Elementary Special Education Teachers Place Value in the use of Technology Resources for Students?
Technology is an integral part of society. Students learn through use of technology like personal computers, tablets, and e-books (Garland & Tadeja, 2013). Computers can provide access to videos, documents, and other forms of data that students have the choice of absorbing via visual or auditory methods. Tablets provide the same access but with a light-weight, touch responsive interface. Technology investment within schools not only enables varied learning opportunities for students, but it also helps students discover or improve their own ability to research and analyze information, collaborate and communicate, and solve problems (Lim, Zhao, Tondeur, Chai, & Tsai, 2013). Comment by Steve Moskowitz: Yes, this is the reason
Technology helps provide other benefits. Integrating technology in schools, especially in other areas like special education enable staff to develop new ways of teaching and creating curriculum custom made for special needs students. Fernandez-Lopez, Rodriguez-Fortiz, Rodriguez-Almendros, and Martinez-Segura (2013) stated, “The development of customizable and adaptable applications tailored to them provides many benefits as it helps mold the learning process to different cognitive, sensorial or mobility impairments” (p.77). Teachers have the option of constructing lessons using videos, pictures, and slide shows to allow a diverse array of teaching methods. From use of visual aids to increasing the size of text and making text colorful and appealing, technology makes instruction easier. Digital textbooks for example, allow students access to homework and lesson from the convenience of a mobile device or laptop (Orey, Jones, & Branch, 2013).
The addition of digital textbooks in universities allows for greater student freedom and ability to take their schoolwork wherever they go. In the case of special education students, some stay homebound for long periods of time. If they have the option of digital textbooks, they can have text enlarged, study from home, and collect information for study at their own pace. Technology allows for customization of lesson plans which enables a better learning experience for special education students who often require customization for academic success. Without the use of technology, special education students have limited options.
Barriers still exist in terms of technology and teaching. This is especially true for special education (Cornelius & Nagro, 2014). Special education teachers may integrate some aspect of technology in their curriculum, but some remain resistant, believing technology integration is unnecessary. Schools may be at fault because of the continued lack of policy changes and training for special education teachers. Those with learning disabilities (the majority of special education students) require additional instruction and varied teaching (Fernandez-Lopez, Rodriguez-Fortiz, Rodriguez-Almendros, & Martinez-Segura, 2013).
If schools integrate the use of technology in special education, every special needs student will be able to receive a varied and customizable curriculum that may lead in the long run to a higher quality education as evidenced by the use of distance and online learning (Abrami, Bernard, Bures, Borokhovski, & Tamim, 2012). While technology in schools seems like a recent endeavor, the transition from technology free to technology centric has been in the making for over four decades (Keengwe, 2015). In these four decades many schools have made great strides. Even with progress, some teachers remain resistant to technology integration in schools.
One article notes teacher’s attitudes towards technology as being the main barriers for integration. “Teachers’ own beliefs and attitudes about the relevance of technology to students’ learning were perceived as having the biggest impact on their success” (Ertmer, Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Sadik, Sendurur, & Sendurur, 2012, p. 423). If teachers believe they do not need to use technology to instruct students or they do not feel they can use technology to instruct students, this may make them more resistant to technology integration in schools, especially if they perceive technology as a barrier in teaching (Kim, Kim, Lee, Spector, & Demeester, 2013). It is up to the school then to opens up their perspectives to the possibilities of these attitudes and support use of technology by teachers via additional training with computers and projectors, and supporting teachers that do integrate technology use into their curriculum.
In the case of special education and elementary students, many of these students already have a harder time learning from traditionally designed curriculum (Carnahan & Fulton, 2013). If teachers utilize technology to customize curriculums for their special needs students, they will find greater success in teaching. Technology enables a hands on approach and a greater implementation of visual aids that promotes higher levels of engagement from students (Nam, Bahn, & Lee, 2013). Assistive technology is something many special education teachers use in order to help a child learn. Audiobooks are an excellent example of how technology helps a student that may have difficulty reading or a visual disability, still learn with ease.
In this qualitative case study, the researcher will interview 15 special education teachers from 15 various elementary schools within Miami-Dade County, Florida. Because attitudes and perceptions play such a major role in teachers using or not using technology in the classroom, this study will examine the attitudes and perceptions of 15 special education teachers as it relates to technology integration in their daily general instruction including science, math, history, and English. Perceptions can be seeing technology as an insurmountable obstacle, seeing technology as a hindrance rather than a teaching aid, and so forth. The participants will be chosen from K-5 schools within the Miami-Dade school district. Although the district has 200 elementary schools and many have integrated technology successfully, the need to assess daily integration and attitudes of technology integration have not been fully discussed. Comment by Steve Moskowitz: Expand on what you will be looking for here
Selection of schools will be based on availability and area. Schools must be within the Miami Dade school district. They must be a K-5 school. They must have a special education or Inclusion program. They must have some technology integration and access to email communication.
