As part of growing up we are taught how to become fluent in language. We are taught the basics like being able to read and write where we can develop skills to be able to communicate and have conversations with others in everyday life. We are constantly learning and developing new skills, knowledge and techniques to make connections and better understand the world in which we live. Fluent refers to being flexible, accurate, and efficient (Spencer, 2015). Students will need to use the basic technology skills taught to explore new programs and extend on this foundation skills.
Research has shown that students with disabilities are at greater risk of being victims of bullying and harassment. This risk also extends to online environments such as texting and social networking sites (Kowalski & Fidena, 2011). The difficulty students with disabilities have with complex social skills, decision-making and problem solving potentially compounds their online risks. (Center for Technology Implementation, 2014). “Most risks fall into the following categories: peer-to-peer; inappropriate content; lack of understanding of online privacy issues; and outside influences of third-party advertising groups”(OKeefe et Alt., 2011, p. 809).
Students benefit from specific instruction and repeated practice in safely accessing the internet as well as understanding the responsibilities associated with online communities (Ash, 2009). Instruction should be concrete, systematic and multimodal — students must engage with new literacies as they learn about them!
Facebook is the most popular and frequently used social media platform among teens — 71% of online teens use Facebook and 44% report that they follow it daily (Lenhart, 2015). According to a study by Shpigelman and Gill (2014), people with disabilities who have online access use social networking sites such as Facebook as often as nondisabled peers and engage in similar online activities as the general public.
It has been established that individuals with disabilities, especially ASD and cognitive impairments, possess skill deficits that directly affect their ability to successfully and safely interact within social networking sites such as Facebook (Shpigelman & Gill, 2014). Students who are deficient in reading and writing will struggle with new literacies. They require explicit instruction as well as a safe way to practice the skills. With this in mind, teachers can use Seesaw as a hands-on medium to teach personal safety and social skills.
As teachers we can create opportunities to explore new programs while in the classroom, providing them a space to ask questions, take calculated risks, work collaboratively and explore on their own to cultivate their digital fluency.
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Kowalski, R. M., & Fedina, C. (2011). Cyber bullying in ADHD and Asperger Syndrome
populations. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5(3), 1201–1208.
Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, social media & technology overview 2015. Retrieved from
O’Keeffe, G. S.,et alt. (2011). The impact of social media on children, adolescents. Retrieved
Shpigelman, C., & Gill, C. J. (2014). Facebook use by persons with disabilities. J Comput-
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