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Enabling design: a case of maker workshops as a method for including special educators in creating digital interactions for learners with profound disabilities

Keay-Bright, Wendy Elizabeth, Eslambolchilar, Parisa ORCID: and Taylor, Aidan 2021. Enabling design: a case of maker workshops as a method for including special educators in creating digital interactions for learners with profound disabilities. Journal of Enabling Technologies 15 (1) , pp. 53-65. 10.1108/JET-09-2020-0036

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Purpose This purpose of this paper is to present findings from three workshops that aimed to enable learners with profound and multiple learning disabilities to have a richer, more meaningful experience of a digital curriculum and to bolster a more meaningful creative exchange than currently offered by off the shelf products. Design/methodology/approach Informed by the maker culture and participatory action research, this workshop method focussed on making prototypes and creating concepts that encourage a dialogic approach for envisioning future technologies. As a process of enabling design, this approach placed participants at the heart of iterative methods that support imaginative ideation and improvisation, rather than the production of marketable products. Findings A thematic analysis of post-workshop discussions revealed that participants felt inspired and supported to envision learner responses to stimuli as novel interactions, without prior knowledge of designing and coding. The collaborative approach provoked the articulation of narratives on learner ability and a reconsideration of “digital” with a contemporary curriculum for learners with profound disabilities. Practical implications Running a maker workshop requires a time and resource commitment from all parties. The emphasis is on easy-to-follow, direct teaching together with low cost electronics and non-digital materials, ensured that these demands were kept to a minimum. However, the gains of participation can only be maintained when support exists both in and out of the workshop environment through the provision of resources and communication channels. Originality/value The originality of the workshops lies in the focus on basic electronics, coding and prototyping as a means to think about digital futures. As a method of enabling technologies to tap into learner ability, this process fostered design dialogues through the social act of making, sharing and learning without the need for prerequisite skills.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Computer Science & Informatics
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 2398-6263
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 April 2021
Date of Acceptance: 27 November 2020
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2022 10:43

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