Special education teachers in an urban K-5 school district have problems with fully integrating technology into their daily instruction. This is largely due to funding (Snodgrass, Israel, & Reese, 2016). This is not just a problem seen in Florida but across the country. While some schools use tablets, smartboards, video or virtual conferencing, and assistive technology like audiobooks, some schools have remained with the traditions and beliefs of the past. Gold (2014), notes the lack of technology available in some schools, while others have student accessible sites and technology departments (Gold, 2014). Special education is an area that needs a higher level of technology integration. This means student access to school websites so they can gain access to additional learning materials and daily lessons, availability of digital texts, use of audiobooks, use of better assistive technology like tablets, and so forth. Special needs students may not have the ability to go to school every day or learn effectively from traditional instruction methods. Technology may enable more options for special needs students that were not possible before. Comment by Steve Moskowitz: You are missing special ed teachers with schools — pick one and be consistent. Comment by Steve Moskowitz: I dis-agree — how will looking at a school website help a sped. Student. Somewhere you need to discuss how tech can help with a spec. ed. Students learning prior to this.
Students with disabilities vary. Some have mild learning disabilities, others have severe disabilities that affect their ability to communicate, walk, and other impairments. 60% of students in special education have some type of learning disability or emotional problem (Aitken, Fairley, & Carlson, 2012). Technology assists by offering options to special needs students. For example, word processing software allows text to be enlarged, colored, and emphasized in ways that grabs a student’s attention. Slide shows allow for use of visual aids. The internet allows teachers access to the most recent educational resources (Wilmore, 2013). However, technology integration is not the only aspect of special education that needs improvement.
Research shows teachers may not willingly integrate technology into their daily instruction because of certain attitudes and perceptions (Vincenti, Buciero, & Vaz de Carvalho, 2014). These attitudes and perceptions often come from lack of training (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Hucks, 2013). In order for schools to integrate technology more effectively, they must first train teachers on how to use technology in their classroom. Special education teachers already struggle with the current responsibilities of teaching students with varied problems and impairments. They need further training to understand how to implement technology to help students learn.
Aside from training, schools must evaluate how well special education teachers handle the integration of technology and if such integration improves student learning outcomes. With schools requiring students to perform well in order to receive government funding (No Child Left Behind Act), it became increasingly important to see positive test results from students. If technology integration proves students learn more and thus score better on standardized tests, this will provide proof that technology integration should be the main focus.
Assessment is an important part of any change. Assessing the results of technology integration in several ways will allow for accurate interpretation. For example:
1. discovering if special education teachers have effectively integrated technology use,
2. if successful integration of technology use has led to improved learning for students,
3. if special education teachers have an easier time teaching through the use of technology.
By evaluating the responses of special education teachers and their attempts at technology integration in their daily instruction, this will provide a better picture of the struggles and perceived barriers as well as what does work in relation to technology integration. Teachers and students stand to benefit from full technology integration. Through assessment and analysis, schools can achieve positive outcomes.
Purpose of Study
The purpose of this qualitative case study is to examine how K-5 special education teachers in Miami Dade County perceive the process of technology integration within their school district and school. One special education teacher from 15 elementary schools in Miami Dade County will be observed then interviewed in order to collect qualitative data concerning perceptions of technology integration into daily instruction. As one study noted, ease of use promotes good attitudes with change and integration when it comes to special education teachers and technology. “Facilitating condition was strongly related to perceived ease of use, whereas perceived ease of use had a significant effect on computer self-efficacy” (Nam, Bahn, & Lee, 2013, p. 365).
This study will provide answers as to what level of technology integration special education teachers have in Miami Dade County. In addition, the study will show if these levels reflect the national average or not. Special education is changing. This study will reflect the changes within Miami Dade County and if special education teachers are keeping up with the changes or not.
Nature of Study and Research Questions
The research method for this case study will be qualitative. Qualitative information provides clarity on complex and hard to interpret problems. By examining how special education perceive technology integration, assumptions were either refuted or supported. One assumption is teachers who have negative attitudes towards technology integration is due to lack of training. By interviewing special education teachers and analyzing their responses, the lack of training can either be confirmed or removed as a potential main barrier. Miami Dade County is one of the largest when it comes to school districts. To examine qualitatively the effectiveness of technology integration is a great way to see the effectiveness of the schools within the district.
The following questions will help guide this qualitative case study:
1. How do special education teachers in Miami Dade County public elementary schools perceive the potential of technology integration as it related to daily instruction?
2. To what extent have special education teachers in Miami Dade County public elementary schools used technology in their daily instruction?
3. What support do special education teachers receive from Miami-Dade County Public Schools?
Many conceptual frameworks exist to help understand actions and problems within society. For the purposes of this qualitative case study, the conceptual framework use will be TPACK or technological pedagogical content knowledge. “The TPACK framework emphasizes how the connections among teachers’ understanding of content, pedagogy, and technology interact with one another to produce effective teaching” (Koehler, Mishra, Kereluik, Shin, & Graham, 2013, p. 101). Although a relatively new framework, it has helped influence theory, research, as well as practice in relation to teacher professional development and teacher education. The TPACK framework enables teachers to consider technology application in their design thinking processes. This is because 21st century learning has produced different opportunities and requirements that were not seen in the past (Koh, Chai, Benjamin, & Hong, 2015).
