Technology for Teaching and Learning

Article excerpt

Technology - we can't live without it but can we live with it?

For almost a century, the Sunday papers have featured a comic about Dick Tracy, a tough detective with a special wristwatch for two-way radio contact with headquarters, a magical device that was the envy of every child (including me) for several generations. Today, we may carry an iPhone, Android, or a Blackberry in our pockets and purses that enables us to interact with anyone, at any time, in any place, in any medium - a reality that surpasses our childhood fantasies. Not only can we communicate but we also can explore, study, work, play, and shop- all accomplished with a tiny tool that fits in the palm of our hand. We also tote lightweight tablet and laptop computers in our briefcases and carryalls with software to generate text, images, and data wherever we go. We use social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to disseminate our newly created digital media quickly and easily to a global community - a development that goes far beyond the cartoonist's vision. In 21st-century homes, schools and communities, our lives have been transformed by these technologies.

In this issue, we explore how special educators employ such technologies, using:

* Desktop conferencing and collaboration software to develop international friendships between students and teachers in Ireland and the United States.

* An electronic whiteboard to assist students with autism spectrum disorders to develop social skills through social stories and self modeling.

* Multimedia slide show software to design individual or group learning activities that enhance motivation for and engagement in academic content.

* Multimedia presentation software to create an electronic word wall to teach students how to read and pronounce new vocabulary words.

* Document production software and web browsers as tools to create and manipulate digital text to support the development of reading skills.

* The animation feature in multimedia presentation software to create attention-getting devices and visual prompts in early literacy lessons for young children.

Although educators have enthusiastically embraced these technologies to support their personal and professional productivity, sadly, according to some recent research, they have been slow to adopt these technologies to enhance student learning. …