When talking about digital transformation in education, we refer to the use of ICT(information and communication technology) as a powerful tool in inclusive education. These tools have been proved to be of a great impact, more specifically, on students with special needs. These students face challenges daily, so their life quality has been improved from the development and use of these tools in education.
Enrico Fulchigoni said that “today we live in the image civilization”, as children are surrounded by it since the moment they are born. Children build their very first knowledge from the images coming from the media (are cartoons, movies, publicity, pictures…) that is why it is said ICT are changing our personal and professional life, since, they are part of our daily life and, so that, they should be present in the early years of education.
This tendency has been reflected not only when using videos as an educational tool, but also, tablets and virtual reality are part of the new educational methodologies. These tools allow teachers to connect with students, who life in the “digital era”.
ICT are powerful tools as they motivate students, change monotony and, most importantly, they function as an inclusive tool for students with special needs. This has been manifested, specially, in the last years as a consequence of COVID-19, which obliged us to change methodologies and take the pedagogical work to each students’ home through the digitalization of contents.
ICT not only have countless benefits for student such as new languages, ways of learning, social relationships, access to different resources, easier communication… but also, ICT can have some disadvantages such as forgetting the educational value, reducing them to simple entertainments, not favoring creativity, health problems like obesity, sedentary lifestyle…
Taking into account what has been analysed above, we would like to focused on the role ICT play regarding students with special needs and how they can work as an inclusive tool.
Firstly, it will be analysed what inclusive education means, being this a goal to be achieved by all students regardless of their background and context. Therefore, inclusion is the best way to address student diversity, as it forces us to rethink both practices and pedagogical contexts. Secondly, ICT advantages and disadvantages in working with students with special needs will be addressed, in order to build a pedagogical culture that helps us on the path of inclusion.
What do we understand by inclusive education?
The term inclusive education involves education in general, promoting the idea that schools must be for every girl and boy regardless of their differences and characteristics. Education must be seen as a constant search for better ways to respond to students’ diversity, as well as, learning how to live with these differences and, at the same time, how we can take advantages of them.
So, when talking about inclusive education, we talk about an education able to respond to a philosophical, social, economic, cultural, political and pedagogical approach which pursues the acceptance of students’ differences.
Thus, it is important to highlight that students with special needs integration in society and schools, in order to be as successful as possible, needs to be gradual and all actor in the educational community should be involved.
So that, teachers’ pedagogical strategy should be reformulated in order to achieve:
- An educational culture where every student is being an active participant.
- Answers for the educative needs coming from students with barriers in education and participation in diverse contexts.
- Promotion of multiple alphabetization
- Constructive learning
- To give value to all students’ capacities
Advantages and disadvantages in the use of ICT for students with special needs
Over the years, the use of ICT has improved, letting us affirm that their use makes easier the relation special needs students have with their environment, enhancing their social, emotional, affective and professional quality life. Between the multiple ICT advantages, we can highlight:
- ICT help to overcome limitations from cognitive, sensory and physical disabilities
- ICT enhance students’ autonomy, as these tolls can be adapted to any need and they can be personalized
- ICT enhance communication between students with special needs with other students and teachers
- ICT allow students to acquire skills faster
- ICT allows a better diagnosis of students needs
- ICT provides a multisensorial communication
- ICT facilitate social and professional insertion
- ICT provides social meetings
- ICT lessen the sense of academic and personal failure
Regarding some disadvantages when using ICT for students with special needs inclusion, we can distinguish:
- The hight economic cost, which makes not possible to provide to all students who need them. Moreover, the rapid advance of technology, often makes them outdated in short period of time.
- Professionals’ lack of knowledge and preparation
- Inappropriate use of ICT which can lead to passivity is students, lack of imagination, intolerance, individualism
In conclusion, we can see that there are more advantages than disadvantages, but if we want to benefit from the advantages, we need to make sure that as well as professionals as the system are involve in the use of ICT as a tool for inclusion. It is necessary to train teachers in this field and change methodologies and practices in the system to achieve an inclusive educative system for all student regardless of their differences.
Cabero, J., y Fernández, J. (2007). Las TIC para la igualdad. Sevilla: Publidisa
M.Rodríguez Correa y M.J. Arroyo González Digital EducationReview – Number 25, June, 2014- http://greav.ub.edu/der/
Daniel Zappalá, Andrea Köppel y Miriam Suchodolsk (2011). Inclusión de tic en escuelas para alumnos con discapacidad intelectual. ISBN: 978-950-00-0876-1
Antonio espínolajiménez (2020). Educación inclusiva e igualdad de las personas con discapacidad en la transformación digital. Revistajurídicavalenciananúm. 35, año 2020, págs. 1-13