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Friday, September 14, 2012

Technology, Customized Learning, and Special Needs Students

Previous posts have discussed the use of computer technology in helping ASD people. Tom Vander Ark writes at Education Week:
A Fordham report suggests the nation can save $10 billion if districts just budget the same way. But the report didn't even consider the digital learning revolution occurring. Continued progress from primary research combined with the potential of customized learning appears to have transformative potential for special education. 
Leading venture funds have launched funds focused on iPad apps for entertainment. Given the identified potential to meet special needs it may be time for a Special Ed App Fund. .. A fund that combined philanthropic and venture capital could be just the bill. If foundations and donors extracted some of the risk, I think we'd see more entrepreneurs and investors turn their attention to meeting special needs. Heading in that direction, the Department's research arm, IES developed the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. Program Manager Edward Metz pointed me to several examples:
Feel Electric teaches kids how to modulate their emotions with a DARPA-funded version for military families.
Federal special education policy may also provide a force for digital education in public education's mainstream, argues Dean Millot, Managing Partner for K-12 at the investment consulting firm Good Harbor Partners. Under the Response to Intervention option, school districts are incentivized to meet the needs of special education students with the same digital technologies that offer mainstream students individualized learning. By this means, the Individual Education Program mandated by law for special needs students could evolve to a standard of individualized learning for every student.