How technology is empowering children with special needs in the classroom
In our modern society, we are becoming more and more aware of the individual needs of each pupil in the classroom. In 2016, 14.4% of pupils in school had special educational needs. That’s 1,228,785 children, each with their own individual learning style and needs. In this age of drastic budget cuts, how can teachers have the time or resources to care for those individual needs? Technological devices and apps are a remarkable resource, often full of free ideas and content.
How can technology help to include pupils with special educational needs?
Teachers often find it difficult to think of ways to include pupils with special educational needs in classroom activities. For SEN pupils, simply being included in the lesson can feel very empowering. However, if they struggle with their reading, for example, they can find it very hard to feel included.
Technology is now giving teachers the power to tailor the lesson to each pupils’ individual needs. For example, if each child is working from a tablet whilst completing a reading task, the teacher can adjust the difficulty using a reading app. There are lots of these kinds of apps where you can allow pupils to work on different tasks at different speeds.
This flexibility can help boost confidence as they feel like they are able to work alongside the rest of the class. This will also help the teacher to be able to take everyone’s learning speed into account.
Can technology help those with physical disabilities?
Although we often think of learning difficulties when we talk about SEN, some pupils also have physical difficulties that hinder them in the classroom. Some students may be blind, deaf or have limited mobility.
However, assistive technologies have come on a lot over the past few years. Before, these technologies were bulky or difficult to use. But now, pupils can download assistive apps, such as text-to-speech, onto the device they carry around with them. This means that they can access this assistive technology all the time on an everyday device.
Presenting information in different ways
Some pupils with special educational needs simply struggle processing a lot of information at once. However, technology and apps are now available to present this information in different ways to suit different types of learning styles. For example, a pupil might find it hard to write a whole page as they find the information too overwhelming. However, apps are available to break this down. For example, apps can read the information out load to them or use visual aids to help them.
This ability to present information in different ways allows pupils to learn in a way that suits them. Teachers often find that, it’s how the content is presented, not the information itself that some pupils don’t understand.
As discussed above, all of these technologies help pupils to participate in the classroom and even learn at home. Participation gives a great feeling of empowerment. In the education system today, pupils with special educational needs have a goal to allow them to be in the least restrictive learning environment possible. Therefore, being able to participate in the same learning tasks as their peers reduces the restriction when learning. Thanks to technology, teachers are now able to break down the traditional boundaries for all pupils to provide a more inclusive classroom environment.2