Interaction between teachers and students with intellectual disability during computer-based activities: the role of human mediation

Karen Bunning, Becky Heath, Andy Minnion

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Project @pple (Access & Participation for People with intellectual disability in Learning Environments) was about exploring the terms for access and participation in e-learning and the World Wide Web. The current study aimed to explore the role of human mediation in student use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the special needs classroom. Video ethnography was employed to capture user engagement with ICT in a special secondary school for children with severe intellectual disability in the U.K. Five single cases were identified and the data were sampled, transcribed and evaluated for interactional structure and modes of communication. Statistical analysis revealed significant differences between teacher and student communication on all the measures. Teachers occupied significantly more turns than students. There were relatively few opportunities for the student to make a contribution to the interaction process with requests from teachers dominating the dialogues. The teachers communicated through speech mainly, with some gestural support towards aspects of the computer-based activity. This small scale study is illustrative of characteristics found in teacher-talk in other studies of classroom discourse. Engagement in computer-based activities appears to be inseparable from the communication context determined by the type of linguistic support given by the teacher.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-72
Number of pages12
JournalTechnology & Disability
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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