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Current POPARD Projects
POPARD Applied Research projects that are on-going are described, along with contact information for staff members who are involved in this research. The projects in this section have received administrative and ethics approval and are in the data-gathering or writing phase.
Sharing Friendship Space - Learning how to make friends through an app: Crossing Community Expertise with Interdisciplinary Collaboration to Develop Functional and Accessible Technology for Special Educational Needs
Researchers: Brenda Dussault and Theresa Andreou
This is a long-term development project. The researchers’ goal is to increase capacity for primary support by providing professionals/para-professionals/parents with apps derived from evidence-based strategies. It is believed that autism teaching Apps will help parents and professionals implement and sustain effective, proactive interventions in classroom and home environments through visual demonstration and descriptive formats. The strategies to be supported by the apps will be selected by a team of professionals with a solid understanding of Autism and years of field-based experience.
In the first phase of this project, POPARD researchers worked with several students at a post-secondary institution to develop an app to enhance socialization for high school students who are diagnosed with an ASD. They mentored post-secondary students in researching and identifying the needs of secondary students that might be addressed by specialized apps.
Most iPad and iPhone Apps are developed quickly but, while well-intended, do not necessarily respond to the lived experience and interests of the user. This is especially true in the case of educational apps created to help students with developmental disabilities. To address this conundrum the Provincial Outreach Program for Autism (POPARD), and Emily Carr University partnered with a local high school to conduct participatory, person-centered research. In this action-based project, expertise from the field of autism was combined with expertise in dynamic media design to guide and promote more informed, interactive and functionally useful applications in the field of Autism.
Ms. Dussault and Dr. Andreou are currently writing a report on this project and completing arrangements for the distribution through iTunes of the app that was developed from this project. They are also initiating the design of a “keystone” app that will assist in the organization of instruction for students with ASD.
The purpose of their research is to understand the challenges of and explore the opportunities for educational App development and use in the field of ASD through students’ perspectives. Methodology has involved participatory action research intended to illuminate students’ and educators’ experience with apps and technology, particularly with regard to functional utility and user engagement.