Mobile Technologies That Help Post-Secondary Students Succeed: A Pilot Study of Canadian and Israeli Professionals and Students With Disabilities

Catherine Fichten, Mary Jorgensen, Laura King, Alice Havel, Tali Heiman, Dorit Olenik-Shemesh, Dana Kaspi-Tsahor


In this preliminary investigation we examine the uses of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops for (a) non-academic and (b) academic purposes in the post-secondary classroom, as well as for (c) academic tasks outside the class by post-secondary students with disabilities. Integration of smartphones and other mobile devices into the learning process is innovative, challenging and highly relevant for post-secondary education. Also, research shows that post-secondary students like courses where use of their personal mobile devices in class is allowed. To explore how students with disabilities use their mobile devices we held four focus groups, with six to eight participants each: two in Canada (one for students with disabilities, one for professionals who assist students with disabilities) and two in Israel. The findings show that students with disabilities use their mobile devices for all the same reasons as nondisabled students. In addition, students with disabilities use general purpose mobile device features and apps as assistive aids. Implications of the blurring of the distinction between assistive and general use mobile device features and apps for the academic inclusion of post-secondary students with disabilities is discussed. It appears that for many students with disabilities, access to their personal mobile devices for academic purposes, both in and out of the classroom, is essential to ensure their full inclusion.

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International Research in Higher Education  ISSN 2380-9183 (Print)  ISSN 2380-9205 (Online)

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