Originally created/outlined in 2006 by Matthew Koehler and Punya Mishra, TPACK or TPCK builds on the work produced by Shulman. Shulman stated information of a content or subject area void of pedagogical skill would not help in developing good teachers. Koehler and Mishra expounded upon this statement by explaining and adding the technological component and making the technological component, the main component. “This necessitates that the teacher looks further than technical aspects and considers the importance of the interplay of technology knowledge, pedagogical knowledge” (Ma, Yuen, Park, Lau, & Deng, 2015, p. 220). Furthermore, “Quality teaching requires developing nuanced understanding of complex relationships between technology, content, and pedagogy, and using this understanding to develop appropriate context specific strategies and representations” (Ma, Yuen, Park, Lau, & Deng, 2015, p. 220). By importance and significance on the technological aspect, there’s an increased need in developing the skills required to make technology integration feasible for teachers, especially special education teachers.
Definition of Terms
â€¢ ICT or Information and community technology: An expansive phrased that explains the merging of networking, telecommunications technologies, and information into a single technology. Many researchers find ICT proficiency low among technology-poor countries and note organizational culture influences how technology proficiency and integration (Tong, Tak, & Wong, 2015).
â€¢ Integration of Technology: “Level 0 is non-use, Level 1 as awareness, Level 2 as exploration, Level 3 as infusion, Level 4A as mechanical integration, Level 4B as routine integration, Level 5 as expansion, and level 6 as refinement” (Beycioglu, 2013, p. 181).
â€¢ Teachers’ Technology Proficiency: “Levels 0-2 = indications of low comfort/skill, Levels 3-5 = indications of moderate comfort/skill, and Levels 6-7 = indications of high comfort/skill” (Beycioglu, 2013, p. 181).
1. Several assumptions were made for purpose of this qualitative case study
2. Findings from the qualitative study will provide clarity on what may cause lack of technology integration for special education teachers.
3. Lack of training leads to perceived barriers as it relates to technology integration.
4. Negative beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes on technology affect technology integration for special education teachers.
5. Study findings may lead to improvement in strategies adopted to increase technology integration among special education teachers.
6. Participants in the qualitative case study may either support technology integration or go against technology integration.
7. The current body of research will provide supplementary information to guide the process of evaluation.
Several limitations will exist within this qualitative case study. The first is researcher bias and its potential influence on examination and interpretation of study findings. To reduce such a limitation, no interference will be given when asking questions to participants. Participants will be given objective questions free from personal bias that will then answered with no cues or interjections. The second limitation will be the limited range of potential participants. Only special education teachers in public elementary schools will be selected. This removes the potential for variety in the sample and produces a narrowed view on the issue. Furthering this limitation is excluding other school districts from participating.
Scope and Delimitations
The scope of this qualitative case study will be delimited to qualitative data collection methods that comprised of participant interviews, research, and the area selected. This will led to a small sample size compared to similar studies conducted in schools containing greater age ranges for students and more school districts. Generalization could happen in qualitative studies and research, however, this was not the goal for this study.
Significance of Study
Findings from the study will support some theories and assumptions made by researchers in the field of special education and technology integration, specifically in an elementary school setting. “The first-order barrier is external, such as lack of adequate access, time, training and institutional support. The second-order barrier includes teachers’ personal and fundamental beliefs such as teachers’ pedagogical beliefs, technology beliefs, willingness to change” (Tsai & Chai, 2012, p. 1). Because of the growing need for transition from partial technology integration to full technology integration not just in regular education, but also special education, this study contributes greatly. Special education teachers must understand the value of integrating technology into daily instruction. “It is commonly believed that learning is enhanced through the use of technology and that students need to develop technology skills in order to be productive members of society” (Davies & West, 2013, p. 841). By shining light on the opinions of special education teachers and technology integration, there may be a better understanding of what is required for successful transition and application.
Many special education teachers note problems integrating new practices into their job duties. Some sight challenges due to the variety of students they must handle any given day. These students are often disabled and require additional assistance and attention. Unlike in regular education, special education may require additional practices that are both draining and tedious for special education teachers. In order for special education teachers to see technology integration as positive, they must see its ability to make their jobs easier (Green, 2013).
An important thing to note is the use of new technologies in recent times such as social media and virtual schools. Virtual schools may be an option for special needs students wishing to learn but are unable to go to school on a regular basis. Special education teachers would have to learn to use technology via virtual schools and still maintain effective instruction. Customization of curriculum seems helpful in theory to special education students, but may be difficult to execute. However, virtual schools provides things like speech feedback that allow students other options for knowledge absorption, “Speech feedback also increases the communicative aspect of reading and enhances a sense of mastery. This concept of universal design for learning emphasizes that students have individual differences and instruction should embrace the differences” (Shamir & Margalit, 2016, p. 18).
This study may lend to the already mentioned need to train special education teachers more and enable continual growth. Technology needs change each year. Ten years ago teachers only needed to learn how to use a computer. Now teachers must learn how to use tablets, teach from online, and communicate electronically. As the years pass, further technological innovations will lead to a need for additional training.
