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Title: Mainstream technologically-enhanced learning environments in special schools in Northern Ireland
Author: Buhagiar, Diane
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 3197
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2014
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Educational systems have been increasingly urged to update their methods to reflect the societal changes brought about by technological advances. This has exerted pressure on teachers to capitalise on technological tools to bring the anticipated change in classroom practice. Nevertheless, many teachers have been reluctant to change their pedagogies to adopt technology, despite research identifying its benefits for teaching and learning. :1 Amongst these benefits is the potential of technology to make education more inclusive for students with special educational needs (SEN). However, there is insufficient knowledge about best practices that maximise the use of mainstream technologies within SEN settings. This study aimed to: (i) understand how mainstream technologically enhanced learning environments (TELE) can provide personalised learning and facilitate the learning practices of students with SEN; (ii) investigate problems faced by teachers in SEN settings during implementation of technological change and identify support systems to minimise unwanted disruptions and (iii) explore factors influencing the degree of successful implementation of a TELE for SEN. A qualitative approach was adopted by means of a case study amongst two special schools in Belfast. Interviews with participating teachers and students as well as participant observations were utilised to investigate the participants' experiences within the TELE. This study was framed within an activity theory perspective. Results indicate that a constant re-adaptation of resources and practices can transform the TELE into a new tool that mediates the achievement of more inclusive and personalised learning for SEN students. For special teachers, this transformation was characterised by tensions, identified as a combination of personal, interpersonal and institutional factors. Ultimately, the acquisition of new skills and confidence as well as abandoning preconceived misconceptions about notions of disability acted as new tools that mediated successful adoption. This study thus highlights the implications of these findings for educational policy and practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available