Top 5 technology trends in special education
Technology has transformed many sectors over the past decade.. Including education. Schools now use a lot of modern technology to teach students.
Special needs kids are not exempted from the benefits of technology.
This article covers five technology trends that are growing in importance for special needs kids.
Five technological trends in special education
Virtual reality and Augmented reality
It can be cumbersome for autistic kids to navigate crowded places or stand in line for a long time. But, if we introduce these kids to a virtual environment where they can practice their motor skills, they could become more accustomed to physical places outside of virtual reality.
Virtual reality is a nascent field. One usefulness of this technology is that it can allow autistic kids to practice how to respond to real-world challenges.
Virtual reality technology can also be useful for special needs kids with some form of disability. It helps you create a virtual environment that promotes mindfulness. Kids have the opportunity to manipulate objects in ways that aren’t possible in the real world. It can also help them become more present and aware.
Artificial intelligence for early screening
AI is another technology trend with many benefits to special needs education. Several companies have come out to show how they’ve used artificial intelligence.
One such company is Amplify with its mCLASS education technology tool. This tool can assess kids’ reading skills to test for dyslexia. Currently, most schools and districts use observational assessments to test for the learning disorder; this educational technology makes such tests more effective.
Another such company, Babynoggin, has developed a mobile app that uses AI to screen children for delayed development in different areas to ensure no learning disorder goes undetected. It screens:
- Motor skills
- Social-emotional abilities
- Cognitive processing
- Language skills, etc.
While the mentioned educational technology makes screening more efficient, they cannot diagnose learning disabilities. Only a trained professional can diagnose any special needs. And they require direct interaction to do so.
Personalization is another new trend in education. It allows special needs kids to set custom options just once. Content and other settings can be automatically altered based on actions they perform with their profiles.
Greater personalization eliminates the need for special needs kids to alter different profiles and customized suggestions repeatedly.
Google is one technology company leading the shift with this trend. They have made a significant impact on the development of their web-based Chromebook devices and other popular G-Suite productivity tools. Chromebook by Google has several elements that could help people with special needs. Amongst them is a “select-to-speak” feature which allows users to highlight text and then have the computer read it back to them. This feature is important for special needs students that read in braille. It includes features like:
- Read and edit documents
- Predict words they intend to write
- Translate words through Google’s Chrome web browser extension.
Users can tie all these features to their own individual user account. No matter which Chromebook they use, their accessibility settings and experiences will remain the same across multiple devices.
Computer science accessibility for all
In 2018, more than one hundred companies, nonprofits, advocacy organizations, and universities came together to sign an accessibility pledge. The pledge intended to make computer science education more inclusive; this included making it accessible for special needs students.
Bootstrap is one of the companies spearheading this initiative. They developed a computer science curricular module for math and physics classes.
Some of the goals of the initiative include:
- Making its platform more user friendly for students who can’t use a computer mouse.
- Incorporating a screen reader capability on its platform. This allows the platform to read the output of any program created by a user.
- Creating a toolkit function that can integrate with different programming languages to read code aloud, verbally describe code structure and purpose, and read in different languages.
It is clear from their goals that Bootstrap is pushing heavily for inclusivity for all. Hopefully, with this inclusion to the digital education system, we can see more inclusive projects.
Making “Open” more open
Another technology trend in special education is making “open” more open. It operates under the belief that students should have the ability to transform how they interact and interoperate with various technological resources/platforms.
For instance, many schools have embraced the usage of open educational resources. These are resources that platforms provide for free and without restrictions. One example of an “open” technology is the PDF file type. It retains consistent text, image, and layout formats across multiple devices regardless of their operating systems. However, this file type isn’t fully “open.” It has limitations such as;
- The inability to work well with several screen readers
- Limited searchability
- Lack of customization for students with special needs
- Doesn’t support the embedding of assistive features for users with special needs
But with this trend, open resources will make “open” more prevalent and with features that make them friendlier. Supporting the needs of special education students.
All these new trends in education will make it easier for special needs kids to get academic assistance. These technology trends are not only more effective for spotting learning disorders in kids, they’re also essential for inclusivity.
Frank Hamilton has been working as an editor at essay review service Best Writers Online. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing, and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.