Implications for Social Change
Technology influences almost every facet of society, careers, and most importantly education. Education has seen a surge in technology upgrades (Ng, 2015). The implications for social change consist of understanding and recognizing information that schools and organizations can utilize to assist in generating a development plan geared towards technology integration for special education teachers and teachers in general. The basis for this proposal for transformation was built on in-depth observations of the perceptions as well as teaching practices of K-5 special education teachers in the Miami-Dade school district in the use of technology for Learning and instruction. Research-based approaches/strategies will discover for the promotion of positive teacher perceptions of technology integration.
Training is an important part of successful technology integration. Without appropriate training, special education teachers are left without the skills for successful implementation of technology in their daily instruction. De Ferranti (2013), notes training plays a critical role in technology integration (De Ferranti, 2013). By presenting evidence of the attitudes and beliefs of special education teachers, Miami-Dade County’s public elementary schools and through extension other public elementary schools will see the need for change in regards to how technology integration is implemented. Modernization, globalization is a key feature of today’s evolving society. Technology brings both modernization and globalization into schools by giving access to both teachers and students on ways to grow and learn from using the internet and communicating and recording information through electronic devices (Kim, Kim, Lee, Spector, & Demeester, 2013).
Technology integration can also allow the seamless inclusion of special education into regular education. As schools move towards promoting inclusion and allowing special education students to feel and be part of the rest of the school, technology integration will make this transition faster and easier. It will also help give options to students that did not have options before. Homeschooling, distance learning, these may be allowed earlier on for students that truly need to stay at home. There are a multitude of different ways for technology to change the way schools see teaching and learning. More research, more studies will help illuminate the way to an integrated and inclusive society and education system.
Summary and Transition
Special education teachers have a difficult time integrating technology into their daily instruction. Some of it is attributed to attitudes and perceptions which may come from lack of training. This section provided an introduction, and introduction to the study, and highlighted the problem statement, nature of the study, operational definitions, as well as the significance of the study. Successful technology integration requires supporting special education teachers not just in changing their perceptions, but also giving them the tools necessary for successful implementation. Evaluations like these promote continual development of special education teachers so they can handle the difficulties associated with transitions.
Research and literature provide the basis from which these changes can take place. Schools must make decisions based on best practices so training opportunities for special education teachers are not squandered. If public schools’ successful technology integration, especially in special education, there may be a higher likelihood of improved inclusion between regular education and special education students. Teachers will also be able to instruct students with tools that provide custom-made curriculum.
Technology is the best way to help teachers adopt new ways of teaching and enable new ways of learning for students (Chiu, 2016). The next section, Section 2, will offer a review of related research and studies and see how the chosen conceptual framework and technology integration can be useful for this scenario. The literature review will contains information and summaries of recent case studies, studies, and articles that help define the most pertinent facets of the study.
Chapter 2 Comment by Steve Moskowitz: Doublespace and follow other APA guidelines. Font spacings, etc.
Special needs students are met with many struggles as they grow and develop. However, technology may make these growing pains easier. This literature review will focus on three main areas: technology integration, teachers and technology, and how technology improves Special education. This literature review is meant to provide insight into what may cause problems in schools in relation to technology integration and what can be done to improve rates of technology integration. The review is also meant to provide information on how technology improves special education and makes addressing the needs of special education students easier thanks to technological innovation. Comment by Steve Moskowitz: How tech improves.. Comment by Steve Moskowitz: Cap? Comment by Steve Moskowitz: This lit. review
Technological innovations brought on through mobile and tablet technology can make learning easier due to portability (Hill, 2014). They also come in the form of social media. Connecting with students comes with a click of a button thanks to sites like Instagram and Facebook, where students can join classroom groups or see interesting pictures and videos related to their area of study They can use what they see and hear to form discussions over the possible connections and associations they recognize (Hill, 2014). This is just a small sample of the options available for classrooms with full technology integration as part of their curriculum. In order to get technology adapted into more schools, teachers must be trained to become familiar with technology integration. Comment by Steve Moskowitz: Can make learning Comment by Steve Moskowitz: Is this higher order thinking skills, looking at pictures? Reconsider this
This literature review will discover how teacher training can change to include technology integration and what benefits come from such changes. It will also explore the TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) framework and its contribution to special education and technology integration. Other areas of the literature review will cover technology as well as what these changes mean for special education. Special education is evolving and integrating not just with regular education but with regular education objectives like adoption of technology. This will also be examined. Comment by Steve Moskowitz: Define this
Technology integration has become the goal of many schools, especially schools that teach early education (Tondeur, Pareja Roblin, van Braak, Voogt, & Prestridge, 2016). The 2016 study recognized the need to train teachers in order to allow for greater rates of technology integration in the classroom. (Tondeur, Pareja Roblin, van Braak, Voogt, & Prestridge, also explored how beginning teachers integrated technology into their curriculum and practice, allowing for the researchers to make a connection between technology use and pre-service education programs. Such a discovery may aid in creating better pre-service programs as well as highlight the need to implement technology integration at the pre-service program level.
The results of the literature review revealed “that all beginning teachers used a wide range of technological applications, mainly for structured learning approaches, while few created opportunities for student-centred technology use. Further, pre-service learning experiences that impact graduate teachers’ technology use were identified” (Tondeur, Pareja Roblin, van Braak, Voogt, & Prestridge, 2016, p. 1). Such conclusions help to identify the significance of teacher educators modelling technology use as a central motivator for teachers in the beginning of their careers to allow for greater use of technology while teaching. Field experiences was the greatest critical aspect influencing a teacher’s current practice (Tondeur, Pareja Roblin, van Braak, Voogt, & Prestridge, 2016). This means field experiences and technology integration may coincide in redesigned pre-service programs.
