London South Bank University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 5790-5796
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
The HANDS project has developed a software application for mobile phones, which allows teachers to flexibly develop interventions on smartphones which help children with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorders) to develop social skills and self management skills – areas of ability which tend to be impaired in this population.
Implementation of the first prototype has taken place at four special schools for children with ASD located in Denmark, Sweden, Hungary and the UK. Fifteen teachers and 27 children used this prototype from October 2009 to July 2010. A second prototype, with modifications based on feedback from the first stage, will be implemented from October 2010. The software design process was based on persuasive technology design principles (Fogg 2003).
Although the key research objective of the HANDS project it to determine what impact a mobile technology solution can have on social skills development for children with ASD, in this paper we focus on the place that innovation in practice, stimulated by the introduction of a new technology tool, has on how teachers work with children in the social skills domain.
We characterize our research programme as a realist interpretivist study, following Hammersley and Atkinson (2007), in proposing a realist conceptualization of interpretivist research, where there is some possibility, even when recognising the contingent nature of the data, of discovering some essential truths about the experience of the subjects independently of the position of the researcher.
A series of 4 semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 5 teachers (associated with 10 children using HANDS) at the UK school and 2 teachers (associated with 3 children) at the Danish School, between October 2009 and June 2010. The interviewer followed closely a specified interview guide for each interview, which included a focus on the extent to which use of HANDS has prompted changes in practice. A semi-structured questionnaire was developed in tandem with the interview guide and a significant degree of matching between interview and questionnaire questions was achieved. Teachers at the Danish, Swedish and Hungarian schools completed the questionnaire.
Analysis of the data indicates that where the introduction of HANDS prompted innovation in practice, the motivation by teachers and children for using HANDS effectively was stronger. In particular, in a number of striking cases, teachers reported that they felt that HANDS “extended their reach”, i.e. that its mobile character allowed them to have influence on the child’s social skills development outside of the classroom setting, and importantly when the child was at home. This finding resonates with the extant persuaive design literature, where the concept of "Kairos" (providing the right intervention at the right time) is employed. The innovation of extending the focus of teacher practice outside of the classroom leads to the design of interventions that can be delivered, because of the portability of the mobile device, at the right time and the right place. This development in practice is facilitated by the introduction of this new technology tool. The innovation presents a modality whereby both teachers and children perceive that the technology is offering something new and effective, leading to increased motivation by children, notwithstanding other mediating factors, to engage with the technology, hopefully leading to social skill development.
Mobile technology, special educational needs, autism.