either way, the educator molds the environment in a manner conducive to the needs of every learner.

The protagonist of the story is a character named Katniss, a 16 year old girl thrust into the midst of the carnage. She is provided a mentor named Haymitch who has the primary task of preparing her for the battle royale. During the actual event, Haymitch is also responsible for garnering “sponsors” for Katniss who will fork up cash to provide additional necessary tools not already in the environment.

In this way, Haymitch works like an assistive technology trainer guiding students in ways to successfully utilize the technology already present within the environment. Likewise, when that technology proves too restrictive or limiting, it is up to the assistive technology trainer to provide additional possibilities for the student. Haymitch goes to sponsors asking for additional supplies while an assistive technology trainer goes to vendors looking for tools that might meet the needs of students.

When Haymitch obtains a sponsor who provides supplies, he sends it to Katniss via parachute with a note attached with advice on how to best use it.  In similar fashion, when assistive technology trainers acquire a new device to help students they provide training and tutorials.

In the end, Katniss teaches the establishment of the ruling class a lesson that despite attempting to control the chaos, something unpredictable can occur to upset the rhythm of the status quo.  Educators attempting to provide and implement a variety of technology options to students should recognize this very same fact. A universally designed classroom strives to provide an atmosphere of controlled chaos and insulated entropy.  Students provided with a multitude of choices about tools and activities they wish to use to best demonstrate their knowledge or which best engages them in the learning process might get messy. Almost always, something can go wrong. The unexpected will occur.  Unlike the Gamekeepers in The Hunger Games, educators should expect this. Even more so, they should embrace it.

Providing a universally designed environment, at times, might feel like a difficult task, but remember no one is alone.  Anyone can call out to others, like the song of a Mockingjay, to ask for help. Perhaps a model of a peer is all that is needed for the spark to begin Catching Fire within a colleague. Educators across districts (way more than the 12 outlined in the story) are working toward accomplishing similar goals. Sharing accomplishments and demonstrating successes is the best way to spread the culture of universal design for learning.

As you move forward, continuing on your own mission to provide options for students, I only have these words of encouragement: May the odds be ever in your favor.

Profiles of characters from The Hunger Games with an embedded picture of Chris as one of the characters

 

Assistive Technology Movie Review: Moneyball

As soon as I saw the trailer for Moneyball I added it to the Netflix queue. I didn’t feel compelled to see this movie in the theater because a) I’m not a big fan of baseball and b) I tend to spend theater dollars on movies laden with impressive special effects to maximize the big screen experience.  I was, however, interested in learning how mathematics and statistics could be applied in an formulaic approach to change how people think. When it was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar I bumped it up in the queue.

Like in the last blog post about a movie, I wasn’t expecting to find correlations between a mainstream film and contemporary educational philosophies like Universal Design for Learning.  My apologizes to my wife for the frequent pausing of the DVD to take notes. I couldn’t help it. Ideas just kept pop flying into my head.

The movie, based on a true story, stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, a former baseball player turned general manager for the Oakland Athletics. The movie opens at the end of a successful season for the Athletics. Instead of celebrating however, Pitt finds that his star players have left to take higher paid contracts on other teams. Faced with replacing these high profile names within a limited budget and frustrated with a staff using traditional scouting methods, Pitt begins looking for a different approach to fill the missing roster spots.

The scouts, in my view, echo the mindset shared by some educators that “this is the way we’ve always done it and it has worked out fine so far.”  To some extent, this might be true. For sure, I grew up filling out an exorbitant amount of worksheets and I feel like I received a decent education. But, could it have been done differently? Could my educational experience been even more meaningful? I think so. More importantly, does this traditional approach of providing worksheets to practice a concept work for everyone? I think not.

The movie demonstrates, in glaring fashion, that change is difficult.  People who have been doing something the same way for years, no matter the profession, resist change. Pitt’s character proposes a shift away from tradition and it meets with opposition.

Moving education away from a continuous flow of worksheets following a rigid, one size fits all philosophy into a new world where students are provided with choices as to how best they’d like to engage in their own learning would yield better results.

On a trip to negotiate with the Cleveland Indians Pitt meets a Yale grad, played by Jonah Hill, who pitches a radical new theory of player evaluation. Hill suggests that a wide range of individual variables can each be given numerical values and a quotient can be calculated from these numbers.  This quotient can then be used to get the most productive players for the money available.  The final quotient they use to evaluate a player’s value, the one of paramount importance to Pitt and Hill’s characters, is tendency to get on base.

For years I’ve thought that a merit-based system of pay would be a benefit to education. The theory is simple. Pay teachers based on performance. The most poignant argument against a merit-based system is how to make it equitable based on all the variables present in a classroom. Once I tried to make a list of all the variables that would need to be considered if a merit-based system were to exist. The list was as big as the Green Monster at Fenway Park.

Hill’s character in the movie quantified each relevant variable and generated a formula which he used to boil it down into one number. To me, if this exists for all the relevant variables present on the baseball field, then this same approach could be applied to evaluate, and thus pay, teachers according to a quantified value. The approach, as applied to baseball, is called sabermetrics. It would an interesting project for a class of individuals studying statistics to try to duplicate these efforts applying them to contemporary classroom variables.  The result might just produce an equitable system for paying educators based on productivity rather than solely on a traditional step approach.

Once Pitt’s character implemented the new approach I leaned over to my wife and said, “If this works right off the bat (pardon the pun) it is going to be a really short movie”. Predictably, the new approach didn’t work right away and the nay-sayers felt justified in their negative prognostications. In the movie, things go awry for Pitt and Hill but they stick to their failing approach, dedicated to see it through to the end.

