Gifted Students and Educational Technology

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-- 09:09, 16 January 2015 (PST)Created by Camille McFarlane (2011). -

Gifted students are generally considered to be highly talented in one or more intelligence domains and often require academic enrichment and differentiation through choice of content, pace, learning environment and product. Educational technology provides gifted students with the opportunity to demonstrate their creativity, access instant information, utilize their preferential learning style and pursue interest areas.

Background

Definition: Giftedness

There is not one set definition of what it means to gifted. Definitions vary by province and country.

The British Columbia Department of Education identifies gifted students based on the work of Howard Gardener and Joseph Renzulli. Students who demonstrate excellence in any of Gardeners eight areas of Multiple Intelligences may be gifted. As well, students who show evidence of Renzulli’s Three-Ring Conception of above average intellectual ability, creativity and task commitment may be gifted (British Columbia Ministry of Education, n.d.).

Renzulli's Three Ring Conception.jpg
Renzulli's Three Ring Conception

The American National Association for Gifted Children does not believe there is one clear definition to describe gifted students, however they include students who achieve in the top 10% in a particular domain and children who demonstrate high levels of performance capability in a particular area in the gifted category (National Association for Gifted Children, 2008).

Applicable Learning Theory and Educational Technology

Gifted education practitioners utilize a constructivist model of learning with a focus on differentiation. By using technology to create a constructivist learning environment, educators are able to easily differentiate for content, process, product, pace, as well as learning environment (Siegle, 2005).

Benefits of Technology in Gifted Education

Gifted students require learning to motivate and challenge them, as well as support their learning styles and needs. Approximately 15% of gifted students have learning disabilities and require assistive technology and it is believed 20-50% of gifted students are underachievers (Weber & Cavanaugh, 2006). The integration of educational technologies can support these students, as well as other gifted students. Technology can ensure student motivation and engagement by providing choice of content, tools and resources, along with adaptation to student learning preferences. Accommodations occur with computer technology by easily changing text size, highlighting concepts, providing quick dictionary access, note taking tools and bookmarking (Weber et al., 2006). Renzulli’s inclusion of creativity (Renzulli & Reis, n.d.) in the three-ring model can also be accounted for with educational technology by providing multiple ways to explore and experience content, as well as demonstrating creativity in multiple modes. Technology also provides for extension and enrichment of classroom curriculum. Another benefit for gifted students is the encouragement of 21st century skill creation with an emphasis on collaboration and critical thinking (Eckstein, 2009).

Educational Technology Tools

Gifted education benefits from a variety of technological tools however they can be divided into five main educational areas: literacy, content delivery, demonstration of learning, information resources and social networking. Handheld devices and laptops afford for convenience and assurance that the following can be achieved.

Literacy

Gifted students often struggle with being exposed to literacy texts which either do not challenge them enough, or are too difficult because literacy is not their gifted area. Tools such as EBooks, Podcasts, Blogs, Games, Social Networks, Discussion forums, online journals, online magazines and newspapers, as well as YouTube can provide gifted students with the opportunity to learn using their preferential learning style and topic, as well as viewing multiple texts on similar topics (Hebert & Pagnini, 2010). This approach to literacy encourages student engagement and motivation (Hebert et al., 2010), transferable literacy skills and enrichment through extending vocabulary and topic comprehension (Weber et al, 2006).

Content Delivery

Content delivery for gifted students, especially in an inclusive classroom, is often neglected due to resources, however through the use of Webquests, video games, simulations, Wikis and Learning Management Systems (example Moodle) teachers can provide students with enrichment, extension and individualized instruction (Ward, 2010). Educators can ensure differentiation for all students by providing an authentic learning environment with multiple levels of learning which encourages higher-level thinking, creativity and collaboration (Schweizer & Kossow, 2007).

Demonstration of Learning

Web 2.0 Landscape.jpg

Current computer Web 2.o tools such as podcasts, wikis, social bookmarking (Delicious), blogs, aggregators, Digital Storytelling, Youtube and social networking (Twitter, Flicr, Facebook), provide multiple ways for gifted students to showcase their learning in creative, collaborative and critical formats (Eckstein, 2009). Combining these tools with enticing goals such as E-Publishing or Thinkquest Competitions motivate students to learn.

