Technology Integration in the Special Education Classroom An Instructional module on using Technology (Virtual Field trips) as a constructivist instructional tool in Special education


This instructional module is designed for the purpose of integrating technology in the special education classroom utilizing Virtual Field Trip (VFT) as a constructivist instructional tool to facilitate students with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) to make connections between classroom learning experiences and real world experiences/ phenomena through observation, experience and exploration of a variety of digital, Internet, and software tools and technologies to facilitate information processing.

Note: Students need to be provided with task modification, Assistive Technology (AT), classroom support and accommodations as determined by their Individual Education Plans (IEPs) of each individual student (Virginia.Gov., 2014) to support learner diversity, multiple intelligences, and accessibility and universal design (UD).

Instructional Objectives

The instructional objectives for this module on through technology integration in the special education classroom are intended to meet the educational needs of students with Specific Learning Disability (SLD) and build necessary skills addressing the learner characteristics and cognitive deficits based on the following standards and guidelines:

  • Computer and technology standards of learning of the state of Virginia (Virginia.Gov., 2015)
  • Earth Sciences standards of learning of the state of Virginia (Virginia.Gov., 2010)
  • Virginia Department of Education Guidelines for Educating Students with Specific Learning Disabilities (Virginia.Gov., 2014),

By completing this instruction module - Integration of Technology in the Special Education Classroom - students will learn,

  1. How to use Skype® in the Classroom virtual field trip feature as a constructivist instructional tool to engage in interactive and collaborative learning
  2. How to engage in reflective learning through observation, exploration and experience through completing the self-reflective questionnaire Virtual Field Trip Record, report writing using Microsoft® Office, peer-review of video presentation through critical feedback and creation of portfolio using Adobe Spark© Spark Page
  3. How to use Inspiration® software to engage in visual learning through creation of concept maps
  4. How to use Microsoft® Office for report writing and word-processing
  5. How to use Piktochart© for info-graphics through creation of digital posters
  6. How to use Adobe Spark© Spark Video feature for visual-audio-kinesthetic (VAK) learning through creating an info-graphic video presentation
  7. How to use Adobe Spark© Spark Page feature for authentic and reflective learning and assessment through creating an e-portfolio page

Instructional Framework

Instructional Strategy

This instructional strategy is designed with the objective to encourage students with specific learning disabilities to engage in active learning using a variety of digital, Internet, and software tools and technologies for the purpose of information processing through observation, exploration and experimentation. The conceptual framework is based on constructivist learning theory: constructivism is a learning theory rooted in learning theories advanced by Dewey (1916), Piaget (1972), Vygotsky (1978) and Bruner (1990), that is defines as, “active construction of new knowledge based on a learner’s prior experience” (Koohang et al., 2009).The Virtual Field Trip (VFT) is utilized as the primary instructional tool.


Pre-instructional Activity 1: A 20-minute instructor-guided whole class open discussion on Dinosaurs and Jurassic Era – the instructor will facilitate the whole class to engage in an open discussion while recording the discussion points on a concept map on the interactive whiteboard demonstrating the use of Inspiration® software.

Pre-instructional Activity 2: Students will then spend 50-minutes creating a concept map on their personal computers, in the form of mind/ cluster diagram, using Inspiration® software Visual Learning feature at .

Pre-instructional Activity 3: Students will also be provided with a 20-minute overview on Skype® in the Classroom – an online educator community – at encouraging the students to engage in further exploration for educational purposes.

Instructional Activities

Lesson Activity 1 (total duration 90-minutes):

Students will participate in a 60-minute-long VFT to “Discover Jurassic Fossils at Dinosaur National Monument” on Skype® in the Classroom (by Microsoft® Educator Community) at

Students will be provided with a 30-minute work sheet titled "Virtual Field Trip Record" (See Appendix) to record their VFT experience in terms of topic or subject matter; observations; explorations; experiences; interesting facts; new vocabulary; favorite experience/ aspect of the VFT and topics/questions for further research.

Lesson Activity 2 (total duration 90-minutes):

The students will engage in 90-minutes of individual learning compiling a report in APA format on their field trip experience using a report writing and word processing software such as Microsoft® Office.The instructor will facilitate the students in using the word processors, formatting, key boarding and report writing techniques.

