Empowering Special Education: Leveraging Technology for Inclusive Learning

In my endeavor to enhance learning experiences and introduce new concepts to students with
unique learning needs, I have implemented a variety of strategies. However, I must admit that I
am still grappling with a comprehensive understanding of how my diverse needs students truly
learn. Nevertheless, I have come to believe that students with exceptional needs primarily
acquire knowledge through their experiences. They build upon past experiences and existing
knowledge to process new concepts. As they redefine their understanding of concepts and
integrate new experiences, their knowledge and comprehension mature.

During their formative years, these exceptional learners develop ideas to make sense of the world
around them. These informal ideas serve as a foundation, which they bring into the classroom.
The objective of special education, therefore, is to provide students with more explanatory
power, enabling their ideas to evolve into useful concepts.

As an educator working with students with learning challenges, I refrain from assuming the role
of a knowledge provider. Instead, I view myself as a facilitator of understanding, presenting
opportunities for exploration, discovery, and knowledge compilation. The level of student
learning is largely dictated by their willingness to learn and their enthusiasm for acquiring
knowledge and understanding.

Active student involvement in their education is paramount, particularly for students who have
concerns with behavior and attention. Students who are interested and enthusiastic tend to be
more willing learners. I firmly believe that willing learners evolve into active participants in their
own instruction. As students become more actively engaged in their learning, they develop a
genuine interest and enthusiasm for the subject matter or the learning process itself.

The notion that there is no universal solution to address the intricate needs of special education
students holds true. Considering the varied learning objectives, employing a combination of
strategies often yields the best results. However, upon my 12 years of teaching experience in
general education and five years of teaching students with special needs, one consistent

observation in my diverse classroom is that all students, regardless of their backgrounds and
needs, share a common thing: they all love computers!

Recognizing the potential of multimedia technology to serve as a conduit for acquiring new
knowledge, developing new concepts, and expressing strong understanding, I decided to
integrate multimedia computer software into my teaching methodology. Through this integration,
I aim to harness my students’ enthusiasm for learning and empower them to take an active role in
their own instruction.

Observing my students as they engaged with interactive and digital technology, it became
evident that they thoroughly enjoyed using computers in completing their assignments. Their
eagerness to begin their online tasks was palpable, as evidenced by the absence of tardiness and
their willingness to work beyond regular class hours. Moreover, student comments reflected their
enthusiasm for learning through multimedia. They expressed that multimedia made learning
more creative and enjoyable, providing a different and engaging way to learn. According to
them, computers made learning fun and exciting, underscoring the potential of technology to
enhance their learning experience.

The incorporation of computers and multimedia software into the special education curriculum
led to an increased level of enthusiasm for learning among students. As a result, many of my
students are seen to have made progress in the goals reflected in their Individualized Education
Plan (IEP).

This successful integration was made possible through our district, Jefferson Union High School
District in Daly City, which prioritized the availability of laptop and Chromebook carts in each
special education classroom. This year, the addition of an interactive screen in my classroom
obviously increases my students’ engagement and participation in lessons. Ideally, computers
and software should be readily available for students to use at school. While logistical challenges
are sometimes encountered, the academic benefits far outweighed the difficulties.

I seamlessly integrate multimedia into my teaching approach, ensuring that technology is woven
into every aspect of classroom instruction. Recognizing the diverse learning needs of my
students, particularly students with autism who are also visual learners, I leverage computer

images and videos to enhance comprehension and engagement. Our software includes assistive
features like read-aloud, word highlighting, and predictive text, providing invaluable support to
students requiring accommodations. My lessons are designed to be interactive and engaging,
incorporating gamification techniques such as Quizizz, Kahoot, Blooket, and Wordwall, to name
a few, for pre and post-assessment activities. Additionally, I utilize interactive apps like
TeachTown and Nearpod, as well as the computer-based IXL platform for math skill practice,
transforming the learning experience.
Computer time is not only used for academic purposes but also serves as a motivating reward for
student achievement. I’ve observed that despite learning difficulties, students feel empowered to
interact and collaborate with their peers through various computer applications, fostering a sense
of community in the classroom.
While there are concerns about excessive computer use and its associated risks such as internet
safety issues, the widespread integration of technology presents an opportunity for educators to
instill responsible digital citizenship among students. By addressing these challenges proactively,
teachers can empower students to navigate the digital landscape responsibly.
The diminishing interest of students in traditional instructional materials like books and paper is
clearly noticeable. This trend, prevalent even in special education classrooms, underscores the
importance of finding a balance between digital and traditional resources to ensure a
comprehensive educational experience for all students.

As our society becomes increasingly reliant on technology, it is essential to provide differently
abled students with early exposure to the usefulness of online instructional platforms through
computer access. Traditional resources are invaluable, but students also require access to basic
technological resources. More computers in the special education classrooms not only generate
enthusiasm for learning but also reignite my passion for teaching.

Joana Bundoc
Special Education Specialist
Oceana High School, Pacifica, CA


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