As technology continues to become an integral part of everyday life, the consideration of how to use technology in education and what technologies and formats to use in classrooms continues to be debated. Questions continue to be raised on the appropriate role of social media not only in higher education, but in elementary, middle, and high schools as well. The debate also includes the role that using technology and social media should play in special education.
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Benefits of Social Media in Special Education
One area that special education teachers use social media for is students with autism. Some experts believe that social media is an effective method for improving the socialization skills of students from all ranges of the autism spectrum. Sites such as Habbo.com and Club Penguin provide heavily monitored and filtered social interaction, and depending on development and age level, these could be appropriate to utilize in special education classrooms.
For high school students, social media sites such ad Edmodo are helpful in learning to use appropriate language and communication skills while online. Because many everyday activities take place online, it can be argued that this is an essential skill for special education students to have exposure to while in supervised and in school. Examples include the ability to job search and post portfolios or resumes, and building skills with computers. One of the main goals of every educator in special education is to provide students with the same tools they will need to be successful in life, and appropriately using social media is one of these skills.
Social media also fosters the ability to collaborate, and instant feedback on ideas, pictures, and projects that are posted via social media can help all students, including those with special needs or developmental disabilities, to gain more confidence.
Outside of the Classroom
Social media sites such as Twiducate, a social media site specifically designed for use in education, also allow educators to stay in touch with parents and students outside of school hours, providing better access for parents to track progress and stay in touch with what their children are doing in school.
One of the biggest challenges in any classroom is meeting the diverse needs of students, and this can be especially true in special education classes. Facebook and other educational social media sites have additional resources and applications can be added to supplement learning in school as well. Teachers can assess additional student needs and add the applications that will be most beneficial for each student to practice additional math, reading, or socialization skills.
Social media can also provide benefits in the field of special education through teacher resources. Networking and sharing ideas are beneficial for all teachers at all levels of education, and PCI Education and the We Are Teachers network developed a forum specifically for special education to interact and use forums and blogs to learn new ideas for special education classrooms. Webinars and other tools are also available to special education teachers through the site.
Additional information on using technology and social media in special education classrooms can be found at http://www.emergingedtech.com/category/special-needs-students/.