Pre-service programs according to (Tondeur, Pareja Roblin, van Braak, Voogt, & Prestridge (2016), require student-centered technology use and teacher educator technology use, allowing pre-service teacher to familiarize themselves with the various ways they can use technology in their classrooms (Tondeur, Pareja Roblin, van Braak, Voogt, & Prestridge, 2016). Without that beginning influence of technology use in the pre-service phase of teaching, it can lead to confusion, misuse and avoidance of technology as the teacher moves on to instruct in classrooms (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Hucks, 2013).
Certain gaps in research have led to the need to analyze certain topics. One of which is special education and technology (Istenic Starcic & Bagon, 2013). Researchers for a 2013 article noted the lack of attention paid to ICT-supported learning for special needs/disabled students. ICT stands for Information Communication Technologies. ICT-supported learning means to teach and learn using ICT. There are three categories that make up ICT tools. These are Input and Output source and Others. “Research and development of information and communication technology (ICT)-supported learning for people with disabilities has not received adequate attention. It is also difficult to access research findings and developments in this field” (Istenic Starcic & Bagon, 2013, p. 202). Istenic Starcic & Bagon (2013), sought to identify where researchers dedicatred their time researching ICT-supported learning and found almost half (49%) of research in this area was made up of descriptive articles. Comment by Steve Moskowitz: This does not make sense. Comment by Steve Moskowitz: define
Descriptive articles raise awareness of topics, making known possible needs and discoveries through research, however they do not offer the kind of information needed for schools to adopt changes to their policies due because they lack research and observation needed to form precise or thorough conclusions (Istenic Starcic & Bagon, 2013, p. 202) (Thomas, 2013). Descriptive articles remain the bulk of articles covering technology and special education and this could be the reason why technology integration in special education seems to advance slowly through the years (Thomas, 2013). If topics like ICT-Support learning are researched in a way that provide little statistical information and more abstract information, that could mean many other subjects are addressed in this way. What Istenic Starcic & Bagon mentions and what is needed, are more studies and reviews that help provide information on what works when it comes to technology integration and what does not. This will then lend to a better understanding of the necessary steps needed to achieve a change both on the policy level and execution. Comment by Steve Moskowitz: Why are you discussing descriptive articles? Comment by Steve Moskowitz: Can you find another source, this was just used in the previous para.
Another important discovery the researchers made was the nature of research before and after 2000. Before 2000, researchers aimed to examine designs of learning materials according to a specific disability or accessibility need. After 2000, research pointed more towards exploration of universal design in educational tools for special education students. The shift in design chance could be due to the nature of special education. Comment by Steve Moskowitz: You cannot have two paragraphs in the lit review without citations.
Any student that may have problems, delays or difficulty learning can become a special education student (Management Association, 2016). This means a multitude of disabilities and disorders fit into what would make special education necessary. Children with learning disorders or children with mental handicaps may be put into special education (Management Association, 2016). Therefore, any learning devices needed for special education students would need to be used by all the students in the program versus some. This shift may be useful now as schools in order to move ahead with policy changes, need technological integration to be cost-effective. What can be more cost-effective than a learning aid that is universal?
This section covered technology integration and how it can be useful in schools. It also covered some of the ways it can be better integrated through state government interventions and policy changes. Changes at the policy level allow for growth of technology use and integration in schools. The section also discussed research and the lack of research aimed at understanding what works best in terms of technology use in special education. Trends in research fall more towards descriptive content versus experimental and so forth.
Reasons Why Teachers Fail to Adopt Technology Practices
There are several reasons why teachers fail to successfully integrate technology in their classrooms. Schools that invest and adopt technology into their classrooms often find that technology is not as readily used in teaching as desired. A 2012 article on ICT adoption and integration in teaching, mentions the funding efforts made by the government to further technology integration in schools across the globe. “In United Kingdom, the government spending on educational ICT in 2008 — 09 in the UK was Â£2.5bn (Nut, 2010), in United States, the expenditure on K-12 schools and higher education institutions was $6 billion and $4.7 billion respectively in 2009” (Buabeng-Andoh, 2012, p. 136). While this is a step forward towards technology integration in schools, the article states little has been done in terms of adoption and use of technology in schools. “Evidence suggests that education sector is investing heavily on ICT but ICT adoption in education sector lagged behind the business sector” (Buabeng-Andoh, 2012, p. 136). While training remains an important reason why teachers have not successfully integrated technology into their classrooms, the article demonstrates that blind investment and little change in policy or infrastructure can lend to a decline in technology integration that can lead to lack of teacher training and thus lack of technology use and integration.
Of the surveys and research the author gathered, one of the main reasons for lack of adoption of technology in schools by teachers is training (Buabeng-Andoh, 2012). Teachers are not receiving enough training that instructs them in ways to integrate technology into their teaching. This can be carried through to special education as well. If teachers in regular education classrooms are having difficulty or lack the knowledge to integrate technology into their curriculum, this may be the same issue for special education teachers. Schools must then look to providing policy changes that give teachers access to ways they can integrate technology into their lesson plans.
