Technology in Special Education: Enhancing Learning in the Classroom

Technology in special educationIt’s no secret that technology plays a large role in all aspects of our lives today. When we wake up, the first thing that many of us do is immediately reach for our cell phones. We check the weather, our email, and social media long before we hop out of bed to start the day. This is no different when it comes to how we are incorporating technology in the workplace, or for students, during the school day. In classrooms across the world, technology has revolutionized traditional teaching methods, creating new avenues for learning and enhancing the educational experience for both students and educators alike. When we consider special education specifically, technology provides our most complex learners with access to educational resources that can provide a personalized learning experience. As we incorporate more and more technology into our everyday lives, including in education, we recognize that it plays a significant role in enhancing the learning journey, promoting inclusivity, and enabling our students to overcome barriers to their education.

What Does Technology in the Classroom Look Like?

As educators, when we incorporate technology in the classroom it allows our students to engage with instructional material in a creative way. Perhaps you have an interactive whiteboard at the front of your classroom. When you call a student up to the whiteboard and prompt them to select an answer based on displayed choices, you (and technology!) are providing that particular student with a dynamic learning experience. In turn, the ability to deliver instruction with technology creates an interactive and accessible experience for your students.

Oftentimes, technology in the classroom can facilitate active participation and higher levels of engagement, ultimately leading to better comprehension and retention of information. Additionally, the use of technology, such as adaptive learning software like TeachTown’s K-12 standards-based, adapted core curriculum, enCORE, or assistive technology, can help foster personalized learning for your students. Innovations in technology continue to become more advanced each and every day. In many instances, technology provides the opportunity for educators to input data and monitor student progress to help guide data-based decisions in the classroom.

Personalized Learning Experiences

With technology, students have instant access to resources beyond traditional print materials, like textbooks. Using tools such as online software and digital libraries, students can access instructional material in many different ways. The added accessibility that comes along with technology eliminates barriers to learning, helping students interact meaningfully with various forms of content. Digital libraries, for example, play a key role in inclusive education. A digital library provides students in special education with the opportunity to access traditional content in a different way.

Today, technology can make it or break it when it comes to providing an individualized learning experience for your students. With something like an adaptive learning platform, educators can assess student performance and modify instruction accordingly, providing targeted support and challenges based on each student’s abilities. Compared to traditional classroom instruction, technology has been shown to be more effective in accommodating diverse learning paces and styles. By assessing student performance and adapting instruction accordingly, adaptive learning software targeted support that can enhance student growth.

Building Collaboration through the Use of Technology

In an educational setting, technology enables collaborative learning activities such as online discussion forums, virtual group projects, and real-time document sharing. These technological capabilities allow students to work together, regardless of their physical location, and foster communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills. Additionally, technology can facilitate peer feedback and peer editing, promoting a culture of constructive criticism and collective learning. For example, students can engage in a virtual group project where they collaborate on a shared document using an online platform. This allows students to work together, share ideas, and contribute to the project in real-time, regardless of where their learning is happening.

What Does the Future Look Like?

Becoming familiar with technology becomes more and more important everyday.  By integrating technology into your student’s lives early on, you can empower them to adapt to the changes and advancements that will continue to happen. Whether you familiarize your students with educational apps, different software, or interactive learning experience, the exposure to technology will help lay a foundation for post-secondary success.

4 Strategies That Support Technology Integration:

  • Provide Adequate Resources: Ensure your classroom is as equipped as possible with up-to-date technology tools, such as computers, tablets, interactive whiteboards, etc.
  • Foster a Culture of Exploration: Encourage your students to try new technology, when appropriate. Do you have access to a new platform? See how your students do!
  • Establish Guidelines: When it comes to the use of technology, establishing clear boundaries about appropriate use can not be understated. Through visual supports and verbal communication, continue to reiterate boundaries and responsible technology use with your students.
  • Foster Collaborative Learning: Encourage your students to work together and incorporate technology to create a collaborative space.

Our suite of special education curriculum software offers students with moderate to severe disabilities equitable and inclusive access to the general education curriculum and the individualized interventions that support their success. If you’d like more information, schedule a consultation with a member of our team to learn more.

Contributor Bios

Lena Kazaryan, M.A., BCBA, LBA, is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). She graduated with her Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) from the Florida Institute of Technology in 2019. She has been working in the field of ABA for over 11 years and has experience working in the school setting for over eight years. Her passion is in early interventions with a focus on functional communication. When Lena is not working, she enjoys hiking, shopping, and spending time with her two boys.

Erika Hamlin, Ed.D., supports the statewide implementation of special education software and curriculum across the Hawaiian islands in all 15 complexes that make up the Hawai‘i Department of Education. She has worked in numerous educational roles including inclusive classrooms, special education, administration, and multicultural and multilingual classrooms in some of the most diverse classroom settings in the United States. She is passionate about education as a whole and personally deep-dives into topics of learning in the field of adult learning theories, engineering, mathematics, internal medicine, UX/UI Design, Psychology, Gardening, and more.

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