To me, teachers implementing different or varied technologies in their classrooms to meet the needs of the different and varied learners in their classrooms should understand that sometimes things don’t work the right way, right away. Chaos might ensue. Like Pitt and Hill’s characters, stick to it. One loss on the baseball field doesn’t mean the entire season is a wash.  Likewise, one lesson where the technology didn’t work correctly or where students got confused doesn’t mean the approach isn’t solid. If you make an error, letting the proverbial ball roll between your legs, that’s okay. Brush off the dust and use it as motivation to hit a home run at your next “at bat”.

Furthermore, in some instances technology might work to help a student the instant it is put in place. However, in most cases, it usually takes time to successfully implement a technology tool. Consider the examples of implementing word prediction for a student with spelling difficulties or an augmentative communication device for a student who has never used one before. Although these tools can be powerful and life-altering when used overtime, it usually takes some time for a person to learn to use these tools effectively. It typically takes patience, practice, training and time for a student to truly integrate these tools to make a difference in their lives. Therefore, like Pitt and Hill’s characters, stick to it. If the decision to place a device was founded on solid evidence, then it is likely to work. Don’t give up. Chances are, you won’t strike out.l

Faced with a doomed team at the bottom of the standings, the duo  move out of their introverted comfort zones to enact the help of the players. Once the players are educated about the philosophy and brought on board as partners in the approach , positive results begin to occur. The Athletics, remarkably, begin to win against teams that can afford much higher paid players. In this same way, students should be made aware of the teacher’s educational philosophy and be accepted as cohorts in the approach.  Like the players on the team, students will work to improve (and help each other to improve) if they have a shared vision, outlook, or campaign to get behind. Set and share an obtainable and collaborative classroom goal. Authentically involve the students in as many decisions as possible in an attempt to reach that goal. Refer to it and reflect on it together so no one starts striking out on bad pitches.

Likewise, this same approach of establishing and sharing a common goal works for any group or people working together. Grade levels teams, assistive technology teams, school wide and system wide faculties, or any group of people working to achieve a common goal will produce better results if everyone has taken ownership of that goal.

In baseball, the general manager doesn’t necessarily need to fix a flaw in a batter’s swing, he just needs to create the environment in which the player himself can grow to make adjustments. In this same way, a teacher does not need to dictate solutions to solve every problem students encounter, but rather, provide the proper guidance and support to let the students develop their own solutions.

In the end, of course, Pitt, Hill, and the Athletics go on to prove that their system works. The movie claims that professional baseball, steeped in tradition and history, changed forever after that season.  In the following years every team changed to adopt Pitt’s new statistical approach to player evaluation and acquisition.  The profession, and the economy surrounding it, was forever altered largely due to the ideas and efforts of two men.

Educators can have that same impact on their chosen profession. Whether looking at education globally or at each of its subsequent parts (like assistive technology), long standing practices should be challenged, turned over, and re-examined to see if they are truly effective. We might find that embracing new approaches, and showing the determination to stick to these approaches, could result in an effective grand slam for education as a whole.

cropped photo of Brad Pitt in the movie poster for MoneyballPicture of Chris posing like Brad Pitt in the poster for the movie Moneyball

 

Assistive Technology Movie Review – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Despite having seen all the previous Mission Impossible movies, when I saw the preview for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol I thought, “Ick.” Then, when I heard from a few Twitter friends how much they enjoyed it, saw some additional television spots playing that catchy theme music, and noticed that it was directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, The Iron Giant, etc.) I changed my mind. Still, I was thinking I’d add it to the Netflix queue and get around to seeing it a year or two from now.

Over the winter break my in-laws came into town giving my wife and I an opportunity to have a day out together. We did some shopping, grabbed a bite to eat, and went to see Mission Impossible for the heck of it. As it turns out, we both really enjoyed it.

What I found most interesting about the movie were the parallels in the story to building and maintaining an assistive technology team. Without providing any spoilers, the movie centers around a small team of professionals who use technology to overcome problem after problem in order to achieve their objectives.  The team utilizes their different talents to assess each situation by analyzing their environment and then implementing technology to address the issues.

To me, this is exactly how a team of educators considers assistive technology for a student. The team analyzes the situation, determines what goals need to be met, and then decide what tools are necessary to address those goals.

Approximately half way through the movie the team of good guys realize that they will not be able to acquire any more resources. They are forced to find solutions using only what they have available to them. When implementing technology for a student, educators should first look to what they already have in their environment. Technology that is present and available to every student is always the best place to start and typically these tools are considered the least restrictive solutions. Furthermore, in the current fiscal environment of shrinking budgets, using what’s freely available first, before looking for external solutions that cost money, helps to keep funds available for when a student absolutely needs something to be purchased.

As the events of the plot unfold, the team finds that technology fails them…over and over again. As the technology fails, the team is forced to improvise to continue on their mission.  Unfortunately, this holds true in the world of education as well. Technology breaks down and back-up plans needs to be implemented so students aren’t left floundering without the supports they need to help them achieve their goals.  When the technology goes down, it’s up to the educational team to review, revise, and react, often in innovative ways, to make sure students succeed.

At the end, it’s no surprise, that Tom Cruise’s team is victorious. As team leader he gives a short speech explaining how proud he is of the team for their resiliency, collaboration, and never-give-up attitude. Even if you think the mission in front of you is impossible, whether it be stopping a terrorist from enacting his nefarious plot or assisting a student in achieving his or her educational goals, the edict is the same- failure is not an option.

Providing necessary technology to help students achieve their educational goals is your mission, and if you’re a good educational team, your only choice is to accept it.

Tom Cruise in hoody from MI4Chris as Tom Cruise in MI4