Today’s guest blogger, Meg Wilson, comes to us with a background in special education. She has seen what opportunities technology can provide for all students. Be sure to check out Meg’s website, www.ipodsibilities.com. ~EMP
Education today is changing with the help of technology. Students now have access to tools that allow them to enhance their own learning, wherever and whenever they want. Teachers have opportunities to individualize instruction in ways that simply didn’t exist ten years ago. Schools have classrooms filled with ideas that are being shared around the globe. This growth in educational technology has had a profound effect on the success of today’s students and teachers.
My philosophy on the importance of using technology in education stems from my background in special education and adaptive technology. For years, I have offered exceptional students the opportunity to use technology to access information, accommodate learning, and assess knowledge. When I began co-teaching in general education classrooms, I quickly realized the importance of using technology as a tool to individualize instruction for all students. Everyone learns in their own way and technology can assist teachers by tapping into students’ individual strengths. By giving students the tools they need to succeed, teachers are opening doors for students to enhance their own learning, to invest in their own future, and to demonstrate their knowledge in a way that is meaningful to them.
Today’s students require knowledge that is meaningful, social, and authentic. Educators can use technology as a tool to assist in this process. Individualization is crucial; what is meaningful to one student may not be meaningful to another. Knowledge thrives when students have opportunities to be social, to debate issues, to question others. Technology is giving students the opportunity to have individualized and differentiated instruction that lets them be truly authentic learners.
Thanks to technology, global learning is taking over classrooms. Students are using mobile learning devices and Web 2.0 tools to share their understanding about different topics with others around the world. Teachers are exposing students to tools like video conferencing, blogs, and wikis, where classrooms can collaborate on an unprecedented level. Classrooms are extending beyond the school day and students are taking learning to a whole new level by utilizing technology.
There is a clear paradigm shift happening in education. No longer is technology an activity, it is a tool. It is a tool to individualize. It is a tool to discover. It is a tool to create. It is a tool to publish. It is a tool to inspire. Technology is a tool that is changing education as we know it.
Meg, Thank you for this perspective on the use of tech in our teaching. I have seen how technology can really engage special education students, ELL students and those with severe learning disabilities. I wish our schools had more in their budget to accommodate their needs.
I know of one teacher that allows her student (working one-on-one) to use her iPod to stimulate his needs. In other cases, our students use reading programs online (Lexia and Read Naturally). Do you have other suggestions?
iPods and iPads are wonderful for so many students in so many different ways. The wealth of apps available make it possible to individualize learning for all students in the classroom. Some students benefit from organizational tools like calendars (native app), check-lists (To Do) , and mind-maps (iThoughts). Other students need assistance with a reader and benefit from podcasts (teacher-created, student-created, or downloaded) as well as the built in VoiceOver with an e-book reader (iBooks). There are also behavior management tools (BehaviorTrackerPro or Bean Jar Kids HD) and communication tools (Proloquo2Go and iCommunicate). I can’t forget to mention the use of content specific apps (The Elements or Shakespeare in Bits) for classroom use. With more and more apps added to the App Store everyday, the possibilities are endless! If readers would like more info and resources about using iPods and iPads in the classroom they can check out http://www.iear.org or my website http://www.iPodsibilities.com
The possibilities really are endless!