Scott Mcleod of Dangerously Irrelevant has called for bloggers to speak directly to administrators for Leadership Day 2011. Technology and Special Education are a very odd beast, here are my thoughts.
To any Administrator or Principal who is responsible for Special Education students:
If you have spent anytime in a special education classroom my guess is that you've seen a bit of technology. In fact some might say that technology and special education go hand in hand. I'm a huge proponent of using the technology to help students be more independent, but here are some things to think about when looking at technology
1. Cost/Benefit analysis is not the best way to decide - I understand that budgets are tight. I also know that technology for special education students can be expensive. I even understand that many self-contained classrooms have more technology than all the other classrooms, but don't use that as the only basis for what is purchased. I've been in situations where technology was not purchased because it would not "help" enough students, and that is the wrong way to look at the equation. While I understand that it must be looked at, try and think about how the technology will help students be more independent. Many of our students cannot be independent without the technology.
2. Technology isn't everything - So now that I've told you why we need the technology, don't forget it's not everything. I can have all the technology in the world, but if I have no idea how to integrate, use or even turn on, it's going to sit on a shelf and not get used. There are tons of low-tech ways to accomplish things and I'll need to know about those too.
3. Instructional Assistants need training too - If I don't have Instructional Assistants, I can't run my classroom. If they don't know how to use the technology in the classroom, they can't help students when they run into trouble. Instructional Assistants need to be trained in how to utilize what is there.
4. Technology = Independence - I've said it throughout this letter, technology helps students be more independent. All I ask is that you keep that in mind when looking at what you get for students with disabilities
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