In secondary school settings the use of technology within the special education classroom is lacking. Special education class rooms and resource settings utilize only the basic, out of date technology that has been in use for many years. Typically the only available technology made available to special education or resource settings are the overhead projector, television, and tape recorder. According to the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (2009), seventy-five percent of students with disabilities rarely or never use computers. General education classes are more frequently equipped with current technology items such as smart boards, iPads, computers, projectors, write pads, and smart pens. Special education students, like their non-disabled peers, are learning 21st Century skills in the general education setting using 21st Century technology. Special education students needing remediation or small group instruction are hindered by the lack of available technological devices.
According to King-Sears, Mainzer, and Swanson (2011) technology can be universally beneficial for all students as a vehicle for learner engagement or conveyance of instructional content, and it can promote participation, learning, and performance by students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who used computer-based instruction made improvements using technology that matched their learning needs, (King-Sears, Mainzer, and Swanson, 2011).
Many students with disabilities have problems with mobility and use of their arms and hands. In classrooms where technology is obsolete it is impossible for these students to obtain educational success. Other students with emotional or social disabilities find it hard to convey
TECHNOLOGY NEEDS IN THE SPECIAL EDUCATION SECONDARY CLASSROOM 3
their ideas and knowledge of a subject in a classroom setting. Providing resource classrooms with sufficient technology can help all students learn in a much more productive forum.
James Hartley (2007) who is a research professor at Keele University, stated, successful learning requires certain skills. Students cannot successfully obtain the skills they need for learning if they are not presented with the technical tools needed to be successful. Hartley’s article goes on to present the importance of learning reading, spelling, writing, music and thinking through the use of new technology. One of the most interesting points of Hartley’s article was when he pointed out that even preschool students have the use of many technical devices and word processors. It is a harsh reality that we live in a country that will support technology for preschool children and not for children who struggle with disabilities in secondary school. Both parents and teachers need to be proactive in making sure there is funding to make improvements in all secondary settings.
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