Using Technology Within Special Needs Schools/ Students with Special Needs
Within a classroom the academic ability of pupils vary quite significantly therefore the teacher must adapt their teaching skills in order for every pupil to learn. The material of the class may be very difficult for some pupils and for others they may be able to do it in their sleep. The teacher must take this into consideration and adapt the material and classroom setup in order for each and every pupil to benefit and learn. However, when a pupil requires additional help they may be allocated to a one-to-one teaching assistant. This is true for the majority of pupils who have special needs within a regular classroom. If the pupil is in a regular classroom it demonstrates that they are able to learn and are able to attend school and be involved with other pupils who may not have special needs, they may just need additional support in which a one-to-one teaching assistant could provide. However, they may not be able to grasp the classroom material as well as the other pupils therefore what can be done to promote their education?
Schools are now providing pupils with special needs with technology to attempt to assist their learning. Such technologies can range from complex speech recognition systems and educational software to having just a simple spellchecker (Maor, Currie, & Drewry, 2011). One research article found that computer technology has been able to assist students with sever disabilities to overcome several limitations that obstruct their participation within the classroom – from hearing and speech impairments to blindness and sever physical disabilities (Hasselbring, 2000). Another study (Khek, Lim, & Zhong, 2006) has gone as far as to say that through the use of assistive learning technologies pupils with special needs can perform their everyday learning tasks on par with their peers.
A more recent study analysed the use of an Apple iOS mobile device in special education classes (Campigotto, McEwen, & Epp, 2013). They used an application called ‘My Voice’ that allowed the students to input words and link words to pictures using a touch-based interaction. The results found that the pupils were highly supportive of using mobile devices to enhance their classroom experiences which therefore resulted in the pupils being more motivated and seeing the mobile device as appealing. Another finding that they discovered was that by successfully integrating technologies (software and/or devices) into classrooms the needs of students that perform at different levels are met. This is an important finding and is a successful outcome from using technologies with pupils who have special needs. Another significant finding was made by Neely et al. (2013). They discovered that the two students with autism spectrum disorder, who participated in the study, demonstrated lower levels of challenging behaviour and higher levels of academic engagement when academic instructions were given with an iPad in comparison to academic instruction through traditional materials. These findings suggest that escape-maintained behaviour may reduce for some children with autism when academic instructions are delivered through the use of an iPad. This finding along with the others mentioned in this blog can only further promote technologies to be used with pupils who have special needs. Maor, Currie, and Drewry (2011) discovered that assistive technology consistently improved spelling, reading, and writing after analysing just 15 research articles.
Campigotto, R., McEwen, R., & Epp, C. D. (2013). Especially social: Exploring the use of an iOS application in special needs classrooms. Computers and Education, 60(1), 74-86. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.08.002
Hasselbring, T. S. (2000). Use of computer technology to help students with special needs. The Future of Children, 10(2), 102-122. doi:10.2307/1602691
Khek, C., Lim, J., & Zhong, Y. (2006). Facilitating students with special needs in mainstream schools: An exploratory study of assistive learning technologies (ALT). International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 1(3), 56-74. doi:10.4018/jwltt.2006070104
Maor, D., Currie, J., & Drewry, R. (2011). The effectiveness of assistive technologies for children with special needs: A review of research-based studies. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 26(3), 283-298. doi:10.1080/08856257.2011.593821
Neely, L., Rispoli, M., Camargo, S., Davis, H., & Boles, M. (2013). The effect of instructional use of an iPad on challenging behavior and academic engagement for two students with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7(4), 509-516. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2012.12.004