boosting young children's writing skills with e-learning designed for dyslexics
Since the consent to the Salamanca Statement on special needs education from 1994, e-learning developers have focused on tools aimed to support dyslexic learners. The importance of these efforts is on display every year in the Special Aids exhibition area at the BETT-event in London. ICT and e-learning is now widely used in the special needs education for dyslexics. However, the Salamanca Statement also inspired the vision of The Spacious School and the idea that children with learning disabilities should be transferred from special classes and included in the ordinary classes in primary schools. In the beginning of this process, the children with special needs were present in the classroom with their compensational aid, e.g. e-learning, ICT and special teacher support, and they were rarely included in the socially organised learning activities. Consequently, class teachers and subject teachers were not aware of the existence and potentials of the special compensational e-learning and ICT tools. In recent years in Denmark, ICT has changed from being present in schools to becoming an available, everyday resource. That is, ICT and computers move out of the computer rooms and into every school room. I.e. most pupils use ICT, e-learning and computers in various contexts whenever it seems convenient. The increasing use of ICT in schools has paved the way for new ways of including the children with special educational needs and while knowledge of dyslexic compensational e-learning and ICT tools was earlier restricted to the special teachers, teachers in general have now become aware of the existence of these tools. Within the frame of a large scale research project in primary schools in Denmark (Project IT and Learning - PIL), this change of awareness led to teacher-initiated experiments with the Danish e-learning special needs-software CD Ord in first and second grades. The teachers wanted to see whether these tools could inspire normal children as well as children with special educational needs to start writing their own stories. The paper presents the research findings from the empirical studies of experiments in Second grade. The paper concludes that most children in the experiments wrote longer and more complex stories than normally expected from this age-group. The children with a visual learning style in particular demonstrated a significant progress.
Electronic Journal of E-learning, 2008, Vol 6, Issue 3, p. 227-235