Technology is More than a Tool for Special Needs Students

For Some Special Needs Children, Technology Can Be Powerful

In their book, Using Technology to Engage Students with Learning Disabilities, Billy Krakower and Sharon LePage Plante discuss the important role technology can play in the lives of children with special needs. We have talked about the importance of connected teaching in this class and the ways in which technology can lead to students having a broader audience for their learning. Students can connect with students at their own school or across the globe using tools such as Google Hangout or Edmondo.

As effective as this use of technology can be, educators continue to point out that the importance lies in the pedagogy, not the technology. I would agree with this point. This is similar to the research that has shown us that just having access to technology is not enough, but rather it is having a lot of positive teacher support that helps students succeed.

But is this true of special needs children? Krakower and Plante assert that for some students, the importance lies in the tech itself. For learning disabled children, technology goes beyond being a tool, but instead can be a path that leads them to success. In a technology lesson in the classroom, a teacher may see the acquisition of new skills related to the technology to be the goal of the lesson, but for children with special needs, the technology is actually a starting point “as a way to engage in and understand learning as a whole.”

Krakower and Plante state that special needs children “need permission to show the power they have within. The tech is just the glasses and hearing aid that their brain needs.” I appreciate this powerful message for educators as we find ways to help children with learning disabilities. Rather than focusing on what they cannot do, we are tapping into the power that they have inside them and giving them the tech that allows that power to be shown.

I recently went to a faculty retreat where we were trained in a methodology for behaviorally challenged children called The Nurtured Heart Approach. This is a relationship-based approach that focuses on helping children find the greatness within them. As educators, we want to unlock the greatness inside all the children we teach, and sometimes technology can be the key. There are many different tools and ways to use technology to assist and differentiate for children with special needs. I look forward to learning more about them as I continue my reading of this book.

One thought on “Technology is More than a Tool for Special Needs Students

  1. The nurtured heart work look really interesting. I’ve seen so many very limited “tech” tools to monitor and reward behavior that starts with such a limited understanding of children that the tech cannot possibly “work”, but schools can be seduced by the novelty without realizing that it’s simply digitizing the same kind of behavioral rewards systems that have been around forever.

    I appreciate what you write here about tech not being the learning goal, but a potential way for kids to access and deepen learning. Those are the distinctions that I’d love to see more of in schools that too often are scrambling to “do tech”. Looking forward to reading more about your thinking along with these authors,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s