The APA report should include the following: Cover page (title, name of student, name of instructor), Abstract (summary), Introduction (date, time, setting, participants), Description/discussion (observations, experiences, highlights, what I learned), Conclusions (what is liked and disliked), Further study (what I want to learn more about, questions).

Lesson Activity 3 (total duration 90-minutes):

The instructor will do a short 15-minute overview of the Piktochart©, guiding the whole class on how to use the Printable template options of the web-based info-graphic application Piktochart© at to create a printable and shareable digital poster.

Students will then work individually for 75 minutes using an Internet search engine such as the Internet Explorer® or Google Chrome™ etc. engaging in further research and investigation on an experience/ observation of the VFT that is of personal interest and then use the gathered information to compile an infographic digital poster using Piktochart© Printable templates. The instructor will facilitate the students throughout the lesson as and when necessary based on the skill and need level of the students.

Lesson Activity 4 (total duration 90-minutes):

The instructor will provide a 15-minute overview on the features and functions of Adobe Spark©, a story-telling application emphasizing the features of Spark Video option. The instructor will facilitate the students providing guidelines on how to use Adobe Spark© Spark Video feature at to create a short-animated video presentation.

Students will work collaboratively for 75-minutes in pairs using Adobe Spark©, to develop a short ( a 3 - 5 minute long) Spark Video presentation based on the virtual field trip report. The students will be encouraged to engage in exploratory learning figuring out different Adobe Spark© operations.

Both students in the pair are encouraged to take part in the verbal presentation of the info-graphic video to the class, as their skill and need levels permit.The students will be provided with ample time to conduct their video presentations.

Following up each presentation session there will a 2-minute whole class feedback session to encourage informal peer review on the video presentation.

Lesson Activity 5 (total duration 90-minutes):

The instructor will provide a 15-minute overview on the features and functions of Adobe Spark©, a story-telling application emphasizing on Spark Page option to create Portfolio.

The instructor will facilitate the students providing guidelines on how to use Adobe Spark© Spark Page feature at to create a portfolio to house virtual field trip lesson module projects.

Students will work individually for 75-minutes using Adobe Spark©, to develop a Spark Portfolio page reflecting on the software/ web applications used to completed projects, skills gained and the new knowledge constructed through the lesson module using Adobe Spark© Spark Page to house all the projects they have developed based on the virtual field trip lesson module.

Note: The 90-minute long lesson activities need to be completed in multiple sessions, where a single session lasts for 30-minutes or less in order to address needs to do with time accommodations, activity pacing, class management and keeping the learners on task.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment design is based on constructivist learning theory, meaning that the assessments are learner centered, authentic and interwoven with teaching and are threefold: instructor assessment, collaborative assessment, and self-assessment (Koohang et al., 2009). However, considering the cognitively challenged nature of the student demography, self and collaborative assessments are carried out in an informal manner: self assessments through reflective learning and peer assessments through a friendly review of video presentation.

The assessment strategy design for formal feedback from the instructor/facilitator is based in criterion-referenced assessment where the instructor will provide feedback on an on-going basis, on all pre-instructional and instructional activities, assessing each individual student’s competency ( relative to individual student's skill level, abilities and cognitive capacities, needs, requirements and goals as determined their IEPs), in the application of computer and technology knowledge and skills as prescribed in VA standards of learning for computer and technology against the following pre-determined criteria (Virginia.Gov., 2015).

I. Student’s engagement in progressive development of technical knowledge and skills.

II. Demonstration of basic operational and conceptual knowledge in using the newly introduced tools and technologies.

III. Use of technology research tools in gathering and processing information

IV. Application of thinking skills, problem solving skills and decision making skills in gathering and using information.

V. Communication with others (teachers, peers, experts) in social and collaborative learning.


Adobe Spark© Spark Page. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Adobe Spark© Spark Video. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Discover Jurassic fossils at dinosaur national monument. (2015, November 11). Retrieved from

Inspiration® Software. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Koohang. A, Riley. L, and Smith. T (2009). E-learning and constructivism: from theory to application. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects 92-109. Retrieved from

Piktochart©. (2017). Retrieved from

Skype in the classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Virginia.Gov. (2010). Science standards of learning: Earth science. Retrieved from

Virginia.Gov. (2014). Virginia’s guidelines for educating students with specific learning disabilities. Retrieved from

Virginia.Gov. (2015). Standards of learning: computer and technology. Retrieved from


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