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Emerging Trends in Special Education Technology: A Doctoral Scholar Symposium Part Two

Authors: Teddy Kim and Yerin Seung;

On April 10th, 2024, CIDDL hosted a second “Emerging Trends in Special Educational Technology” webinar to highlight the innovative work of doctoral students. The invited panelists were Lauryn Castro from the University of Texas at San Antonio, Roba Hrisseh from George Mason University, Reagan Mergen from George Mason University, and Juli Taylor from the University of Kansas. Each panelist shared their work regarding special education technology and its impact on teacher and personnel preparation, followed by a Q&A session. 

Interestingly, the panelists integrated this technology in diverse ways in different fields of interest. These included leveraging technology tools to enhance the learning experience, teaching coding to students, and using technology-based research methodologies to explore the topic of interest.

Lauryn presented her study about using AI technologies in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) to aid people with disabilities. She emphasized AI's potential to enhance communication and the importance of involving stakeholders in the AAC design process. Through her research, she hopes to support the creation of AI-enhanced AAC devices that are user-centered, adaptable, and affordable.

Roba combines computer science coding with writing to enhance students' problem-solving, creativity, and cognitive skills. Her research uses a technology-based graphic organizer with embedded UDL supports to improve skills in both coding and writing, which are critical to the 21st-century digital era. She also suggests that this intervention aligns with educational standards and can effectively prepare educators to teach critical digital skills.

Reagan highlighted the importance of mathematics literacy for students' future careers and daily living. She advocates for integrating technology tools, such as educational games and virtual manipulatives, to support and engage students in developing mathematics literacy skills.

Juli used netnography to explore the teacher shortage crisis, focusing on its impact on special education. The findings highlight the need for training in adult interactions, streamlined processes, mental health support, and technology integration in the classroom. The study suggests addressing both standard and non-standard leaving rationales is crucial.

Please check the webinar for more information.

Questions & Answers

The first question was about the future goal of each panelist. Juli mentioned that netnography has a fruitful line of inquiry and much to contribute to the education field, though it has yet to be widely used. She plans to continue to research teachers’ working conditions and attritions using the method of netnography and further mentor future scholars who are implementing it. Reagan is interested in integrating games and writing, as her passion is in finding the intersection of various fields and strategies for students with disabilities. For the question of how teachers and teacher preparation programs should deal with artificial intelligence (AI), Reagan answered that teachers should explore AI tools and understand what it means to education. More specifically, teachers and teacher educators should determine what AI can do and consider how humans can add critical thinking and perspectives. Roba added that researchers should support teachers in integrating technology meaningfully. She mentioned that frameworks for technology integration, such as SETT, will be a great starting point for considering the meaning and effectiveness of integrating technology.

Continue the Conversation

 Do you have questions about their work that you want answered? Join our community to engage in conversation about the webinar and leveraging emerging technology in special education. 

Did you know that our CIDDL community has a space dedicated to doc students where they can share their research and collaborate with other scholars in different programs? Join the Doc Student space in the community!