UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Participatory design in the special education classroom : designing technology with educators for students with autism spectrum disorder Rahal, Louai


Visual supports have been found to facilitate communication with and teaching of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Hodgdon, 2016; Mirenda & Fossett, 2015). However, the creation of visual supports is often a time-consuming task, and ensuring both their safety and portability can be challenging as well. The use of mobile tablets has been found to significantly reduce the time requirements for creating visual supports and facilitating their portability (Giles & Markham, 2017; Hirano et al., 2010). However, the use of these devices has introduced new challenges related to technology integration in teaching. Limited technical support and mismatch between educators’ pedagogical beliefs and the technologies that are available to them have made the process of integrating tablets harder for educators. One suggested solution to the problems of technology integration is to involve educators in the design of the technology they use and to produce with them technologies that closely match their needs and pedagogical values. The objective of this study was to codesign web applications with educators that they could use to create and display visual supports on tablets. The researcher collaborated with three groups of educators and codesigned a web application with each group. A qualitative analysis of the design process helped to elicit the factors that facilitated and/or hindered the process of designing technology with educators. Factors that facilitated participation included perceived usefulness of the designed products and participants’ knowledge about design and technology. Some of the factors that hindered participation included turnover and career changes (especially among educational assistants) and differences between stakeholders (teachers, speech language pathologists, educational assistants, and students). Based on the findings of the study, the researcher articulated recommendations on engaging in Participatory Design (PD) in special education, such as aligning the goals of PD projects with the long-term goals of participants.

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