By doing so, they may be able to harness the full potential of technology integration. This article helped shed light on the fact that schools are making steps towards funding technology integration, but may still need additional funding towards training teachers to use technology more in their classrooms. Classrooms with computers and tablets and use of digital textbooks may not reach their full potential in terms of learning opportunities because teachers do not have the knowledge or tools to successfully implement these innovations and changes (Buabeng-Andoh, 2012). The article also provided insight into lack or absence of adequate educational software. Hardware like computers and tablets need the appropriate software to be useful in classrooms. Without which, teachers find little use for them compared to with the availability of varied educational software programs.
The article also states the rigid structure of the majority of education systems due to their archaic and restrictive curriculum impedes technology integration. Knowing what barriers prevent teachers from adopting technology in their classrooms helps lead the way in discovering ways on how to tackle the problem. Awareness thus is the first step in understanding what is needed to help resolve the issue of technology integration. This article could have been better had it used technology integration within special education. Special education may have an even harder time integrating technology due to lack of teacher confidence and/or training.
Lack of teacher confidence can play a huge role in technology adoption. One article discusses learners’ perceptions concerning effectiveness of ICT use. This include use of social media. “Exploratory factor analyses followed by multiple regressions show that engaging lectures, effective use of ICT tools for individual study and group-work, and as active and self-regulated study strategies have a positive and significant impact on students’ perceptions of course effectiveness” (Venkatesh, Croteau, & Rabah, 2014, p. 1). If one were to look at teachers as students when they receive training to become teachers, some of the information gleamed from this article could be useful in improving learning rates for teachers as they train. If technology integration were adopted in colleges where teachers learn, they can use what they learn as they teacher their own classrooms.
Technology integration becomes much easier when it is learned rather than when it is thrust upon someone. Adoption becomes easier when there is familiarity with what needs to be implemented. This is how the writers of the article explain technology integration confidence (Venkatesh, Croteau, & Rabah, 2014). When teachers learn to use technology beforehand, they can easily adapt and adopt it once they receive that option. Those less familiar with technology, especially social media, will not understand its potential uses in education and will not be so ready to adopt strategies that call for technology integration.
It is therefore the responsibility of schools not just the ones hiring teachers, but the ones educating potential teachers, on to successfully implement technology use in the classroom. What is learned is what is taught and this article helped provide clarity in that point. It did so from the perspective of the student. So many in the education field do not understand the problems that come from never being familiar with technology enough to make it a part of a curriculum. For greater adoption rates, the level of technology familiarity must increase.
MAGDAIRE framework stands for Modeled Analysis, Guide Development, Articulated Implementation, and Reflected Evaluation and it was discussed in a study where it was used to help pre-service science teachers learn technology integration. MAGDAIRE proved helpful in allowing successful technology integration through exploration of various topics such as information presentation and subject matter selection. “MAGDAIRE facilitated the pre-service teachers’ critical reexamination of the affordances of technology for their teaching practices from the views of subject matter selection, motivation empowerment, information presentation, activity design, and pedagogy transition” (Chien, Chang, Yeh, & Chang, 2012, p. 578). MAGDAIRE is just one of many ways to teach technology integration to teachers.
By exploring various ways how teachers can use technology in their classrooms as well as how technology can help augment learning, teachers will be able to take what they learn and apply it successfully to their own teaching methods. Technology has so many uses that are emerging every day. Mobile technology is one of them and is mentioned in the later part of the article showing that being aware of the various ways technology is advancing can be useful in promoting technology integration. As previously stated, technology is an important aspect of learning in the modern age. However, it takes learning to use technology to see its successful integration and implementation.
In the article, the MAGDAIRE framework was taught in Taiwan. The benefits discovered from using the MAGDAIRE framework was clear. MAGDAIRE enabled major promotion technology competencies among the pre-service teachers. It also helped facilitate serious reassessment of technology for teaching practice (Chien, Chang, Yeh, & Chang, 2012). Those that used the framework noted how much easier it was to understand how to use technology in the classroom.
Teacher education is just as important as student education. What the teacher learns can be imparted onto the student. By preparing teachers using a framework like MAGDAIRE, teachers understand what modes and methods can be used with technology and how that can drive further learning for both teacher and student. The article provided one means of effective teaching of technology integration for teachers or pre-service teachers. Potential gaps lie in what methods can be used for teachers already teaching and how they may be able to harness the use of technology in their classrooms.
Many teachers are not able to successfully integrate technology in their classrooms. A 2013 article discusses why this is a common occurrence in schools throughout the United States. The authors share the possible reason why there is low integration rates for technology use is due to the lack of exposure while training. By examining 73 participants using an online teacher training program, the authors discovered that attempts at integrating technology during training helped them overcome any fears they had of using technology and making it part of their curriculums. “The results amongst 33 participants who completed both pre- and post-test indicate that TPACK skills increased substantially. Over time academics were less convinced about the merits of knowledge transmission” (Rienties, Brouwer, & Lygo-Baker, 2013, p. 122).
