How Special Ed Students Can Excel With Technology
Special education students have traditionally had less chance of reaching their full potentials in classrooms because their learning styles or special needs vary so greatly schools have had difficulty meeting each of the different needs. Technology has come to the rescue, providing more specialized assistance to a greater number of students. The introduction of technology in the special education classroom has had many advantages, among them the ability for teachers to be able to plan more individualized lessons that meet their students’ specific needs.
Different Students, Different Needs
Students have varying methods of learning. While one student may learn better by seeing someone else work, another may do better by hearing the process described. Some students need specialized equipment like Braille translators or voice-to-print capabilities. With technology becoming less expensive and yet more advanced, schools can afford to provide all the different methods of learning.
Students needing things explained several times are able to have this done, without having to subject fast learners to the repeated information, which causes them to become bored and often tune out and lose interest in learning. Speaking of advanced students, technology allows them the opportunity to access more advanced lessons that previously were not available.
Being able to meet the needs of a greater number of students also has the advantage of creating a more friendly and less-stressful environment for everyone. Less stress translates into fewer acting out events caused by frustration. This translates into still greater chance for advancement in learning.
Many programs are tailored to advance in difficulty based on an individual student’s readiness rather than at a specific time. This makes it possible for students from the slowest learners to the quickest ones, and everyone in between, to spend what time is necessary to fully comprehend the material.
Only being instructed by listening to a teacher lecture or reading a text book is a situation that puts many students on the path to failure. Students who are able to interact with the material being taught have shown greater material retention and higher test scores. Using technology in the classroom allows for this type of interaction. For example, students can watch a video re-enacting a history event, follow either written or pictorial instructions for a science experiment or actively match pictures to vocabulary or spelling words. With voice-to-type technology, a blind student can contribute to a class writing project.
Other students, such as those with autism, may find direct interaction difficult. By incorporating communication technology, a teacher can enable the student to interact socially at a level that feel less intimidating to the child. This gives him a chance to become a part of the classroom.
Technology allows teachers to design their lesson plans in a way that combines more than one teaching method. Incorporating a variety of technological enhancements enables a teacher to program each and then put learning into the hands of the students. Each student is given the chance to learn in their own way, which enables the teacher to add her input as a supplement to the lessons. This can truly enrich the learning process.
Consider this scenario: A student is learning about the Revolutionary War. After watching a video of a re-enactment, a program can quiz the student, either through written words or by verbally asking questions which the student can answer vocally or choose by picking out an answer. The teacher can then sit with the student and have the student tell her, in the student’s own words, what he saw on the video. This one-on-one session allows the teacher to see if the student has grasped the main ideas and clarify any misconceptions. In the end, the subject gets input into the child’s brain in several ways, making it more likely he will understand.
Technology makes it possible to do what once would have taken a private tutor for each child. When used correctly, as an enhancement to rather than a substitute for, it can give every student a chance to reach his or her greatest potential. This means that more students will be leaving their education better prepared to face the world and its challenges. Furthermore, it will help those same students overcome those challenges and succeed in not only school, but life.