Answered by Lise Galuga and Marie-Josée Joly
Technology has made great strides over the last few decades. Today, we rely on small devices that remind us of our appointments, allow us to collaborate on writing documents, make audio recordings or videos, or entertain us. Today’s students cannot fathom a world without technology. They regularly engage with social networking sites and experiment with new applications, sometimes on a daily basis.
For students with learning disabilities (LDs), using technology adequately has enabled them to compensate for certain difficulties. In addition, technology has helped most of these students to demonstrate their full academic potential by boosting their confidence.
As for educators, even though they use technology in their daily lives and in managing their work, certain obstacles hold them back from using technology on a daily basis in their classrooms.
The Biggest Obstacle
Educators are innovative by nature, as they are always on the lookout for new tools to meet students’ needs while also engaging them actively in their learning. However, they sometimes exercise their professional judgement and choose to wait to use certain technologies in front of students until they master these new strategies.
How can we overcome this challenge and encourage educators to integrate continually evolving technologies in their classrooms without them feeling that they have to become experts?
One Possible Solution
Technology can open a lot of doors for students without getting bogged down by all the technological functions offered by the devices. We have to trust that students will be able to help each other when it comes time to using a new tool, a new website or a new application.
Teachers are leaders in education, but do not need to be technological masters. We need to start by taking small steps, trying out new technologies, and allowing ourselves to make mistakes. Even though our attempts are not always perfect, we are initiating a culture of change in our classrooms that will no doubt have an impact on the school experience of students in the 21st century.
But Where Do We Begin?
Whether we are sharing a collaborative document in Google Docs or Word Online, engaging in a blended learning activity (such as a virtual lesson or a lesson using technology, and guided instruction), or simply allowing students to use a variety of digital options to do their assignments, the most important thing is to simply take action to integrate technology, and to trust our students.
Through educator-led modelling, students will learn to:
- work together over time;
- discuss possible solutions;
- plan for next steps;
- explain procedures or concepts; and
- demonstrate critical thinking and listen to other people’s ideas.
Aren’t these all skills that we want to encourage our students to learn?
And for our students with LDs, knowing and mastering various technologies will open a new avenue to success!
Related Resources on the LD@school Website:
About the Authors
Lise Galuga: An engineer by training, but a teacher by nature, Lise Galuga is a provincial educational consultant with the TacTIC team of the CFORP Professional Training Department. Her role is to support schools in their shift towards digital learning. Lise proudly bears the titles of “Google for Education Certified Innovator”, “Google for Education Certified Trainer” and “SMART Exemplary Educator”. She specializes in the integration of technologies in the classroom, and has trained managers, school principals, teachers and students throughout North America and Europe.
Marie-Josée Joly: After graduating from the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa in 1990, Marie-Josée Joly began her career as a Grade 7 teacher in a Brampton school. Subsequently, she was hired as a teacher by the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (CEPEO). From 2001 to 2015, she held various positions related to special-needs students, working as a resource teacher in an elementary school and as an educational consultant in elementary and secondary schools. She is now an educational consultant for special needs students with the Support to Ministerial Initiatives team of the CFORP Professional Training Department, where she provides support for schools, among other duties.