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Learning technologies and special educational needs: a liiterature review of empirical research
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Special Education. (Lärandemiljöer och didaktisk utveckling)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Special Education. (Lärandemiljöer och didaktisk utveckling)
2013 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Learning technologies are used in educational settings as tools to communicate, design learning environments, and stimulate learning processes. Many of these tools are applied in the field of special educational needs.  We have identified several types of applications that have been reported in scientific international journals as technology-enhanced learning, augmentative and alternative communication, computer-assisted instruction,  interventions with computer-based games, multi-user virtual environment  (as virtual case, visualization and simulation activities), web-based inquiry learning, computer-supported collaborative learning, application software, digital literacy, learning platforms, e- learning and mobile learning. These developments in the field of learning technologies should be introduced in teacher training and in particular in special needs education training, since several of these technologies may be momentous in improving education for students with learning disabilities.  This study wants to contribute to synthesize the research in these subjects in order to disseminate knowledge and in order to stimulate to further research in this field in  teacher training. In fact, despite the rapid growth of technological applications in the Swedish schools, where many students have access to an own PC, the contents of the teacher programs are always adapted to the new, technology-enhanced educational conditions that are nowadays common in the schools. A literature review of research is valuable also to investigate which evidence that is available for the efficacy of various methods.  The literature review aim is to encourage a scientific approach on these matters, which means also a rigorous scrutiny of results. Besides the risk connected to a lack of knowledge, in fact, there is also the risk that commercial interests and marketing will influence investments in the educational sector, to a greater extent than research evidence. A comprehensive theoretical framework for the literature review has been Universal Design for Learning (Rose & Gravel, 2010, CUDE, 2012). Under this concept different didactic approaches fit that offer multiple means of representation and communication, using a variety of resources for activities and expression, and create numerous ways of engagement. ULD is based on principles that are fundamental for all learning and teaching activities. It provides the opportunity to explore a wide range of possibilities and processes related to the theme of inclusive education (inclusion) that strives for objectives of an equal education and to reduce barriers to learning. The aims are to investigate a) which  learning technologies have been developed and are reported in research; b) which theoretical models and concepts are employed in empirical studies of learning technologies and special educational needs; c) to make a mapping of the contents of the field; d) to make a synthesis of research results within a specific area e) to develop a database of research literature to identify questions and issues for future research (interventions, replication of quasi-experimental studies).

The study has followed the recommended approach for systematic reviews (CRD, 2009, Gough, Oliver, & Thomas, 2012; Roberts & Petticrew, 2006, SBU, 2011). The searches were conducted mainly in databases that collect suitable Journals on special educational needs and learning technologies (EBSCO, Scopus) during the autumn 2012. Other databases at universities, research institutes, national and international authorities were also searched (e.g. OECD, EPPI, EIPPEE, European Agency for Special Needs Education, The Swedish National Agency for Education, Becta). The reference found was exported to an online database established in RefWorks (2012). A title- and abstract review of about 1300 references were performed according to a protocol. Required inclusion criteria concern population, educational context, special educational needs content, type of technology application, language and availability. The included references were sorted and reviewed in full text. The protocol for the full text review include: methods, subjects, type of special educational needs, relevance for the local educational context, quality. The literature review will map the existent research that is relevant for the special educational needs field and will synthesize the research conducted within a more specific area. Possible candidates are: a) serious games for numeracy, prevention of reading difficulties, training of working memory; b) virtual simulations. We expect that the results of the literature review willl be taken into account in teacher training and special educational needs training

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
special educational needs, literature review, teacher training
National Category
Human Aspects of ICT Learning Didactics
Research subject
Special Education; Special Education with a Focus on Educational Science; Didactics; IT and learning
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88840OAI: diva2:613928
ECER The European Conference on Educational Research 2013 September Instanbul
Ämnesdidaktiska litteraturöversikter finansierad av CeSam på Stockholms Universitet
Available from: 2013-04-02 Created: 2013-04-02 Last updated: 2014-07-03Bibliographically approved

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Allodi Westling, MaraLinikko, Jari
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