Dr Sarah Parsons – Technology in the classroom transcript

Technology in the Classroom by Dr Sarah Parsons, University of Birmingham

Title: Dr Sarah Parsons - Technology in the classroom
Duration: 3.23 mins
Speaker Names (if given):   S1 Dr Sarah Parsons – Technology in the classroom

S1 Well, the main project I’m working on at the moment is called ‘Close Facial’, which is a project that seeks to develop interactive technologies for children with autism, as well as children who are typically developing.  So, the technologies are looking at ways that we can encourage children with autism, who we know have difficulties with social interaction and working together, to actually work together on tasks in a way that is hopefully motivational and fun for them.

One of the main approaches that we take is something that called ‘User Centred Design’, where we involve the teachers and some of the students that ultimately we’ll be working with, in the development of the technologies themselves.  So hopefully that means that whatever we end up producing will be able to be embedded quite easily in existing frameworks and infrastructure that schools have.  So that means that one of the things we’re doing is working with the technologies that already exist in schools and finding ways to augment that really with our research, looking at new technologies and seeing what we can add to what already exists.

I think in the future, technology will continue to play a significant role in educational provision for all children, including those with autism or other disabilities or special educational needs. When I think back to my own schooling where it was completely the norm to have one BBC computer in the corner of the classroom and you got to use it maybe once a week and I think about how far we’ve come in our use of technology for education over that time, I think the future will still be very much about how we are using technologies in schools, but the technology will be very different, more exciting, more interactive I think, a bigger scale; there will be rooms equipped with more interactive technologies.  So full rooms that are interactive, as opposed to just the standard, interactive white boards.  I think there will be a lot to explore around those kinds of technologies and then in a way it’s difficult to predict what that's going to look like exactly, but I think technology will still be very much on the research agenda in the future.

There are plenty of opportunities for postgrads to get involved in the research that we’re doing, in fact we really welcome the enthusiasm that postgrads bring to the work. There’s plenty of work to be done.  The big literature review that we carried out about educational provision for children with autism highlighted very clearly that there are significant gaps to be addressed in that evidence base and there’s plenty of scope there for postgraduate students to come in and help drive forward that research.

The main thing that excites me about my research is the opportunity I get to work with the potential end users of the research.  So it’s about engaging with the teachers and the pupils in schools, in a way that you hope enables you to ultimately make a real difference to what’s going on for them.