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Aragon Health Sciences Institute. She is also an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Zaragoza. Maria Jesus Cardoso Moreno, PhD, is professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Zaragoza. She is also a researcher in the Aragon Psychodermatology Research Group, which is partnered by the Aragon Health Sciences Institute. Activity Summary
ICT tools offer the world of education learning resources, communication channels and the possibility of developing the attention, concentration and motivation of the student. They also give the teacher more classroom options and a greater variety of didactic models for attending to diversity that can consider the learning styles of the students. Class or subject area: ICT and classroom diversity Grade level(s): Primary School Specific learning objectives: • ICTs and attention to diversity • The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in approaches to diversity • Student characteristics and ICTs • The digital classroom and digital teaching • The interactive chalkboard • Teacher support
Anniversary Book Project
ICTs And Classroom Diversity
From Time In - Teaching Social Skills in the Classroom
By: Maria Moreno and Lucia Tomas-Aragones Creative Commons License: CC BY Author contact: email@example.com
1. ICTs and attention to diversity 1.1. What is diversity and why is it important? The term diversity is much wider ranging than simply speaking of individuals with disabilities; it is much more than a concept of special educational needs (SEN). Diversity, for example, can be understood as: • Personal diversity: we are all different. • Diversity of academic performance. • Diversity of learning skills and sociocultural factors (imagination, poverty etc.). • Diversity due to psycho-cognitive and physical limitations. • Cultural diversity. In short, the aim is to foster scholastic inclusion, paying attention to: • Interculturalism. • Gifted children (students with exceptional learning capacities). • Curricular diversification. • Conflict prevention and management. • Compensatory education. 1.2. Special Educational Needs (SEN) Special Educational Needs (SEN) is an area of education concerned with physical and psychological disabilities that can be defined as follows: • Difficulty: loss or abnormality of a psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function. • Deficiency: limitation or absence (caused by a difficulty) of ability to undertake an activity • Disability: as a consequence of a difficulty or deficiency, the development of a person’s habitual roles is limited or impeded and they are therefore disadvantaged. 1.3. Basic skills and difficulties The elements of the curriculum must consider: the characteristics (cognitive, experiential, motivational, attitudinal etc.) of the students; their educational stage; learning styles; the range of contents; implication in activities and the different forms of action in the process of evaluation. The aim is, that given a minimum level of indispensible knowledge and their interests, students are able to deepen their understanding of specific areas of the subject. Transversal skills that should be acquired by the student are: • Personal skills: critical thought, recognition of diversity and multiculturalism etc. • Social skills: teamwork etc. • Instrumental skills: oral and written communication, efficient and effective use of ICTs etc. • Systematic skills: self-learning etc. The consideration of basic skills as an educational cornerstone has enormous repercussions when designing measures for dealing with diversity and must focus on such questions as How can we ensure that students achieve basic skills levels and to what extent is this possible, in spite of their circumstances?
2. The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in approaches to diversity It is clear that an approach to a problem as wide ranging and complex as SEN and classroom diversity requires the implication of a variety of actors (administrators, parents, educational psychologists etc.). This section analyses the use that can be made of ICTs as tools available to the teacher that must be correctly integrated into a general plan of action aimed at dealing with classroom diversity. One of the guiding principles of special educational needs is the use of methodologies that foster individualised teaching and learning processes, whilst, at the same time, taking advantage of circumstances that encourage conjoint working practices. From a learning perspective, an advantage of the employment of ICTs is that they allow the teacher to follow an individualised approach to diversity. Interactive didactic materials (on disc or on-line) mean that the students’ tasks can be individualised: working with a computer permits adaptation to the student’s previous knowledge and rhythm of learning. PCs are ideal tools for supplementary and revision activities in which the student can control and assess their own work. ICTs can be used for: • Tutoring. • Communicating with students. • Learning and using new languages to analyse and evaluate reality and therefore increase the student’s knowledge. • Accessing information, communicating with students, teachers and other educational centres. ICTs provide the teacher with an inexhaustible fund of classroom resources (didactic materials, informative documents, cyberspace working environments etc.) that can be used in approaching diversity and for creating more personalised education. This requires the teacher to have knowledge of the existence of these resources, their possibilities and to understand how to select the right resource for each ‘digitally didactic’ circumstance. 2.1. ICTs and diversity Attention to diversity, disability (or “functional diversity”) and access to ICT resources etc. must be present in any debate on ICTs and education. ICTs provide a multitude of functionalities to students with disabilities or those that require special attention as they facilitate: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Communication. Accessing/processing information. Cognitive development. All types of learning and learning processes. Adaptation and autonomy. Leisure activities. Gaining knowledge of tools that leads to undertaking activities related to the world of work.
