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Nowadays technology is everywhere we look – in stores, on the roads and in our homes. As technology touches our world, it continues to spread to areas we wouldn’t expect, such as in our schools. Teachers are using technology more and more to improve learning and provide top-notch presentations. Technology makes learning easier and more fun, which is why you can find technology not only in special education classrooms but also in traditional classrooms.
Unfortunately, there are many common barriers when teaching special children, such as language and literacy struggles, neuromuscular coordination deficits and trouble with mobility. The good news is that technology can help mitigate or eliminate these obstacles and improve the classroom experience for every student.
Many teachers use assistive technology software in the classroom, according to Assistive Technology Tools – Supporting Literacy Learning for All Learners in the Inclusive Classroom by Dr. Steve Sider from Wilfrid Laurier University and Dr. Kimberly Maich from Brock University. Kurzweil products convert text into computer-generated speech, which helps students who learn more effectively and efficiently through a multimodal experience. This technology enables students to decode letters, sounds and words by listening to text read aloud.
Another beneficial tool used in the special education classrooms is speech-to-text software that translates spoken words into written text. For example, Dragon Naturally Speaking devices have a microphone that initial voice-training students can use to record their thoughts and ideas.
Co:Writer products include a speech-to-text app or extension that works in conjunction with a word processor. A drop-down menu lists word predictions, and the options are read aloud. This can help students who struggle with spelling and typing recognize spoken words.
Some other tools used include AudioNote, Livescribe Smart Pens and the Notability iPad app. Most of them can be accessed on different platforms, such as Windows, iPads and Android Devices.
Now, you might be thinking this all sounds great in theory, but is it as great in practice? Well, fortunately, our education system has a plan in place that can help special education teachers more easily implement technology in their classrooms as well as help the technology improve the classroom experience for every individual. Those steps include giving the students, teachers and even parents the chance to explore the technology, provide students with the opportunities to use the technology and become comfortable with it, and use the technology regularly in class.
As you can see, technology can help improve the educational experience for students in traditional classrooms as well as special education classrooms. At Sprott Shaw, you can join the ranks of educators who are using cutting-edge technology by enrolling in our Special Education Teaching Assistant Program. Following graduation, you will be able to advocate and support inclusionary practices for students in kindergarten up to students in 12th grade. You will also be able to use the appropriate technology to teach students of all abilities. So, get started today!