Shaheena / Fostering Inclusive Education by Integrating Digital Technology in the Classroom / Inclusive Education, Personalized Learning, Student Engagement
Inquiry Topic, Questions, and Controversies
Topic: How can educators use digital technology to create an inclusive educational environment for students facing all learning abilities?
Questions: How can educators assess learning? How can digital education be interwoven within the curriculum? What digital technologies are currently being used in the classroom to create inclusivity? How can educators be supported when introducing new media tools into their classrooms?
Controversies: How can teachers ensure that all students who face learning challenges are engaged? How can teachers ensure that all students are gaining the same learning? What challenges will teachers face when attempting to use digital technology in the classroom?
Due to lack of funding and budget cuts, large classroom sizes and the absence of EAs or ECE’s in the class, the quality of education has taken a huge hit. From my experience as an educator, particularly in the urban environment, it is evident that there are many students who are not fully engaged in the classroom experience—some not at all. It is discouraging to see students coming to class, sitting through a lesson, and leaving without having understood or learned the material. Through digital technology, there is an opportunity for educators to ensure that all students are engaged in the learning environment, albeit through different mediums. Inclusive education is a wide net that includes students of all learning abilities, developmental delays, English language learners, gifted students, and more. Throughout this course so far, I have been exposed to various new apps, online games, and other digital platforms that provide many creative and fun ways that will definitely be beneficial in the classroom. I believe that all students, even if they are not directly affected by a developmental delay or other intellectual or physical learning disability, deserve the chance to produce, create and achieve their best work—and this can only be done if they are presented with various mediums that can be customized to fit their learning.
Initial Research Pathways and Observations
For this research initiative, I would like to investigate serious play, scaffolding, and inquiry based learning.
A great resource that I would like to further explore is TKI's Inclusive Education Guides . Although it is a New Zealand based source, it appears to be (so far) the only website that provides resources/guides on integrating digital technology and curriculum with a focus on inclusive education. They state on their homepage: “Increased access to digital technologies can enable more inclusive and personalized learning pathways through the curriculum, especially for those students who need additional supports to learn. Students and teachers can work together to find the most effective ways to integrate digital technologies into learning environments: removing barriers to learning, providing increased choices matched to student needs and interests, and expanding collaboration opportunities.” This is a teaching philosophy that I agree with and wish to implement in the future.
According to Teach Thought,  “…as the number of students in special education programs has increased, the supply of special education instructors has not kept pace. Based on the Department of Education’s Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing, 47 states in the 2014-15 school year were in need of special education instructors.” Through the use of assistive technology, students with disabilities can overcome challenges they face in the classroom due to a lack of resources. I will be researching various TTS tools that students can most effectively benefit from.
I will also be looking at a range of media tools that can be used in the classroom and outside of the classroom to promote inclusive education. ScribJab, Glogster, Piktochart, Ginger, and various other digital media tools will be among the platforms investigated to determine which of them would be best incorporated to promote an inclusive classroom—particularly those with “low threshold/high ceiling” opportunities.
-You might look into Canadian Education Association's What Did You Do In School Today program  that focuses on intellectual engagement of adolescents in Canadian schools. If you read this, you could use it as a framework or reference for how digital technologies could be used to increase intellectual engagement in relation to their suggestions and guidelines. They also have one example of a study conducted that used technology to increase student/intellectual engagement titled Mockingbird Mashups in their second publication 
-Additionally, Ontario Public School Boards' Association has a document titled "A Vision for Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age"  and has a section titled Student Engagement that discusses the use of digital technology in classrooms that you might find useful!
Possible Media Tools/Forms of Production
iBook/Twine: This will be the main component of the Inquiry Research Project. It will be used to incorporate multimodal tools to present the research, statistics, data etc.
ScribJab: A digital storytelling tool (TTS/ELL platform)
PiktoChart: This tool will be used to present the information through a more visual medium to promote inclusivity.