ICT tools offer the world of education learning resources, communication channels and the possibility of developing the attention, concentration and motivation of the student. They also give the teacher
more classroom options and a greater variety of didactic models for attending to diversity that can consider the learning styles of the students. 2.2. Student characteristics and ICTs Students of today’s society can be characterised by: • Their preference for digital information, especially with regards to images, video, music etc. • Their ability to undertake a number of tasks simultaneously. • The fact that they generate knowledge from discontinuous (non-linear) information. So, how do ICTs help the teacher approach diversity? What examples of good practices can we refer to? What is required to achieve objectives? In order to confront the challenges posed by diversity in the modern education system, staff must be capable of contributing to educational innovation and the development of efficient and effective didactic models. Contemporary society demands changes in the world of education; educational professionals have innumerable reasons to take advantage of the possibilities inherent in ICTs and lead a transformation towards a new, more personalised educational paradigm that focuses on the activities of the students. In addition to the digital alphabetisation of the students and the utilisation of ICTs for improving general productivity, the high rate of school underachievement (poor levels of linguistic and numeracy skills etc.) and the growing multiculturalism of society (with the consequent increase in student diversity) are powerful reasons for making use of the possibilities of methodological innovation offered by ICTs for the creation of a more effective and inclusive school environment. 2.3. Considerations The current education system is inclusive and unequivocally contemplates diversity as a value to be fostered. Nevertheless, the use of ICTs is still far from generalised and ICTs are not seen as valuable school resources for approaching diversity in the classroom. The use of ICTs is fundamental in the new social and technological context. Significant educational theories, the development of potential and attention to diversity are just some of the areas of work that are facilitated by the utilisation of ICTs. Furthermore, it is vital that digital and technological skills are learnt by students as they can condition the rest of their lives. The main problem that the teacher faces when designing ICT classroom activities (basically, the search and creation of content and information) is the lack of student knowledge, not just in relation to the use of ICTs but also the lack of skills with regards to synthesising, summarising, schematisation, self-evaluation etc. Changes are produced in all facets of teaching and learning; for example, in the process of student evaluation (assessment through project work and class participation) - the employment of ICTs spontaneously leads to the search for alternatives to traditional exams as the methodology of evaluation and assessment. Evaluation takes on a new meaning with ICTs; if the student is allowed to take advantage of the advice of the teacher and collaborate in the evaluation process then an important objective can be achieved: the integration of evaluation into the learning process (not a separate procedure, as is currently the case).
3. The digital classroom and digital teaching One of the ways that the use of ICTs can produce significant changes in the classroom dynamic is through the use of websites and interactive media (groups, forums, blogs, virtual classrooms, presentations, videos etc.) as supplementary materials for classroom activities. All that is required is an adequate technological infrastructure. The infrastructure that is often referred to as the ‘digital chalkboard’ comprises the following elements: • A multimedia computer with CD-ROM (or DVD), speakers and microphone. • Internet access. • A computer TV connection. • A projector. • A colour printer. • Optionally, a webcam offers the possibility of videoconferencing and digitalising photos or images of objects. • Additionally, a video camera that can be connected to the projector can be utilised for showing recordings of television programmes of didactic interest. This infrastructure opens up infinite, innovative didactic possibilities. Teachers can use websites and other digital material to support and illustrate their explanations, through images, schemes, virtual simulations, videos, the mass media, company presentations, stories, games and the use of CDROM, DVD and TV programmes. The enormous variety of multimedia resources can stimulate the interests of the students, maintain their attentions, increase the possibilities of relating to their personal interests and aid approaches to diversity. Moreover, the infrastructure can be used to publicly present the group work of the students (collaborative research projects, sharing ideas, negotiating meaning, developing social skills, increasing knowledge, designing presentations etc.). The presentation of projects is a practical methodology for expression and communication skills. 3.1. The interactive chalkboard By means of a text editor and digital chalkboard, the teacher is able to project all kinds of information through the use of the keyboard (definitions, schematics, operations etc.), as if it were a conventional chalkboard; it can also be used for conjoint classroom synthesis activities. In addition to avoiding the use of chalk or whiteboard markers (the teacher writes with the keyboard), there are unlimited colours, images and texts can be adapted or altered and the content can be saved (the text editor file option) on disc and used in later classes (for review or with another group of students). Texts may also be sent by email to students that were unable to attend the class, and, of course, the information can be printed and distributed (on paper) to the students. The technological environment offers an infrastructure for the application of a series of models oriented to the didactic use of ICTs, for all educational levels and subjects. In the subject of interest here, for example, the teacher can: • Review and comment on the press, as a class exercise (debates on conflicts, make judgements and explicate values, consider multicultural diversity).
Design ‘made-to-measure’ exercises of extension, reinforcement and evaluation (as approaches to diversity).
3.2. Some examples of available tools Among the many tools available for the generation of multimedia activities, materials and resources, some examples are listed below: Clic: free software that allows the preparation of educational programmes; it has an enormous community of users that offer examples of teaching resources and share experiences. NeoBook: one of the most popular tools for producing electronic books. Authorware: the hierarchical architectural structure of the programme offers a myriad of possibilities. Hot Potatoes: used for drawing up questionnaires and evaluation tests. Power Point: for multimedia presentations. Blogs: can be used individually or collectively for the diffusion of texts, articles, files etc. 3.3. Teacher support There are a number of factors that condition the integration of ICTs into educational centres, the most important of these is the teaching staff. Training and motivation are fundamental for innovation in the education system. The teaching staff must possess the skills required for the use of Internet programmes and resources; above all, they need to acquire skills for the didactic utilisation of the new medium and knowledge of the new teaching roles. The new instruments and educational materials available allow a more tailored approach to diversity with the application of more interactive methodologies and innovative evaluation techniques based on continual assessment. 4. Conclusions The use of ICTs in the classroom will enable students to reach a high degree of personal autonomy and improve their social relationships. ICTs can foster the global development of the personality and cognitive capacities of the child. The employment of these new tools and resources can encourage cognitive processes such as attention span, perception, memory and motivation for learning. ICT’s are an invaluable resource for education in contemporary society and the use of the computer as a learning tool supposes an enormous range of possibilities that must be explored and developed by educationalists and teachers.
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