Pupils with SEN (Special Educational Needs), disabilities or other challenges require a specialised support system to effectively manage and overcome the barriers to learning caused by their condition or circumstances. Information and communication technologies (ICT) have been recognised as key technologies that can enrich and enhance learning experiences by providing students with access to a greater range of educational activities, games and tools.
Enhancing student engagement
ICT systems and the software within them can provide the benefit of gamification. Students will interact in an activity or game and can be rewarded for giving correct answers with visual clues, sound clues, points or stars that can motivate them to continue.
If a teacher is looking after multiple students in the class, it can often be hard for them to be attentive to just one student. If they are entertained and engaged in the tasks in front of them, receiving regular in-app rewards, can empower them with more independence and autonomy in their learning and the teacher can then widen their attention across the whole class with more ease.
This can be particularly useful for students on the autism spectrum, who might respond more enthusiastically to visually stimulating in-game rewards. If teachers see that this reward system is working well for one student, they can set them up with further apps that use this system to nurture and enhance their learning.
Bridging the gaps
While there are excellent software and hardware solutions being implemented in schools to support the successful delivery of curriculums, there can still be an element of resistance. Some teachers that have been in education for many years, and are used to physical textbooks, for instance, might not yet trust technology in an education setting.
Perhaps they have not seen SEN software in action, and don’t understand its potential for student engagement. With the right information and training, this can be overcome.
Another gap that was discovered during the pandemic was the lack of remote learning opportunities available for SEN students. Mainstream schools could send students home with the necessary tools for remote learning. This is still yet to be facilitated in SEN schools, as without the highly trained teacher physically present and supporting, some students will feel less engaged and motivated in their learning.
The gap is likely to be filled further into the future when video conferencing technology and remote device control becomes SEN school-friendly. This could allow the teacher to control the student’s device from a remote location and talk them through the curriculum, just as they would if they were in the same classroom together. There is still some work to be done to make this a reality, and much of this work would rely on a bigger budget and expert training.
How can AzteQ Group help?
With 18 years of working in the education sector, our team understands that developing an ICT solution that is fit for purpose can be challenging due to limited resources and budget limitations. This is why our ‘people first, technology second’ is important as it ensures that the specific needs of the SEN school, its staff and students are considered before creating an implementation roadmap. This ‘people first’ philosophy is further demonstrated through the ongoing maintenance support we provide where our onsite engineers’ are not only fully trained to resolve any technical issues but will take into consideration and be empathetic to the often-challenging environment within SEN schools.
This isn’t about technology for technology sake – no technology will ever be installed that is too expensive, too complicated, or will degrade over time. It must perfectly fit with the needs of the students and teaching staff – only then will the school be able to truly embrace ICT and consider it an integral part of student engagement.