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A Black Swan in a Sea of White Noise: Using Technology-Enhanced Learning to Afford Educational Inclusivity for Learners with Asperger's Syndrome

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McDowell, James

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Abstract Against a backdrop of increasingly vocation-focussed course provision within higher education, of widening participa-tion initiatives intended to promote greater inclusion for learners affected by learning difficulties, and of moves towards greater use of social and collaborative forms of learning, this paper discusses the case of an undergraduate Computing student affected by Asperger’s Syndrome (AS).While there is recognition in the literature of problems associated with face-to-face dialogue for persons affected by AS, there is a paucity of research both into the experience of students in higher education, and around the issue of participation in group-work activities increasingly found in creative aspects of computing. This paper highlights a tension between moves towards collaborative learning and UK disabilities legislation in relation to learners with AS. Employing a qualitative case-study methodology, the investigation revealed how a tech-nology-enhanced learning intervention afforded an AS-diagnosed learner greater opportunities to participate in group-work in a higher education context. The findings suggest that not only can computer-mediated communications afford AS-diagnosed learners opportunities to participate meaningfully in group-work, but also that the learner demonstrated higher levels of collective-inclusive versus individual-exclusive phraseology than neurotypical peers, thereby challenging assumptions around participation in collaborative learning activities and assimilation of peer-feedback. (author's abstract)
Keywords autism; mental disorder; social integration; learning; cooperative learning; communication technology; computer-aided instruction; computer aided learning; group work; interaction; university; studies (academic); educational technology; instructional technology; learning difficulty
Classification University Education; Psychological Disorders, Mental Health Treatment and Prevention
Document language English
Publication Year 2015
Page/Pages p. 7-15
Journal Social Inclusion, 3 (2015) 6
Issue topic Inclusive Technologies and Learning
ISSN 2183-2803
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution