"COMPARTILHA": A SHARING SOCIAL NETWORK IN SPECIAL NEEDS AIMING TO EMPOWER PARENTS AND EXPERTS
The acquirement and improvement of digital skills by parents and experts is of crucial importance for the incorporation of technological resources in the education and rehabilitation process of children and youth with special needs (SN). This project aims to create and display an online platform that encourages the acquirement of skills in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), in the context of SN, and therefore, increases families’, teachers’ and therapists’ autonomy and knowledge in using ICT when intervening with children and youth with SN. This space has been called “Compartilha”, from the Portuguese verb “Compartilhar”, which means “To Share”.
According to the methodologies of ActionResearch (Coutinho, 2005) and the Development Research (Van Den Akker, 1999), we purpose ourselves to reach the following goals:
i) To create an online platform for competencies development and sharing of knowledge and information on ICT for SN;
ii) To simplify effective communication among different actors taking part in the education/rehabilitation process of children and youth with SN;
iii) To endorse the practice of sharing of information, resources, materials, knowledge and doubts on this matter;
iv) To produce and display specific contents and resources that make educational processes easier and more effective, improving inclusion of children and youth with SN;
v) To test and assess the online Compartilha site.
Thereby, we wish to offer to this community of parents and experts an online interface site without any kind of space/time restrictions or constraints, that increases training and selftraining in ICT field and enhances the sharing of appropriate practices for intervening with individuals with SN among the different educational agents (families and professionals, of health and education).
In order to achieve these goals, we have dedicated the first part of our investigation to the gathering and analysis of data regarding the lack of opportunities for training and sharing of information on the ICT field for SN, through a survey applied to parents and experts. We have also analyzed important web sites for the SN topic and interviewed people that manage and attend mutual support facetoface groups.
Secondly, we have conceived a model for the emoderation of the website that comprises five stages sustained on the emoderation models by Salmon (2000), CabreroAlmenara (2006) and MirandaPinto (2009).
Further on, we have created and already published online the Compartilha website, accordingly to the interests and expectations of parents and experts that deal with children and youth with SN, collected on an earlier moment of this investigation.
Our proposal is now being tested by a pilot group that includes 25 Health and Education professionals and 15 parents of children and youth with SN that expressed their desire of participating in the project since the initial survey. It is our wish that this pilot group makes use and exploits the Compartilha web site, in a collaborative learning perspective, developing their training and self training digital skills and creating digital resources that respond to the specific needs of the children and youth they’re responsible for.
This paper aims to deliver and submit to discussion the data so far collected.
*The participation of the authors in INTED2015 is being financed by the Research Centre in Dydactics and Technology in Training for Trainers (CIDTFF).