Learning technologies and dyslexic students at third level

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Presentation at Fourth Annual Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, National University of Ireland Galway, June 2006.

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Learning technologies and dyslexic students at third level

  1. 1. Learning technologies and dyslexic students at third level Pauline Rooney Fourth Annual Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, National University of Ireland Galway, June 2006.
  2. 2. Definitions: dyslexia  A combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing.  Accompanying weaknesses may exist in • • • • • • speed of processing short-term memory sequencing/organisation auditory/visual perception spoken language motor skills
  3. 3. Definitions: learning technologies  The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to enhance teaching and learning  Related terms: • • • • eLearning Educational technologies Computer-based learning Online learning
  4. 4. Background (1)  Professional context: • Support lecturers in use of ICTs to enhance teaching and learning • Liaise with student support staff to enhance student experience through use of ICTs • Develop accessible elearning materials
  5. 5. Background (2)  Institutional context: • Dyslexic students constitute largest percentage of disabled students • Numbers of dyslexic students increasing annually Registered disabled undergraduate students at DIT Deaf and Hard of Hearing 5% Mental Health Difficulties 4% Other Disabilities 8% Blind and Visual Impairment 2% Physical and Mobility Disability 4% Specific Learning Difficulty 77%
  6. 6. Background (3)  Educational context: • Traditional teaching/assessment methods present barriers to dyslexic students • Can learning technologies be used to overcome these barriers? Little research in area to-date
  7. 7. Research questions  What types of barriers to learning are dyslexic students currently experiencing at third level?  How are learning technologies currently being used to support dyslexic students at third level?  Can learning technologies be used to help overcome these barriers? If so, how?
  8. 8. Methodology  Critical action research  Focus group of 8-12 students on one programme  Collaborate with 1 lecturer on one module
  9. 9. Participants’ profiles  8 male students  1st, 2nd and 3rd years  Programmes: • Ord degree Electrical Services Engineering • Hons degree Business Management  Severity of dyslexia (as described by students): 5 mild, 1 very mild, 2 moderate
  10. 10. Participants’ difficulties 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Writing essays Reading Spelling Concentration Difficulties with short-term memory Organisational skills
  11. 11. Support mechanisms currently used  MS software (100%)  Assistive technologies (50%)  Learning support tutor in disability services (37.5%)  Friends (25%)  Lecturers (12.5%)  Parents (12.5%)  Counsellors (0%)
  12. 12. Current use of technologies (1)  Frequency of PC usage • Every day – 87.5% • Every second day – 12.5%  All have access to PCs at home and college  75% use a laptop  50% use an iPOD or similar  All use a mobile phone
  13. 13. Current use of technologies (2)  eMail usage – 100% • Every day – 25% • 3 > times/wk – 25% • < 3 times/wk – 50%  Preferred communication method with lecturers • Email - 75% • Text messaging - 25%  Bebo homepage (www.bebo.com) – 50%
  14. 14. Experience of elearning (1)  100% using webct  87.5% using webct areas which provide access to programme materials including: • Lecture notes • Discussion boards / email • Animations/imagery • Past exam papers • Online quizzes
  15. 15. Experience of elearning (2)  62.5% using webct student support areas • Study skills and exam tips • Careers • Student Maths Learning Centre • 24 Hour Library
  16. 16. Student feedback (1)  100% wanted to see webct/elearning used more • All lecturers using it • More consistency in provision of materials  Most useful aspect - accessing course notes/materials online  Use as reference in class  No need to approach lecturer  Helps with organisation  Least useful aspects - discussion boards  Spelling mistakes  Time consuming
  17. 17. Student feedback (2) What learning technologies would they like to see lecturers using? Online calendar Past exam papers More imagery Online flash cards Online self-tests Podcasts Text messaging
  18. 18. Possibilities for future support? Voice tools for communication Podcastings Text messaging (m-learning) Use of multi-sensory elearning materials  Gaming    
  19. 19. Future research…..  Very difficult to conduct research in area • Difficulties accessing students • Most lecturers encountered were reluctant to participate • Practical difficulties meeting students  Research will resume in future I hope!
  20. 20. Contact: Pauline Rooney eLearning Development Dublin Institute of Technology em: pauline.rooney@dit.ie

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