Again, this study reinforces the need to introduce technology integration not just in schools, but in schools that train teachers. Teacher training must include lessons and overviews that use various methods of evaluation and understanding of technology uses and new technologies emerging. The area of technology is constantly seeing innovation and will continue to see innovation in the future. Teachers that want to use technology in their classroom can train from the comfort of home using online programs described in the article.
The participants from the online program enjoyed increased abilities to harness technology and did so without having to learn in traditional education setting. Online learning is not just something that can appeal to students, but also to teachers training or teachers in training. Pre and post-testing was also mentioned in the article along with the others as an effective means of assessment. This method helped gauge whether or not participants saw any improvement with learning goals.
This section discussed technology integration and the need to implement changes not just at the student level, but at the teacher-student level. Teachers should learn from the beginning, during their time training to become a teacher, how to use technology in their classrooms. Without prior knowledge or familiarity of technology in learning, teachers may not be as quick to adopt technology integration compared to those that do have such knowledge and familiarity. Assessment can also help in seeing if strategies aimed at such learning is useful.
How Technology Improves Special Education
Special education has many students with learning disabilities. Some of which have autism. A 2012 article looked at the effect computer technology had on students with autism. They stated computer technology may be useful for autistic students due to their affinity to computers.
Major advances in multimedia computer technology over the past decades have made sophisticated computer games readily available to the public. This, combined with the observation that most children, including those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), show an affinity to computers, has led researchers to recognize the potential of computer technology as an effective and efficient tool in research and treatment (Ploog, Scharf, Nelson, & Brooks, 2012, p. 301).
If computers, make it easier for autistic students to learn, it may also help them interact.
The article continues by suggesting computer technology be used to help autistic students develop social skills through viewing scenarios on the computer to interacting with other classmates and the teacher online. Giving these kinds of communication options to autistic students can potentially open them up to personal growth and development. It is often very hard for autistic students to grow and mature due to their lack of ability to effectively communicate well with others. Computer technology may limit that learning curve and provide much needed alternatives to communication and learning.
In the end, the article provided another way technology could be beneficial in a special education setting. By generating additional options for students’ technology helps improve learning. It can also improve communication. Communication can be an important part of a student’s learning.
Another 2013 article aimed to see the effects of technology use on four teenage students and their ability to solve math problems. “Four adolescent male students viewed videos of themselves on an iPad solving mathematical problems to estimate the amount of money used to pay for a given item and the amount to receive in change” (Burton, Anderson, Prater, & Dyches, 2013, p. 67). Technology integration is often seen as a way to provide a fun learning experience for students. This study shows how using technology in the way of video recordings and then providing students with a way to evaluate themselves, can be beneficial in learning how to solve math problems.
The study suggests the method is useful and allows students to learn without the need to use a traditional learning method. “Findings support a functional relationship between VSM and performance on math skills for each participant. Subsequently, the VSM was systematically faded during maintenance sessions, with little deterioration of skill “(Burton, Anderson, Prater, & Dyches, 2013, p. 67). The study also showed that after using this learning method, there was no deterioration in skill meaning students do not have to depend on VSM in order to continue solving math problems. Proving that technology integration does not promote technology dependence. So many fear technology dependence and addiction is a possible growing problem in today’s society, however, in this scenario, that is not the case. Students with disabilities, especially learning disabilities, can use technology to learn with and then pursue if desired, more traditional methods. Technology can help create interest and success in learning, which may lead to continued academic success in the future. Without these disabled students, especially those with learning disabilities may not feel like they can achieve the kind of academic success they desire or their parents desire for them.
A 2012 study aimed to see if two groups of people with developmental disabilities saw improvements using technology in the form of Nintendo Wii Balance Boards. “…whether four people (two groups) with developmental disabilities would be able to actively improve their physical activities collaboration — walking to the designated location following simple instructions, by controlling their favorite environmental stimulation through using three Nintendo Wii Balance Boards” (Shih, Chen, & Shih, 2012, p. 39). These balance boards are a fun and creative way to get someone with developmental disabilities active and engaged. The article notes how engagement is a big part of learning and fun games that can be played with the Nintendo Wii Balance Boards can provide great learning opportunities.
The study stated both groups experienced positive results from use of such boards. “Data showed that both groups of participants significantly increased their collaborative target response (collaboratively performing designated physical activities) by activating the control system to produce their preferred environmental stimulation during the intervention phases” (Shih, Chen, & Shih, 2012, p. 39). Both groups improved their collaborative target response via activation of the control system. They were also able to improve their body movements while using the board. The marked improvements demonstrate the effectiveness of technological tools that are considered distractions and diversions in the traditional sense.
By providing positive results with a seemingly fun game tool, this study showed how technology integration can be vital to improving areas for special education students that otherwise would not see improvement or would see slow improvement. Learning can be fun and can be done as a game. The study discusses the use of games as a positive means of getting students engaged and learning. This is just one-way technology can bring back the joy in learning.
