Due to technology’s unique ability to adjust to the needs of individual students, it can be a wonderful classroom resource for students suffering from learning disorders or other physical or psychological disorders that may prevent them from gaining much knowledge from a traditional curriculum. In an area of technology and education left unexplored throughout much of this website, this article, posted to scienceblog.com, discusses the benefits of technology in classrooms for students with autism.
In this particular example, four experimental schools in the UK were equipped with a program called ECHOES that students interact directly with through a touch screen. The teachers at this school have found that the use of ECHOES has drawn some of their most secluded autistic students out of their shells and encouraged them to communicate in ways that the teachers had never seen before. As the teachers “watched children with autism playing with the images on the screen in ways in which none of the typically developing children had done” they realized that “the normal curriculum that [they] were offering just wasn’t allowing [the students] to demonstrate these [communicative and interpersonal] skills to [the teachers].”
Because of their unique developmental disorder, children with autism often have difficulty communicating with other people in ways that are effective for individuals without autism. Because typical classroom settings are designed to facilitate the learning and communication of children without these disorders, it comes as no surprise that students with autism struggle to thrive in these environments. It’s for this reason that technologies like ECHOES are so helpful for teachers trying to reach autistic students, who “often find computers and technology safe, motivating and engaging, particularly in the areas of social interaction and communication.”
ECHOES works by allowing students to interact with virtual characters, thereby improving their social skills. I wonder if you have any other ideas of how technology could be manipulated in the classroom to better reach students who have difficulty learning in traditional classroom settings.