CCE Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Laurie P. Dringus

Committee Member

Steve Terrell

Committee Member

Tim Ellis


>assistive technology, collaboration, groupware, individualized education program, special education, universal design


Team collaboration is necessary to fully support school-age students who use assistive technology (AT). Teams should include the student, his or her family, and school professionals. Unfortunately, team collaboration is often not realized due to constraints that range from scheduling conflicts and language barriers to lack of defined roles and access to shared information. In addition, families and students are often passive participants in the educational planning process rather than active contributors.

Groupware has been used in comparable areas of professional and peer collaboration to address similar barriers. The study resulted in a groupware model intended to enhance the collaboration of individualized education program (IEP) teams supporting students who use assistive technology (AT). The groupware model had a working title of CollaborAT. Through literature review, goal definition, prototyping of alternatives, panelist review and ranking of proposed attributes, and user testing, CollaborAT was be systematically designed, developed and evaluated.

Through review and ranking of prototypes by a panel of 20 experts, the design phase of the study provides insight into the aspects of computer-mediated communication (CMC), content management, member profiling and scheduling supports that the intended audience values for collaboration related to AT and the IEP process. The study also provides insight into the viability of developing a groupware tool that consists of the attributes valued most by the intended audience.

The CollaborAT model was built based on the design criteria established by the panel of experts. The model was presented to the panel for review and approval. With the approval criteria met, user testing was conducted with a small sample representing the target audience. The user test group consisted of 12 participants with varied IEP experience and role assignment. The user testing results provide initial evaluation data on the usability of CollaborAT.

The study provides insight into the design, development and evaluation process for groupware tools. Through the application of a panel of experts, the analytic hierarchy process (AHP), prototyping, and user testing, the design criteria were defined and validated. The study provides detailed information for those interested in replicating all or portions of this research-based approach for the design and development of similar products and supports.

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