TPACK stands for Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge and it is a framework that has a complex interplay of 3 main types of knowledge. They are: CK meaning Content, PK meaning Pedagogy, and TK meaning Technology (Koehler, Mishra, & Cain, 2013). Each form is used together rather than in isolation. The kind of importance TPACK highlights is the new form of information that exists at the intersections between, representative of four additional knowledge bases instructors can apply to teaching with technology. These additional four knowledge bases are TPK or Technological Pedagogical Knowledge, TPACK or Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, TCK or Technological Content Knowledge, and PCK or Pedagogical Content Knowledge (Koehler, Mishra, & Cain, 2013).
In order for a teacher to be effective using TPACK and for successful technology integration to take place, it requires forming sensitivity to the transactional and dynamic connection between such components of knowledge placed in inimitable contexts. Such contexts would be grade-level, demographics, individual teachers, culture, as well as other factors that add uniqueness to every situation, as well as no single combination of pedagogy, technology, and content will apply for each teacher or every teaching perspective. TPACK is the means of achieving the kind of integration needed in schools today. For full technology integration to take place, teachers must familiarize themselves with the framework that stresses the importance of technology pedagogical content knowledge.
A 2011 article discussed the need to develop PCK when it came to technology integration. “Developing pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) is an important factor in overall technology integration; teachers must make it a priority to acquire PCK before integrating technology. In preservice teacher education, PCK development must be supported with actual teaching experience” (Pamuk, 2011, p. 425). The researchers also noted the need to support PCK development through teaching experience stating that application of knowledge collected leads to better retaining and carry through. Once a teacher learns how to apply the information he or she gains, that teacher can then learn about technology integration and apply that knowledge into his or her classroom. PCK becomes an important precursor to the proper formation and implementation of TPACK mindsets. This is because TPACK essentially can be difficult to learn due to the lack of defined boundaries within the various TPACK knowledge areas.
When the framework is applied in the classroom, research suggests it helps encourage articulation of ideas concerning what students may inquire over. “Students are encouraged to articulate their ideas about what they are inquiring and to subsequently work on these ideas to achieve deeper understanding, employing not just true/false criteria but also criteria related to the usefulness of the ideas” (Chai, Lim, & Tan, 2016, p. 1). Usefulness of ideas leads to discovery of the meaning and context surrounding particular subjects. This article is helpful because it offers some clarity into the impact the TPACK framework has on learning. Teachers have to understand how to integrate technology into the classroom, especially in a special education setting where as previous articles have shown, technology can offer the most benefit.
The TPACK framework allows one to look at how technology is used, what is known, and how it is taught. Going back to CK or Content Knowledge, it allows the learner to understand the ‘what’ as in the subject area a teacher covers. CK makes up the area of theories, concepts, and facts within any given discipline. PK refers to expert knowledge and this area contains teaching methods, instructional strategies, as well as assessments. PK allows development of effective teaching methods and curriculum design for each student. This why the combination of the two, or PCK must be developed, followed by technology integration. It allows for better knowledge collection and sharing.
TPACK provides the basis from which teachers can develop the means of successful technology integration into their curriculum and lesson plan development. A 2015 article discusses such development. It highlights the process from which teachers can use TPACK to plan lessons. The first step is choosing learning goals. The second is making pedagogical decisions followed by choosing activity types to combine. Then comes selection of assessment strategies in order to gage student performance and progress towards targeted learning goals. The last step is selection of tools and resources (Koh, Chai, Benjamin, & Hong, 2015).
All of these steps help the teacher devise a way of instruction that is complex, engaging and enriching. Technology integration may be difficult at first to learn how to implement. However, it is the process before TPACK, PCK that truly allows such understanding to take place. This is what may be missing from teacher training and may lead to inadequate understanding of technology use in classrooms and lack of technology integration.
This section showed how technology integration can help special education students, in particular using TPACK and how technology benefits special education students. It demonstrated specific ways special education students can achieve success academically and developmentally. This section provides evidence of the benefits of technology integration in special education through developing an understanding of what it takes to apply a technology-based instructional mindset and the steps needed to achieve such an objective. While it may seem difficult to truly grasp and development TPACK ideas and activities, the framework once understood and implemented, can lead to a smooth transition into technology integration and use. Teachers just as much as students need to see technology use from the perspective of learning. That way they can see what works and what does not.
Summary, Conclusion, and Transition
Technology integration has increased in the United States. However, technology adoption is not as readily seen. While technology integration has delivered some positive results, especially for students in special education, one reason teachers opt not to adopt technology into their curriculum is due to lack of confidence and understanding in how to successfully integrate technology. Technology must be integrated via teacher training and then it can be seen successfully integrated in schools. Literature also revealed technology can help special education students in several ways from learning how to communicate and accomplishing learning objectives, to solving math problems and improving physical activity and collaborative target response. Research also revealed that students that use technology may not suffer from technology dependence lending to the idea that technology can and should be used in schools, especially in special education.
In conclusion, the literature covered several areas and provided a deeper understanding of technology integration in schools and specifically in special education. While there are still hurdles in schools successfully adopting technology into curriculum, steps are being taken to ensure success. This success will take time. This is because of the varying levels of which technology integration must be implemented. The first step is at the teacher training level.
The next section will cover methodology and what the study will entail. It will also provide the tools and software used to create this study. While the literature review provided a theoretical base, the next section will see execution of objectives and exploration of assumptions. These assumptions will be analyzed through information collection.
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