Integrating iPads Into Your classroom: For Learning Support & Special Education (Workshop Handout)


Customising the iPad to accommodate the needs of diverse learners

For students with diverse learning needs including students with special education needs, students with learning and literacy difficulties and students for whom English is not their first language technology can play a key role in removing barriers, differentiating instruction and providing tools to accommodate their learning needs and access to the school curriculum. During this workshop we explored the range of options using an iPad to assist teachers to optimize and differentiate student learning, and to support student engagement.

iPad Basics


More accessibility information via the Spectronics Blog:

iOS-6 Logo
Accessibility Icon

Alternative Access


Additional accessories such as durable cases, speakers, mounts, switch interfaces, keyguards and styluses can also help to make the iPad more accessible for your students. A range of links for these can be found on our Accessories Page

Determining which apps are appropriate

Assessment and Making informed decisions

Assessment and appropriate technology selection is essential to ensure we are addressing the specific needs of individual students. The selection of apps and the implementation of the iPad into the classroom should always be aligned to identified individual educational plan goals and targeted curriculum outcomes for students.

In addition to the curriculum assessment processes a school employs, other frameworks are also available to assist in making informed decisions concerning the implementation of the iPad and associated apps.

Evaluation Rubrics for Selecting Apps

To assist in this decision making process, checkout these two blogs by Katie Lyon:


Adding content to your iPads to support students in special education classrooms

Special Education classrooms are busy and changeable places, and finding the right apps that can work to enhance the curriculum outcomes for students is important. This section will cover apps across a wide range of ages and ability levels to maximise the learning for those students with disabilities in our Special education classrooms.

Disclaimer for the apps we show:
The apps we demonstrate in today’s workshop and highlight in this resource are just some of the many available! We are by no means saying that these are the only apps within each category that you should consider, as each app should be evaluated according to the assessment processes and framework identified above.

Cause and Effect

App suggestions:


Links to Websites:

Early Learning

App suggestions:


Help Kidz Learn Apps:


Speaking and Listening

App suggestions:



Toca Boca:



Links to websites:

Reading and Writing

App suggestions:


Interactive Books:


Early Literacy/Phonics:


Links to websites:


App suggestions:


Early Maths:








Links to websites:

  • Maths Games
  • Primary Maths Games
  • Smartkiddies

Adding content to your iPads to support students with learning support needs in mainstream classrooms

Students with diverse learning needs can struggle with the literacy requirements of school learning programs and curriculum content. They can find it difficult to access, participate and progress through the programs being provided, due to difficulties with reading, writing and organisational skills, and the way content is delivered.

The iPad can assist teachers to optimize and differentiate student learning, and while at the same time assisting students to manage their own learning. The use of the research based Universal Design for Learning Guidelines ( is an important consideration when supporting students with learning support needs in mainstream classrooms, and was used as a framework to deliver the content of this session.

Apps for Literacy Support list

Universal Design for Learning

Literacy Support Apps:

Texthelp Web Apps


And try this: dotEPUB is software in the cloud that allows you to convert any webpage into an e-book

QR Codes

Spectronics QR Code


Screencasting and Recording Apps:


Augmentative Reality Apps:



Adding content to your iPads to support students with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder need support in the areas of communication, behaviour and social development. It is important to match the right apps to suit the needs of individual students in your classroom. While the larger area of communication (and AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)) is not covered in this section, you will learn about appropriate apps for your classroom to use the iPad to create visual tools, positive behaviour supports and social stories.

Communication (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)

Links to websites:

Visual Supports


App Suggestions:


Links to websites:

Positive Behaviour Support

App suggestions:


Links to websites:

Social Stories

App suggestions:


Links to websites:


Creating customised content on the iPads: Students and teachers as authors

Traditionally students, and their teachers, have been consumers of content provided by others in printed or digital format e.g. via a text book, commercially available teaching resources or the web. Now teachers can for the first time be curators and creators of digital content to ensure access for ALL students, and students express themselves via digital media. The iPad makes it possible for ebooks to be created and customised, shared and published by both teachers and their students.

For a passionate view on the creation of the e-textbook see Greg Swanson’s e-textbook Manifesto

Workshop iBook:

Movie making Apps:


See Screencasting and Recording Apps (above)

ePub Creation Apps:


Other templates and Widgets for iBooks Author

Fun Creation tools:



Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

Are iPads and other new mobile technology being introduced into classrooms replacing all that has gone before? The answer is no! Technology is just one of the tools available to teachers and their students to ensure learning rich and engaging classroom for all students.

Desktop Software

AAC devices

Web 2.0 tools such as interactive learning websites:

Integrate the iPad into your classroom – share your iPad screen to your VGA-equipped data projector, TV or monitor

Via a cable:

Apple VGA Adaptor or Apple Digital AV Adapter

30pin to VGA adapter30p-AV AdapterLigntning AV Adapter


Apple TV, Reflection, and Air Server

Apple TV

Using iPads with Interactive Whiteboards

Inclusion Study

Video Self-Modeling Research



Today is just the beginning… taking your learning further!

So you have the appropriate assessment and implementation tools in place, but keeping up with the range of apps available and the successful strategies for effectively applying them in diverse learning support and special education classrooms can be difficult. Which ones do you choose for your students? These links will help.

Discover new apps via an app:



Need to find more? Want to connect with others who are implementing iPads in their schools and exploring the use of the wide range of apps available? Using the time-honoured strategies of occasional conference attendance, as funds are available, or listserve participation or surfing the net is simply no longer enough

However the collection of freely available resources and valuable time-sensitive advice for special education teachers and those supporting struggling students has grown exponentially on social media channels – supporting building of powerful Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) without geographic boundaries.

A comprehensive overview of these online resources and networks, including Facebook Groups, Twitter hashtags, blogs and key influencers in the field around special education and learning is available via this link

App icons for building your Special Education and Learning Support Professional Learning Networks

In the past special educators and learning support teams have been less enthusiastic than their mainstream peers in embracing social media to build powerful, extended PLNs. It is time to accelerate and expand the adoption of these tools by special educators, to connect with like-minded colleagues globally.


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One Response to Integrating iPads Into Your classroom: For Learning Support & Special Education (Workshop Handout)

  1. Hilary King says:

    You lot are BLOODY BRILLIANT!!! You brighten up my SUNDAY even!! (when supposedly sensible people are having picnics on the beach or tramping in the hills and glades, or praying for forgiveness somewhere)
    No! Here i am at my computer being inspired by YOUSE!!! AGAIN!!!!
    Have to love you -so I will
    Cheers, Hilz

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