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I’m sure you can imagine or know from personal experience how hard school can be sometimes for students, but can you imagine how hard it is for a student with special needs? There are many different challenges that students face on a daily basis, one of them possibly being whether or not they have a disability. Disabilities can be temporary, relapsing and remitting, or long-term including hearing loss, mobility disabilities, Asperger’s disorder, or Autism. Having these disabilities may cause students to fall behind in school because they don’t fully understand the material. Teachers should be aware of these students so that planning, homework, and classwork should be designed to give all students equal access to learn in the classroom. Luckily, there is a solution. In today’s society, technology is evolving tremendously and with that being said, iPads are being used in I’m sure you can imagine or know from personal experience how hard school can be sometimes for students, but can you imagine how hard it is for a student with special needs? There are many different challenges that students face on a daily basis, one of them possibly being whether or not they have a disability. Disabilities can be temporary, relapsing and remitting, or long-term including hearing loss, mobility disabilities, Asperger’s disorder, or Autism. Having these disabilities may cause students to fall behind in school because they don’t fully understand the material. Teachers should be aware of these students so that planning, homework, and classwork should be designed to give all students equal access to learn in the classroom. Luckily, there is a solution. In today’s society, technology is evolving tremendously and with that being said, iPads are being used in the classroom to help all students especially with special needs tackle their classwork.
In the journal article, “Using an iPad With Systematic Instruction to Teach Shared Stories for Elementary-Aged Students With Autism” from 2014 volume 39 Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, the authors Spooner et al., discuss the importance of using the iPad, as an AAC device, to help with literacy skills to elementary-aged children with autism. The authors believe that literacy skills are important for accessing all areas of academic content as well as for increasing quality of life. This project extends the research by examining the effects of systematic instruction, including constant time delay and a modified system of least prompts, paired with an iPad2 to teach grade-appropriate literature in a shared story format for students with limited verbal ability. Many students with developmental disabilities may not yet be readers; however, students can learn (a) important early literacy skills (e.g., concepts of print, print knowledge, vocabulary acquisition; and (b) listening comprehension through the context of grade-aligned materials. The authors of this journal article put multiple hours into researching that share stories greatly influenced a students’ education. They even believe that through shared stories, instructors involve students in the process of reading by directing the students’ attention to text, pairing target story words with their meanings, and asking questions about the story. Technology is advancing each day making it so that through it, the devices can provide multiple types of instructional and assistive support on the devices. Authors Spooner et al., say that, “Using devices such as the iPad® to augment instruction can be less stigmatizing and more socially inclusive than traditional AAC devices, and these devices may be more familiar to teachers and therefore easier to incorporate into instruction.” In their research, Spooner, Ahlgrim-Delzell, Kemp-Inman, and Wood used four books; Where the Wild Things Are, Rainbow Fish, Stellaluna, and Officer Buckle. These books were modified to include a repeated story line, to highlight the vocabulary word, and to separate pages for ease of turning. They were selected because of their inclusion in a research-based early literacy curriculum, Building With Stories, designed for elementary students with developmental disabilities (Browder, Ahlgrim-Delzell, Flowers, & Baker, 2012; Zakas & Schreiber, 2010). The researchers then took these books and began to test them against four elementary aged students with autism. They took a baseline test and then had each student use the iPad to see if the outcomes of using the AAC devices would impact the students’ learning. Although it may seem like using iPads in the classroom with elementary-aged students will become a distraction, it may be surprising to find out that it is actually promoting learning.
According to BBC, the iPad in the classroom brings education to life. Children have “endless access” to valuable information such as a dictionary and thesaurus. BBC says that, “Interactive technology makes learning more engaging and memorable (BBC, “iPads in the Classroom”, 2010)” which is agreeable. The tools available on the iPad such as audio and video recorders can change the way that learning takes place and homework is completed. So what if all children in a school were given an iPad to use in class and take home with them?
In the article, Anne Laure Bazin who is the assistant head Teacher at Mounts Bay Academy in Cornwall works in a school where every child, teacher and teaching assistant is given a free iPad to use in and out of lessons. For her, it says that, “The main advantage of everyone having an iPad has been the improvement in communication.”
In the article, Educators Evaluate Learning Benefits of iPad, it talks about the benefits of the iPads in the school systems. Quilt says in “the Virginia Department of education, they are phasing in the second wave of a pilot program that uses Apple’s iPad tablet computers as the centerpiece of a social studies curriculum (Quillen, “Educators Evaluate Learning Benefits of iPad,” 2018).” As technology is becoming more advanced, more and more schools seem to be jumping on the wagon and incorporating iPads or other tablets into their curriculum. Quillen mentions in his article that, “Excluding the fad factor, experts say there are legitimate reasons for educational interest. With a battery life of eight to 10 hours and a weight of just over a pound, the iPad offers more portability and less startup time during the full school day than laptops or netbooks, while its screen size facilitates more flexibility using the Web and easier input than smartphones.” With such rapid endorsement of a device including such a short history means that figuring out the best educational use can involve lots of trial and error. With this being said, there are considerable amounts of hesitation that educators face. Rob Residori, a literacy and technology coordinator with Chicago’s Striving Readers project questions whether the whole idea of having iPads or tablets as a main curriculum tool has really been thought through thoroughly. He also states, “Is this the best use of our funds, or is it simply a tool to engage and motivate our students?” he asks. “Of course, technology has that capability, but is that always the best angle?” Although some say there are downfalls to involving technology in the schools for students, others have more confident opinions. Jim Doris, Pearson’s director of emerging markets for the humanities mentions, “The nice thing on the iPad is you have more real estate to present content, visuals, and to physically navigate” In addition to what Doris is saying, most students nowadays are more visual learners who needs to see the whole picture before understanding the concept so the fact that iPads are being used for this purpose is very beneficial in the learning process.
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