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Teaching Business Software Applications

A few years ago one credit of the required 21 credits needed for graduation from high school in the state of Texas is Technology Applications. Included in this curriculum are three choices that meet the State Board of Education standards. The choices are: Computer Science (geek stuff for writing computer scripts), Multimedia Production (video editing, animation, and graphic design), and Business Computer Information Systems (business computer applications). By imposing this, schools were trying to make sure students have some computer technology skills by graduation. It is no longer a required credit for graduation. This means school districts are on their own. Some districts still have it as a “local” requirement for graduation. For us as vision teachers this may be a relief, however, this can be a problem.

One of the choices, Business Computer Information Systems (BCIS) give students a basic knowledge (exposure) to spreadsheets, word processing, databases, desktop publishing, and slide presentation applications. In the real world this translates into a working knowledge of the Microsoft Office or Office.org products on both PC and Mac operating systems.

For a student with a visual impairment, or any student for that matter, it is important that he/she learns how to use these applications. This will help advance computer literacy skills beyond the use of email and/or Internet access. Knowing these applications can actually further the success rate in the job market, continuing education, and higher educational needs. The fact that it is not a required credit can be somewhat of a concern. It could mean that some students will master the skills while others will not. This depends on who and how students are taught business software applications.

So the question becomes, is this yet another compensatory set of skills that the VI teacher needs to teach a student with a visual impairment? We already teach entry-level skills such as keyboarding, screen access, email , word processing and internet access. One reason TEA is dropping the credit is because most students already have good business computing skills. By the time they reach high school, many students have set up spreadsheets, presented with PowerPoint, used a word processor, and crunched data in a database. Are our VI students ready?

Tell me your thoughts…….let’s help each other help our students.

Patrick Van Geem
Outreach Technology Consultant
Braille Music Resources
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