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SEND and the supportive technological world that awaits…

‘Inclusion’ as used in this briefing means the efforts made to include students with a range of physical, sensory, communication or cognitive disabilities in both learning and wider social opportunities. ICT can be vital for these students (Becta ICT Research, 2003).

Becta ICT Research, which summaries research surrounding the supportive and inclusive nature of ICT to aid within SEND, found that there are many benefits of technologies being utilised within schools. Not only does technology help some children communicate more easily but the programs and technologies allow tasks to be personalised to suit the needs of the individual child. Therefore, these children can complete tasks at their own pace enabling a greater learner autonomy.

Recently, I completed the Pick’n’Mix module on ‘Professional issues’, in particular regarding the inclusion of SEND and how computers can enhance the learning of children with SEND.  This is an area that greatly interests me as I believe inclusion is paramount to successful learning and every child reaching their full potential.

During my time as a 1:1 TA, I often utilised iPads and a laptop to engage the student and enhance learning though educational software and games. I found that my student was often more focussed and engaged within learning if the task included a computational aspect as sitting and writing frequently resulted in frustration and refusal to do the work required.

notetalker_blog_post_header
Notetalker: an example of a program that records speech allowing for easy access to lessons at a later time to help pupils learn and take in information at their own pace.

There is a plethora visual-timetableof apps, programs, software and accessories that are often used to support children with special educational needs and/or disabilities. During my time in various schools, I have seen certain technologies utilised such as large font keyboards, speech to text computers, recording devices and adapted iPads with specialised apps. However, the module also introduced me to software I had never encountered before such as eye trackers, visual timetables and converters which large-print-keyboardlower the reading age of a text type.

I found the Understood website particularly useful and informative. They have included sections on how assistive technology can help within multiple subjects including reading, writing and maths and sections on speech to text technology.

In addition, the article titled ‘8 Examples of Assistive Technology and Adaptive Tools’ was extremely informative. Not only did it outline the technologies that could be of use, but also explained why they are useful and aid in children’s learning within education.

The links below offer extra information in reference to ICT as a supportive tool:

Planet PDA: http://planetpda.net/blog/using-ict-to-support-pupils-with-send/

  • Explores and explains a range of technologies that can be used within the everyday classroom to support students with SEND. They include:
    • Visual timetable makers
    • QR codes to allow easy access to internet links
    • Screen magnification with Dophin
    • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ACC)

Inclusive: http://www.inclusive.co.uk/

  • Inclusive is jam packed with information about software, resources and products that assist in the inclusion of and support for children with SEND. IT even includes explanations on how to use the technologies and how/why they are useful. A few worth mentioning include:
    • iPad apps; there are over 40 apps reviewed which are available to download on android and apple products.
    • A plethora of software to support communication and produce communication and symbol based resources.
    • Apps and software which aids those with visual impairments and complex needs.

The ICT service: http://www.theictservice.org.uk/uploads/RenHPSE8kbfDWQrq.pdf

  • A one-page document produced by Cambridgeshire County Council that outlines what they do to help support children with SEND within ICT.
  • They state that ‘Schools are recognising the benefits of using technology to support learning and promote independence for children with special educational needs.’

Barefoot CAS: http://barefootcas.org.uk/activities/sen/

  • This showcases an extensive list of activities to assist pupils with SEND within computing. Some activities include:
    • SEND Scratch Tinkering Activity: In this activity pupils will tinker with the program Scratch through guided questioning to find out how it works and then adapt to make their own activity. Support and extension worksheets are provided to differentiate within your class along with exemplar Scratch files for your pupils to explore, before having a go at their own!
    • Sorting Objects Activity: In this lesson pupils sort objects according to their features and develop their ability to spot patterns. Some pupils may also create rules for their patterns and in doing so work with This activity is supported by a picture cards, a ready-made Scratch project and Communicate:In Print resources.

However, as each child is different, it is best to find out what works best for them and I will adopt that mindset during my teaching practice.

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