Research Topic 2 – Using ICT with students with disabilities

With the exception of my last post which looked at why students with disabilities may not want to embrace assistive ICT, the majority of my research has led to the opinion that the use of ICT can allow for social integration and acceptance, as well as the ability for students with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to overcome obstacles that have prevented them from learning and participating at school.

This article I have looked at for this post is entitled ‘ICT Training for Special Education Frontline Professionals’. This article supports this idea that ICT is important in the teaching of all students, particularly those with disabilities. It goes on to describe the problem and inhibitor of ICT within the classroom. It is the same problem that I came across in my research for topic 1. Teachers have little or no training when it comes to ICT, therefore ICT that is provided in the classroom is often misused or not used at all. This leads to ICT being left out of teaching pedagogy and practice altogether. The paper looks at a study that was conducted through surveys. It involved a questionnaire about ICT, its use, the individuals ICT skills and knowledge, it also asked for their opinions and beliefs. The survey was conducted on a range of teaching professionals, with a majority of special education teachers. The results clearly showed that all respondents were interested in using ICT in the classroom and that they could see the enormous benefits of ICT technologies for students with learning difficulties.

While teachers can see that training is necessary and the use of ICT is important, it seems teachers are very hesitant. I believe as generation X and generation Y teachers take over from the baby boomers we will see an increase in the capabilities and confidence of teachers when it comes to technology (I do realise this is a generalisation). However, as technology continues to develop and change at this quick pace, soon the new generation of teachers will be left behind. Therefore we still need to address the issue of professional development and the need for regular and constant training in the field of ICT, if we want it to truly be part of a traditional teaching pedagogy.

A quote in this article is “For most people technology makes things easier. For persons with disabilities, technology makes things possible” (Radabaugh, 1988 – from Ribeiro & Moreira,2010)

This is a powerful statement that makes me realise that as teachers we have the responsibility to make things possible for students with disabilities! This is a huge responsibility and it falls on all teachers not just special education teachers. Students with a wide variety of disabilities are now, more than ever, being put into main stream classrooms, therefore we have a responsibility to use ICT and assistive technologies to allow them to learn at the best of their ability but also without making them feel different or incapable! It’s a big challenge…

Resources

Ribeiro & Moreira (2010) ICT Training for Special Education Frontline Professionals’

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