Incorporating Technology into Tutoring for Special Education Students

Assistive technology, when incorporated with online tutoring, can help students with special education needs meet academic goals..

What has long been an established item in mainstream classrooms – the use of technology in teaching – is gradually seeping into special education tutoring at home, too. The long held view that students with special needs would not be able to cope with online tutoring or using online learning aids has thankfully been proven wrong.

Technology can benefit a whole range of students, irrespective of their abilities, disorders or challenging behavior. Used imaginatively, parents, tutors and students can make technology work for them very effectively.

From strengthen awareness to simple life skills – make technology work for you

At the PACER Center and at FCTD (Family Center on Technology and Disability), students and parents can share for free in a fully-captioned assistive technology awareness series of videos, aptly named AT in Action. The videos are designed to improve awareness of assistive technology devices that can support students with disabilities, helping them to thrive at their own pace in their special education tutoring programs at home, at school and in their communities.

There is information on technology devices that help younger children with communication, learning and mobility issues and details on clever devices that enable students with fine motor and learning disabilities to use computer tablets as part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP). FCTD provides a free fact sheet for parents (in English and Spanish).

FCTD and Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIC) across the country offer information on assistive and instrumental technology resources for children with special needs or disabilities.

Incorporating Technology into Focused Learning Stations at Home

Parents whose children receive special education tutoring at home should discuss with their tutor and their child how technology – assistive or mainstream – can be built into their mini work environments or work stations. Simple tablets for example make use of a child’s natural curiosity to explore, to touch, play and to delight in bright colors.

It is important to encourage children with special needs to develop a love of learning and education. Allowing children to have  input in the design of their workstations will give them this and a sense of achievement but will also permit them to work at their own pace and level, once their workstation is fully set up.

These can be workstations that meet specific sensory needs in younger children or mini-environments designed for special education tutoring of older students who want to learn and socially interact with other students via the internet as part of their home study program.

Examples of Workstations

Learning through play is very much part of tutoring for special education students and for younger children this means their workstation could include toys and dolls’ clothes to encourage dressing up skills and imagination but also teach life skills such as tidying up after play.

Workstations can also be geared towards specific subjects such as math, using small and larger blocks or different size balls or boxes. Using scales or other forms of measurements, parents and home tutors can encourage exploration of shapes, sizes and weights, while teaching how to count, how to subtract, divide or add at the same time.