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9 Questions to Consider When Choosing an Edtech Solution for Your Special Education Program

9 Questions to Consider When Choosing an Edtech Solution for Your Special Education Program

Special education students have a wide range of unique needs and abilities that require intentional accommodations and modifications, often outlined in their IEPs. Choosing the right program can provide meaningful insights into your learners’ strengths, weaknesses, and knowledge gaps and can help you provide effective and individualized instruction.

Ensure that you choose the right program for students by considering the following questions:

  1. Is the program user-friendly for your educators?

If a program is not user-friendly for educators, it will be difficult to create buy-in. Make sure that the program has well-organized materials, course plans, and enrollment tools. Colorful buttons with friendly and familiar icons to support easy navigation are a plus, and an easy login process (single sign-on if possible!) that helps students get started quickly and make the most of precious class time is key. Teachers have such influence on student achievement—programs should be chosen that can help lighten teacher workload.

  1. Does the program offer student performance reports to assist teachers in developing tailored instruction plans?

Teachers use student assessments to help guide their lesson planning and class structure. The right program will include reports that are easily accessible for teachers so that they’re able to individualize instruction as needed. This data shouldn’t just be available a few times a year after a big test is completed either. Look for a program that will evaluate long-term performance and growth, as well as daily usage and progress. Using formative assessment data to guide learning can be beneficial for everyone involved.

  1. Is the program aligned to state standards?

This one seems like a no-brainer, but it is of utmost importance. You’ll need to verify that the program has clear performance objectives that match state standards and has measures of progress built in to demonstrate that students are reaching these objectives. Because academic standards have changed and evolved over the years, it’s key to make sure that the program is up to date in this area. If you find programs that will even go a level deeper to the uncover the fundamental skills that make up standards, you’ll be able to offer even more targeted support to ensure that students understand the underlying building blocks required to meet all parts of a given standard.

  1. Does the program have an individualized curriculum that is relevant for students with a range of needs?

A curriculum that is individualized and meets students where they are ready to start learning is an important feature to look for here. Finding a program that implements adaptive technology or self-pacing is ideal in making sure that all students are working on a curriculum that is appropriate and tailored to their needs. This helps to ensure that students won’t become frustrated working on something they already know or, on the other hand, become stuck struggling in a consistent loop of failure. When students do show signs of struggle, look for a program that offers intentional instruction, immediate teacher notifications, and of course, built-in help to automate initial remediation.

  1. Is the curriculum engaging, visually appealing, and age-appropriate?

While it’s important to make sure that the program appeals to your teachers, a successful program also needs to engage students. For example, some programs include a progress bar or award students with ribbons along the way to help motivate them to keep moving forward. Look for programs that use gamification or even incorporate cutting-edge technology like virtual reality to keep students interested, motivated, and on track in their learning plans.  

  1. Can the program be customized depending on a student’s individualized education program?

Seek out programs that let your teachers customize every student’s experience with the content and instruction that is the best fit for their unique needs. Many programs let teachers make accommodations and modifications that adhere to what is outlined in a student’s IEP. Some modifications available to teachers within a program can include: setting specific mastery goals, utilizing dictionary or calculator tools, reducing the number of answer choices, enabling text-to-speech functions, or selecting printable practice and activities.

  1. Does the program provide easily shareable data to support regular feedback with students and parents?

Data study is important for teachers in order to customize the learning experience, but it’s equally meaningful for students. The ability for students to measure their own progress is valuable to the learning process and helps them take ownership. Look for programs that include easy-to-read reports that can be shared with students and their parents at regular conferences. Some programs even offer the ability to easily communicate with parents by sending regular progress reports home via email. Develop best practices to help students analyze their own data to ensure success.

  1. Can the program engage different learning styles?

No two students learn in the same way or at the same time. It’s important to find a program that appeals to a wide variety of students and their diverse needs. Look for programs that offer multiple options for students in regard to how they learn new concepts and demonstrate their understanding. Consider implementing various differentiation strategies to support students in your special education program.

  1. Does the curriculum have real-life applications?

A curriculum paired with real-world applications can help keep students engaged and interested in learning. It’s important to find a program based around high-quality, relevant, and engaging curriculum that also relates concepts to day-to-day situations and incorporates career skills and pathways. Look for programs that incorporate teacher feedback into their curriculum design, as this is an important feature.

Interested in learning more about how Edmentum’s online programs can support your special education students? Check out our proven interventions for diverse student populations!