ADAPTING GENERAL MODEL FOR DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT OF DIGITAL INTERACTIVE LEARNING RESOURCES FOR THE NEEDS OF SPECIAL EDUCATION

T. Zafirova-Malcheva , P. Mihnev

Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" (BULGARIA)
Work with students with special educational needs (SEN) always poses challenges to the teachers. In the global crisis caused by COVID-19, these challenges are becoming greater. The transition to online learning raises the problem of access to education for students with special needs. The problem with the availability of accessible digital learning resources for SEN is also very important. Often teachers have to develop own resources for students with SEN. This requires skills for design and development of digital learning resources, tailored to the learners’ needs.

The paper presents the process of adapting a general model for Design and Development of Digital Interactive Learning Resources (D3ILR) for students with SEN (SEN-D3ILR). A short overview of the general D3ILR model, designed from the authors, is given. The model is intended to be used by teachers and provides a simple way to design and develop digital interactive learning resources. It has two phases (Analysis, and Design & Development) separated into six stages – Needs Analysis, Audience Analysis, Task Analysis, Design, Development, And Testing & Evaluation. The stages describe the main steps in the design and development of digital interactive learning resources.

Adapting D3ILR model to the SEN require some changes. First change is in the order of the D3ILR model stages. When we talk about special educational needs it is very important to know the learners, their problems and needs. Therefore, in design and development of SEN digital learning resources is important first to make Audience analysis, before moving on to Needs analysis. Specific characteristics and abilities of different groups of SEN learners lead to specific needs. These specific needs may cause specific learning problems. Making audience analysis before needs analysis, will help to better definition of learners needs. Second very important element is ensuring the Accessibility of developed digital learning material. Depending on the specific learners’ needs, main accessibility principles must be taken into account, for example use of an appropriate font size and background colour to ensure better readability; duplicate the text with audio for visually impaired students; duplicate audio with text for hearing impaired students, etc. To ensure quality of the developed materials, Accessibility is included as a separate element of the Design stage of the SEN-D3ILR model.

The SEN-D3ILR model keeps the structure of D3ILR. It has the same phases divided into six stages. The difference is that first stage is Audience Analysis. It identifies users’ group and its abilities and specific needs. The second stage Needs analysis, is aimed to identify the learning problem based on specific learner’s needs. In the third stage, Task analysis, learning goals and objectives are specified, and the learning content is identified. Other difference is in the stage of Design, where important place takes the application of accessibility principles in the design of digital learning resource. Last stage includes testing and evaluation. The model ends with the use of the developed resources in learning. In any of the stages model provides an opportunity to go back and make changes in previous stages.

The SEN-D3ILR model gives the teachers easy to follow development procedure; puts special emphasis on the users’ abilities and needs, and on the accessibility of the developed learning resources.