By utilizing these tools to demonstrate their learning gifted students are able to highlight their creativity. Most of these tools provide the opportunity for differentiation, collaboration, enrichment, product sharing and deeper critical thinking which are necessary for gifted students (Kieler, 2010).

Information Resources

Computer technology provides gifted students with the immediate answers they so often desire. Instant access to encyclopedia sites (ex. Wikipedia), E-Books, podcasts, expert websites and Blogs, as well as media sites (ex. CBC) ensure students have instant information and are able to effectively interact with content and experts (Siegle, 2005).

Social Networking

Although often overlooked by many educators, social networking provides gifted students with a previously unavailable network of gifted students, educators and experts. Gifted student networks are found on various social networks, however one of the largest groups is the Gifted Kids Network. This network provides opportunities for students, parents and teachers to connect and find resources. As well, they provide online classes for students, technology tools and the latest trends. Social networks alleviate the isolated and frustrated feelings so often felt by gifted students.

Gifted Kids Network.jpg
http://www.giftedkidsnetwork.com/

Challenges

There are four main challenges to the integration of technology for gifted learners: internet safety, internet and technology access, blocking of internet sites and teacher willingness (Eckstein, 2009). Internet safety can be addressed through parental and student letters and contracts outlining the concerns and expectations, as well as presenting cyber safety classes. Technology access and blocking of internet sites is school specific and may require the teachers to be creative and discuss concerns with administrators. Teacher willingness can be addressed through learning and technology awareness, professional development and on-line resources.

Stop Motion Artifact

Gifted Students and Educational Technology by Joel Van Sant


Resources

A Different Place provides differentiation resources for students, teachers and parents.

Byrdseed Gifted Technology Blog highlights various technology tools and articles for gifted education.

COGITO (Connecting Young Thinkers Around the World) enables students to explore content areas, connect with experts and other interested students.

Gifted Sources provides links to educational sources for teachers, students and parents.

Hoagies' Gifted Education Page is a current resource for parents, teachers and gifted students.

Top 10 Gifted Education Blogs links to current gifted education blogs.

References

British Columbia Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Special Education: Gifted Education – A Resource Guide for Teachers. Retrieved February 12, 2011, from http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/specialed/gifted/whoare.htm

Cosenza, V. (2007). Web 2.0 Landscape. Retrieved February 20, 2011 from http://www.flickr.com/photos/vincos/1392311603/#/

Eckstein, M. (2009). Enrichment 2.0: Gifted and talented education for the 21st century. Gifted Child Today, 32(1), 59-63. doi: 10.4219/gct-2009-841

Giger, M. (2007). Renzulli's Three-Ring Conception of Giftedness. Retrieved from http://www.gigers.com/matthias/gifted/three_rings.html

Hebert, T. & Pagnani, A. (2010). Engaging gifted boys in new literacies. Gifted Child Today, 33(3), 36-45. Retrieved from http://journals.prufrock.com/IJP/b/gifted-child-today

Kieler, L. (2010). Trials in using digital storytelling effectively with the gifted. Gifted Child Today, 33(3), 48-52. Retrieved from http://journals.prufrock.com/IJP/b/gifted-child-today

National Association for Gifted Children. (2008). What is Giftedness? Retrieved from http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=574

Renzulli, J. & Reis, S. (n.d.). The Schoolwide Enrichment Model1 Executive Summary. Retrieved February 13, 2011 from: http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/sem/semexec.html

Schweizer, H & Kossow, B. (2007). Webquests: Tools for differentiation. Gifted Child Today, 30(1), 29-35. doi: 10.4219/gct-2007-19

Siegle, D. (2005). Six uses of the internet to develop students’ gifts and talents. Gifted Child Today, 28(2), 30-36. doi: 10.4219/gct-2005-167

Ward, C. (2010). Using online learning environments to support advanced learners. In J. Sanchez & K. Zhang (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2010 (pp. 377-381). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Weber, C. & Cavanaugh, T. (2006). Promoting reading: using ebooks with gifted and advanced readers. Gifted Child Today, 29(4), 56-63. doi: 10.4219/gct-2006-9