“Research shows technology-based instruction is reducing the time students reach a learning objective by 30 to 80 percent” (Haskins-Powell 2017). The above quote should surprise no one. iCan Dream Center is no stranger to technology as a method to differentiate instruction. We realize the power of technology as a tool to introduce and reinforce knowledge and skills to a diverse learning population. The topic has been discussed now more than ever due to the recent health crisis. However, to look at technology as a stop gap to serve special needs students remotely, only to return to more traditional low-tech solutions once back in the classroom, would be a mistake.
Many teachers were introduced to remote learning applications and virtual learning materials in general when they were mandated to utilize them recently. It has been a struggle for some traditional “pencil and paper” and direct instruction-oriented educators to utilize these tools effectively (at least to this extent), due to a lack of training and experience. The staff at ICD did not have to deal with that situation fortunately. Our programs have embraced technology as a way to differentiate instruction for all learners since day one and our pedagogy and methods have only evolved with the technology.
We don’t do this to appear cutting edge or ahead of the curve. We do it because we care about results and the students we serve. We do it because it’s effective and data driven. “Special technology allows increasing the independence of a particular student freeing him (or her) from the constant need for direct teacher involvement” (Dikusar 2018). This means if used correctly, all students can be the architect of their own learning and carry that learned independence with them into a job or any other adult situation in which one must learn a task or develop a skill without direct facilitation.
ICD will continue to invest in this concept of technology for differentiation whether it be continual upgrades to our laptops/tablets, our expanding computer lab or our recent purchase of a Prowise Touchscreen Board. These items will remain at the center of a truly differentiated curriculum that fosters success and independence in the population we serve. The fact that best practices has also allowed us to adapt quickly to the current remote learning situation has only reinforced what we already knew. Put simply, technology works!
Haskins-Powell, D. (2017, February 15). Digitally Yours: 4 Ways Technology-Based Differentiated Instruction Propels Learning. Retrieved April 23, 2020, from https://medium.com/inspired-ideas-prek-12/digitally-yours-4-ways-technology-based-differentiated-instruction-propels-learning-e0ea0ff0d4ab
Dikusar, A. (2018, August 10). The Use Of Technology In Special Education. Retrieved April 24, 2020, from https://elearningindustry.com/use-of-technology-in-special-education