Southampton University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 1182-1185
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Web Science is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to understand the effect of new technologies and the web on people, and in turn how people affect the web and new technologies. Although there is a body of research around support for students with dyslexia, and one around mobile technology in learning and teaching, the convergence of these areas is less well explored and less well understood. It is likely that mobile devices coupled with easy web access will play a greater part in the higher education milieu.

Dyslexia is highly represented in students with disabilities attending higher education institutions in the UK. About 8-10% of all students attending HEIs will have a Specific Learning Difficulty. These include dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia. The characteristics of dyslexia vary from person to person, and from day to day, thus each individual’s experience of dyslexia is unique. While other students may experience similar difficulties to students with dyslexia, the kinds, patterns and levels of difficulty will vary according to the type of difficulty and the degree of impact within individual learning contexts. A feature of is dyslexia is that it is seen as a deficit that can be compensated for by identifying appropriate strategies for accessing and learning new information.
My research study of a small group of six students with dyslexia who received technology to support their learning showed that this was often an ‘off the shelf’ dyslexia package of support, rather than tailored to their individual and highly specific needs. It could be argued therefore that the needs assessment service has not kept pace with the rapidly developing field of mobile technologies such that students are not necessarily offered the latest and most appropriate equipment to enhance their learning.
Students also reported feeling intimidated by the process of getting support, and subsequently they did not use the technology they were given. They all reported feelings of isolation as the university required their dyslexia to remain confidential. In consequence they were not aware of peers who may be in a similar situation, and thus the key area of peer support was not available to them.

The findings suggested that further work could be done in the area of mobile technologies to support learning and teaching for students with dyslexia. A Hermeneutic Interpretive Phenomenological study will follow a number of students with dyslexia through one academic year using interviews, online diaries (video and blog), as well as observations of ‘typical’ days. The study seeks to explore the experiences of these students and to understand their view of higher education, and in particular how mobile technology and the web can help support learning and teaching.

The study includes peer support for the students via social media. As a researcher with dyslexia myself, I will use my own experience of higher education in the peer support process, as well as exploring which research methods are best suited to someone with dyslexia.

Ethical approval is currently being sought with a view to commencing the field-work in September 2013 and so initial findings will be available in 2014, with the study completing in August 2015.

It is hoped that this research will form a major contribution to the understanding of how mobile and web technologies can assist students with dyslexia maximise their learning opportunities at university.
Dyslexia, higher education, mobile technology, student, social media, dyslexic researcher.