Integrating Information Communication Technology (ICT): Making the Curriculum more Accessible to All?

Secondary Schools in Ireland are inclusive with a mix of students with diverse abilities in the classroom, including special needs students with learning and literacy difficulties, such as dyslexia. This poses a strong challenge: how to create inclusive curricula and materials that cater to the needs of diverse students?

The objective of this research is to investigate whether integrating ICT into the curriculum can produce inclusive curricula that cater to the needs of all students (with and without learning difficulties). The research focuses on dyslexic students and students with literacy difficulties, the Junior Certificate (JC) curriculum and specifically on English and History.

The research method is action research-based and includes an extensive literature review (Special Education, ICT in Education and teacher/student needs), qualitative surveys of student experience of the curricula and materials, teachers’ opinions of the teaching methods employed and the impact of ICT on the curricula and materials. An analysis of language complexity, content and teaching methods in the chosen JC materials, with a focus on their suitability for dyslexic students and students with literacy difficulties, was carried out. The use of generic ICT tools (e.g. word processors, speech tools) to enhance curricula and the use of externally available curriculum-focused ICT materials (e.g. Teachnet, Scoilnet) were evaluated. Custom targeted, ICT curriculum-focused materials were developed, implemented and evaluated (e.g. using Clicker).

The research shows that (i) JC teachers and students are using ICT resources but there is a lack of curriculum-focused materials which cater to the needs of diverse students; (ii) the JC curricula and materials in question can profit from a more multi-modal and curriculum-focused approach to appeal to all students.