Integrating interactive technology into a community skills curriculum
Matzko, Michael J
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The purpose of this study was to explore how videotapes and interactive multimedia software developed to teach community-based skills to students with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities could be integrated into a special education classroom. The research questions focused on two areas: 1) Generating findings to contribute to the existing literature on implementing computer-based training applications for teaching community-based skills to individuals with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities; and 2) uncovering specific patterns of use of the materials by teachers and their students. A design experiment methodology was used. The setting for this study was two special education classrooms in the southeastern United States. Teachers and students in those classrooms were the participants. Data were collected through interviews and observations. This study identified features of computer-based instruction that are effective when working with exceptional students. These included detailed database tracking features, a means for allowing teachers or facilitators to modify task and activity difficulty and allowing teachers options in controlling various factors of content presentation and assessment. Methods of using computer-based instruction effectively to teach community-based skills were identified, for example, combining a computer-based activity on paying for groceries with a simulated classroom activity in which students practice using real money to pay for groceries. In addition, guidelines for facilitating student use of computer-based instruction were developed based on the findings. These involved using a combination of methods of prompting such as system of least prompts and constant time delay with prompting features afforded by the program. A theory of facilitation emerged to explain how teachers should work with students in partnership with the computer in order for the student to learn from the computer-based materials most effectively.