These benefits arise because of implementing both assistive technologies and Information Communication technology (ICT). The implementation of technology in classrooms usually has benefits to both the disabled students as well as the teachers (Kirk, Gallagher, Coleman, & Anastasiow, 2012, p.240). The general benefits of use of assistive technologies and ICT in teaching students with learning disabilities include greater learner autonomy and unlocking hidden potential with those with communication difficulties. In addition, they also enable tailoring of tasks in order to suit the skills and abilities of individuals.
Benefits to the Students
Students with learning disabilities benefit most due to embracement of technology in learning. First, assistive technologies increase independent learning in the students. This is because the use of assistive technologies at some extent performs the duties of the teacher (Winzer, 2005, p. 21). This results to the students depending on themselves. Secondly, assistive technologies provide greater opportunities as well as freedom for content delivery. They also create self-confidence through fostering success.
Use of assistive technologies in teaching students with learning disabilities has the benefits that they work well with learners of all ages (Lindsey, 2007, p.314). This is because the assistive technologies are usually compatible to each disability. Use of assistive technologies ensures that there is an improvement of quality of life via removal of barriers and challenges for the purpose of future educational possibilities.
The use of ICT can significantly increase technology confidence among students which in turn helps in motivating them to make use of internet at school as well as at home (Higgins & Boone, 1997, p. 29). Through embracement of ICT, students with multiple and profound difficulties in learning can be able to communicate more easily. Students who make use of communication aids acquire confidence as well as social credibility at school and even in their communities (Winzer, 2005, p. 26). This is because the communication aids help them to express their feelings, needs and wants.
Through us of ICT, visually impaired students can make maximum use of the internet in order to access information just like their peers who do not have impairments. This is because ICT provides visual aids to these students improving their capability to see properly. With the help of ICT, students with learning disabilities are able to complete various tasks while working on their own pace, without intervention from anybody (Kirk, Gallagher, Coleman, & Anastasiow, 2012, p.305). Lastly, the use of ICT by students with learning disabilities can improve their independence access for education. This is because they do not need to rely on someone when using ICT resources.
The use of computer software by students with learning disabilities allows efficient reading and comprehension. This is because of the simultaneous multi-sensory support. With this, the disabled students are able to see the text on the computer display as well as hear the reading of the text. In addition, computer software helps in improving listening comprehension by allowing the user to develop personal readers (Winzer, 2005, p. 27). This helps in eliminating problems associated with the accent of the human readers.
The use of reading software by disabled students always saves time as compared to help of the teacher. This makes it effective and more preferable in learning institutions as they make work easier. Doing a test on a computer by a student with learning disabilities enables faster scanning for the main words in the questions (Winzer, 2005, p. 22). This is because computer functions such Ctrl+F saves the student's time as he or she can bypass his inability to scan. This greatly helps in saving time. Lastly, it becomes more convenient for a disabled student to do a test on computer. This is because the computer allows the replacement of several written sources with one medium (Aitken, Fairley, & Carlson, 2012. p.111). Through this, the disabled student can be able to arrange text, question sheet and even the dictionary in several different windows on the computer screen. This organization helps the students to concentrate on their tasks while staying in focus for a longer time.
Benefits to the Teachers
The embracement of assistive technologies and ICT when teaching students with disabilities has also some benefits to the teachers. First, it helps in reducing isolation for teachers who teach students suffering from learning disabilities. It does this through enabling them to electronically communicate with colleagues. Proper use of technology by teachers assists in supporting reflection on professional practice through online communication. When teachers help students to use assistive technology, as well as ICT, they improve their teaching skills. In addition, they acquire a greater understanding of technology access of the students (Winzer, 2005, p. 26).
Using technology by teachers in an attempt to help the student with learning disabilities leads to enhancement of professional development. In addition, it also leads to the effectiveness in the use of assistive technologies and ICT by the students through collaborations with their classmates (Aitken, Fairley, & Carlson, 2012, p.111-128). Through the use ICT by the teachers, they are able to access a variety of teaching resources from the internet. Materials in electronic form such as that one from the internet adapts easily into resources used by students with learning disabilities (Winzer, 2005, p. 25). Such materials include large print or Braille. Through this, a teacher is able to significantly improve the quality of education that he or she delivers to the student. On the other hand, the student benefits a lot from these materials.
Pitfalls of Implementing Technology in Classroom
Despite the many benefits that the use of technology has on the disabled students and their teachers, there are also several pitfalls that emerge (Lindsey, 2007, p.229). These include lack of support, inadequate teaching methodology, time wastage, upkeep and maintenance expenses, and incompatibility issues among other drawbacks.
While the use of technology is a great addition to the classrooms of students with learning disabilities, it is also a source of frustration for teachers and the students. This is because there are always technical problems associated with technological hardware. Unless the teacher is exceptionally knowledgeable in technology, there will be a need of a technology expert for troubleshooting the problems (Winzer, 2005, p. 27). This makes the whole process time consuming and expensive. Technology usually requires occasional maintenance in order to keep in a good condition.
There is inadequate teaching methodology for students with learning disabilities by use of technology. The use of technology in class is usually helps the student to remain focused throughout the lesson. However, there is no fully integration of technology until students are able to learn from technology and not just use it (Aitken, Fairley, & Carlson, 2012, p. 286). In simple terms, use of technology for achieving a certain objective is a positive thing. Nevertheless, active use of technology is a skill, which takes time in training.
Due to connections problems, policing software, downloading issues and other difficulties always cause road blocks during implementation of a lesson by use of technology (Winzer, 2005, p. 25). In addition, it is true that many teachers usually shy away from using technology due to lack of time. Disregarding the demands of the student to use technology in classrooms, the amount of time used in the classroom is more valuable. Losing several minutes a day as a result of connection issues with hardware is not feasible. This is one of the significant reasons why integration of technology usually fails in learning institutions.
Up keep as well as maintenance expenses of technology are major challenges when implementing the use of technology in teaching students with learning disabilities. This is because software installation and customization is an expensive activity, as it requires technological experts and resources (Kirk, Gallagher, Coleman, & Anastasiow, 2012. p. 209). The cost of repairing broken hardware is too expensive for schools. In order for learning institutions to implement technology successfully, there should be a continuous replacement as well as updating the plan for keeping technology up-to-date and useful (Tech-Education & Lytras, 2010, p. 293-299).
There are always incompatibility issues during implementation of technology in learning institutions (Tech-Education & Lytras, 2010, p. 293-299). Most of the schools usually follow curriculum based on national assessments. The national assessments are normally paper and pen based. This implies students using computers in learning may have problems when trying to adapt to writing on a paper using a pen. In order to prepare students adequately for tests, students need to practice more on writing than using computers.
Lastly, there are social implications that emerge because of use of technology by students. With easy access to the internet, many students are misusing their time by accessing unnecessary materials, which can jeopardize their morals (Winzer, 2005, p. 23). Examples of such materials include pornographic videos and pictures.
The educational requirements of students with learning disabilities are wide. This is because they require getting knowledge as well as necessary skills as their peers. On the other hand, these students have…