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THE IMPACT OF THE USE OF "ASSISTANT" APPLICATION ON COMMUNICATION WITH STUDENTS' PARENTS IN INCLUSION

D. Švelec-Juričić, M. Bulić, L. Luić 

University North (CROATIA)
Digital school transformation encompasses all segments of the school system whose most obvious changes can be seen in the application of digital tools in teaching and communication with both students and parents. The intensive infiltration of digital technologies offers new ways of communication in a collaborative media environment where individuals create innovative and pragmatic information practices resulting in their digital footprints, but also a digital identity though which the individuals inevitably create their own image, predictably projecting it into their own realty. Communication through digital channels by using digital tools redefines the social, emotional, and conative dimension of communication. An especially sensitive population are students with disabilities who are given equal opportunities by inclusive education, and the quality of the outcome of their education depends on the digital competences and digital literacy of the teachers involved in the process. In order to offer support for teachers in the Republic of Croatia, the publishing house Školska knjiga has developed a digital tool that enables teachers to plan their work with students with disabilities by using predefined forms created by experts. The subject of this paper is to research which digital application functionalities teachers use the most and how the application improves their communication with students with disabilities and their parents using the feedback they receive, wherein the research goal was the self-evaluation of teachers’ work improvement in the period of using the Assistant application. How effectively is the planning of work with students with disabilities conducted, how much such a way of planning assists teachers in preparing types of support for students and whether the quality of communication with parents is improved while using the Assistant application are all research questions addressed by the authors of this paper. The research was conducted using a questionnaire on a sample of primary school teachers in the Republic of Croatia using the application for longer than one school year. The analysis and interpretation of results show that communication with students with disabilities and their parents was significantly improved by using the Assistant application; those teachers use a greater variety of support in raising awareness for effective ways of helping students, and that the application glossary greatly helps in understanding the issue of selecting an appropriate type of support for a student with disabilities. Based on the research results, a plan for an additional application module was developed that will serve to expand the ways teachers and parents of students with disabilities communicate in order to improve the understanding of students’ needs. The research results can serve as a basis for further related research and development of new teacher support systems.