16 SES 03 B, ICT as a Tool to Support Students and Pre-Service Teachers
Parallel Paper Session
The overarching aim of this paper is to critique the discourses of risk surrounding the use of educational technologies by people with learning disabilities. The concept of risk is frequently applied to people with learning disabilities and their non-use of technology. This risk is framed in terms of ‘digital exclusion ‘and writers such as Svetaz et al. (2000) and Dowse (2009) have made links between the prevalence of technology in society, the need to be technologically literate in order to survive and the consequent “risk and disadvantage” that young people with learning disabilities might face in terms of educational and employment choices if they are unable to master basic technological literacy skills. Although concerns over digital exclusion have resulted in positive action in that many countries have implemented policies that focus on reducing the digital divide, much of the focus has been on the potential of the technology, rather than the potential of the learner. (Seale, 2009). In this paper I will present the findings of a review of research and practice literature that I conducted, which sought to evaluate whether and how this discourse of risk and associated vulnerability (Swadener 2000) is perpetuated when considering how people with learning disabilities actually use technologies. I will illuminate and exemplify three risk discourses that I found at work in the literature: an “at-risk” discourse associated with using technologies to teach people with learning disabilities basic literacy and numeracy skills; a “risk minimising” discourse associated with using technologies to teach independent skills that optimise personal safety and security and a “risk management” discourse associated with teaching safe use of online social and communication technologies. I will draw on social cultural theories of risk (Dean 1999) to analyse how people with learning disabilities and their support workers are conceptualised across these risk discourses with a particular focus on perceived potential. From this analysis I distil out two lenses for interpreting how and why people with learning disabilities are supported (or not supported)to use educational technologies: a ‘negative risk logic lens’ (Lindqvist et al. 2009) and a ‘positive risk taking lens’ (Seale and Nind 2010).
Dean, M. (1999). Risk, calculable and incalculable. In D. Lupton (Ed.), Risk and socio-cultural theory: new directions and perspectives (131-159). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dowse, L. (2009). Some people are never going to be able to do that: Challenges for people with intellectual disability in the 21st Century. Disability & Society, 24, 571-584. doi: 10.1080/09687590903010933 Lindqvist, P., Nordanger, U.K & Landahl, J. (2009). Insurance and assurance: teachers’ strategies in the regimes of risk and audit. European Educational Research Journal, 8, 508-519. http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/eerj.2009.8.4.508 Seale, J. (2009). Digital Inclusion. A research briefing by the Technology Enhanced Learning Phase of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme. Teaching and Learning Research Programme. http://www.tlrp.org/docs/DigitalInclusion.pdf. Seale, J. & Nind, M. (2010). Understanding and promoting access for people with learning difficulties: seeing the opportunities and challenges of risk. London: Routledge. Svetaz, M.V., Ireland, M & Blum, R. (2000). Adolescents with learning disabilities: Risk and protective factors associated with emotional well-being: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Journal of Adolescent Health, 27, 340-348. http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(00)00170-1/abstract Swadener, B. B. (2000). ‘At risk’ or ‘at promise’? From deficit constructions of the ‘other childhood’ to possibilities for authentic alliances with children and families. In L.D Sotto (Ed.) The politics of early childhood education (117-134). New York: Peter Lang.
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