ICT-supported learning for inclusion of people with special needs: Review of seven educational technology journals, 1970–2011

Authors

  • Andreja Istenic Starcic,

  • Spela Bagon


Address for correspondence: Dr Andreja Istenic Starcic, University of Primorska, PEF, Cankarjeva 5, SI-6000 Koper, University of Ljubljana, FGG, Jamova 2, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia. Email: andreja.starcic@siol.net

Abstract

Research and development of information and communication technology (ICT)-supported learning for people with disabilities has not received adequate attention. It is also difficult to access research findings and developments in this field. Under the ENABLE Network of ICT Supported Learning for Disabled People (2011–2014) project, an emerging European Union reference point portal for end-users will provide this information for a broad audience. In the design phase of the project idea, the authors of this paper conducted a review of papers indexed in Web of Science to provide a needs assessment and a design template for the project objectives. The results of the search clearly showed that ICT-supported learning for people with special educational needs is in the domain of the educational technology journals, with more papers published in the British Journal of Educational Technology than in any other journal. This paper presents the results of a content analysis of all papers published from 1970 to 2011 in seven educational technology journals indexed in Web of Science. More papers were published from 2006 to 2011 (44.7%) than during any other of five periods examined. Findings in terms of ICT intervention, disability groups, groups of study participants by relationship with ICT, and research design, together with trends in published studies in terms of mainstreaming and inclusion, are presented. The main objective of the study was to identify the level of inclusion through analysis of educational context (special schools [30.51%], mainstream schools [28.81%] and general support for life [40.68%]). Based on content analysis, ICT interventions were classified into the two categories of technical intervention in the pedagogical context (62.71% of all papers published) and technical intervention in the wider context (37.29% of all papers published), with nine paper types identified: papers on ICT access, papers on teaching and learning methods, papers on development and testing of ICT solutions, reviews, assessments, papers on inclusion, papers on behavioural and social development, papers on use of information technology and papers on interaction. Papers were also categorised according to types of disability and according to groups of study participants by relationship with ICT. Published papers were divided into four categories by research design: descriptive (49.15%), developmental (26.27%), experimental (17.8%), and developmental and experimental (6.78%). During the period from 1970 to 2000, papers examined design of learning materials with regard to particular categories of disability and particular accessibility needs, while papers published after 2000 also discussed universal design.

Based on the review, the authors of this paper have identified a need for application of universal design principles in research and development of learning environments to provide equal accessibility and inclusive education.

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