Web 2.0 and Learning Disabilities

The benefits of Web 2.0 on the differently-abled classroom.

Traci Kowalewski . traci@email.sc.edu

How does Intellectual Freedom, and access to Web 2.0 tools help children with learning disabilities?

Filters and firewalls can have a profound negative affect on children who are differently-abled, and their ability to learn. Recently, a plethora of Web 2.0 tools designed to aid children who require special accommodations, have been developed. Diane Hill's study shows the use of these tools by children with different needs has been proven to increase learning, participation, focus, memorization, organization, collaboration and social skills. The removal of such tools from a school would inhibit its students, and therefore, the school's productivity.

What does Web 2.0 and Intellectual Freedom Allow Students to Do?

Who benefits from the use of Web 2.0 Tools?

Web 2.0 tools can be beneficial to the average student, but for students with learning disabilities, the implementation of Web 2.0 tools can mean the difference between having Intellectual Freedom, or Web Accessibility, and not. Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis and other Web 2.0 tools provide a great platform to students with learning challenges, per LD Online.

Web 2.0 tools give both teachers and students who may have difficulties with memory and organization, the ability to learn, collaborate and stay organized digitally. Blogs are a great way for students with writing and reading difficulties to overcome challenges. Blogs allow children with different-abilities such as dyslexia, ADHD, and dysgraphia, a better medium with which to write, journal, and tell stories. (Jones, 2012) Students with tactile or sight challenges may choose to use a dictation tool or a screen reader too while blogging, instead of typing, or reading the content themselves.

Wikis allow the same benefits of a blog, plus the ability of others to edit information, which is usually published for reference purposes. Such tasks have been shown to enhance self-esteem, and deplete academic anxiety and depression in students.

Audio/visual Podcasts are a unique tool in that they enable a child to learn on the go, as the digital media may be downloaded to virtually any portable device. Podcasts are especially beneficial to students with auditory processing disorders, as having the ability to see and hear the content over and over again ensures the student a greater chance of understanding, memorization, and most importantly, acquiring all of the information presented.

The Web 2.0 Revolution has given us the ability to bring an unprecedented level of pedagogy and peer collaboration to any classroom. Elona Hartjes, MEd., states that it is imperative that Intellectual Freedom be preserved and schools recognize the importance of allowing students and teachers the use of Web 2.0 mediums, within their walls.
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