Four Ways Digital Learning Platforms Can Empower Students on IEP’s

Four Ways Digital Learning Platforms Can Empower Students on IEPs
Utilizing technology to enhance the academic achievement of students with disabilities

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 13% of students in public schools are on IEPs. As more schools adopt integrated classrooms, many general education teachers are seeing a higher proportion of students on IEPs in their classrooms, in addition to other students with unique learning needs. Decades of research indicates this mainstreaming boosts student achievement for all learners, however, one of the greatest challenges of promoting success for all learners in an integrated environment is providing rigorous, differentiated materials. Fortunately, as the population of students with diverse learning needs has increased, so has the access to online systems like the PlayPosit platform. Including PlayPosit’s interactive video lessons within one’s existing curriculum can provide additional differentiation, maximize teacher time, and enhance data-driven instructional practices.

1. Student-Centered Pacing
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Online platforms allow students to work at their own pace, offering them their own timeline to absorb information. For those needing breaks or extra processing time, digital platforms can offer freedom from the constraints of a traditional class schedule. Students needing repetition can replay content as needed to fully comprehend new content. PlayPosit’s design gives teachers the ability to determine the pace and frequency of questions embedded within lessons, helping them tailor timing to maximize student achievement. Question breaks can be used to reinforce content and provide natural pauses between challenging concepts, allowing for reflection. Unlike a conventional lesson, students are able to pause and resume their lessons without losing their progress, an ideal modification for those who struggle with focus or frustration. This autonomy gives students more control over their own learning and builds their confidence.

2. Interactive Engagement
Videos can be captivating for students who have spent their lives surrounded by screens. Short videos with interspersed questions can offer students with limited attention spans the instant feedback and gratification they need. Instantly seeing whether they’re successful or struggling can motivate them to maintain their focus. The videos also offer content through a visual medium in a way that whiteboards or paper can’t capture. Students get to see concepts illuminated through animation and audio clips. In fact, research suggests that videos can be used to maximize instructional time by using both the auditory/verbal and visual/pictorial components of working memory simultaneously. Furthermore, clicking and typing meet students’ need for kinesthetic feedback in novel way, enhancing mastery of challenging concepts.

3. Promoting Technological Awareness
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Having students work through lessons in a safe, teacher-created web environment can increase their computer skills and bolster their efficacy as twenty-first century learners. Allowing students to type short answers during an activity can offer them an authentic space to practice their keyboarding skills. Manipulating videos and answers helps students become more confident using technology, staving off anxiety during computer-based testing. For those without Internet access at home, this exposure can be valuable to creating digital literacy. Preparing our students for the future means mirroring the digital world they will be working and living in and PlayPosit’s platform helps build essential computer skills.

4. Real Time Data
One of the challenges for teachers with large classes or caseloads is consistently tracking IEP goals and mastery of standards. The PlayPosit system allows teachers to see trends within students’, groups, or classes, and adjust instruction as needed. This can help teachers identify and target gaps, addressing students’ biggest weaknesses. It also offers a clean way for teachers to extract performance data when drafting IEPs or progress reports. A teacher could add a weekly IEP goal question to any video lesson and have instant feedback on students’ performances. Instead of gathering and inputting data throughout the quarter, the teacher has an evolving report of a student’s performance at their fingertips, ready to be pasted into a progress report. Similarly, this readily available performance data can be crucial to informing the multidisciplinary team’s decisions regarding RTI tiers and special education evaluations.

(*ADDED BONUS*) 5. Community

One of the greatest benefits of Internet access is the ability to reach others in seconds. Collaboration within a school community can greatly improve student outcomes and maximize planning sessions, something that is amplified by digital communication. Within the PlayPosit system, teachers can search a premade library where other teachers share their videos and bulbs. You can even search by grade, content or standards. By doing this, teachers share best practices for meeting diverse learning needs, and offer broader perspectives on leading students to achievement.

The benefits of using interactive videos as a component of your instructional practices are clear. Adding PlayPosit activities to your classroom can help students with IEPs thrive by offering individualized pacing, engaging content, practice with technology, data tracking, and a collaborative community. Some teachers may feel intimidated by technology, or feel like they do not have enough time to add platforms like PlayPosit into their busy schedules.  One does not need to overhaul their entire curriculum to see the benefits of this interactive content. Simply start by adding one or two video activities a week, which can take as little as ten minutes of class time. You can easily create your own video, and questions to existing videos, or choose from a plethora of pre-created bulbs. As you see results, you’ll want to incorporate videos into even more lessons. Now is the time to lead your students to greater growth by expanding their access to the resources that only technology can provide.