Cognitive Load and Disorientation Issues in Hypermedia as Assistive Technology

Cognitive Load and Disorientation Issues in Hypermedia as Assistive Technology

Muhammet Demirbilek (Suleyman Demirel University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-817-3.ch007
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Abstract

Advances in information and communication technologies have raised the quality of inclusive education programs. Inclusive education, a recent advance in educational technology, has served to increase the ability of students with special needs. Hypermedia as an assistive technology has the potential to teach and train individuals with disabilities. However, like every technology, hypermedia itself is not problem-free. Disorientation and cognitive load are two of the most challenging problems related to hypermedia learning environments. The purpose of this chapter is to highlight disorientation and cognitive load problems in hypermedia learning environments where learners usually face a serious problem while navigating such environments.
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Assistive Technologies

In today’s information age, AT is not a luxury for students with disabilities. Assistive technology is a necessity for their growth and development. The use of AT enables these students to participate in activities typical of their age group. Assistive technology also provides a way by which these students can succeed academically as well as socially. Basically, the use of AT enables these students to do things and experience successes they would otherwise have been unable to do (Kelker, 1997).

Assistive technology provides creative solutions that enable individuals with disabilities to be more independent, productive, and integrated into the mainstream of society and community life. The benefits of AT have been recognized as a vital part of special education. Assistive technologies include devices used by children and adults with disabilities. Namely, these types of devices are designed to compensate for functional limitations and to enhance and increase learning, independence, mobility, communication, and environmental control and choice.

Weikle and Hadadian (2003) reported that there is valuable evidence supporting the use of AT devices for communication, as functional tools, to promote social outcomes, and as retention aids for learning activities in young children with disabilities.

The Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (Public Law, 100- 407, 1988) describes an AT device as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system whether acquired off the shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” In very basic terms, AT can be thought of as products that assist in eliminating the effects of a disability or most simply as products that make life easier for persons with disabilities. This broad definition comprises thousands of devices—both high- and low-tech—that can be classified in categories such as writing, computer access, reading, communication, and electronic aids for daily living, mobility, and leisure. Ultimately, with this extreme amount of information, it takes adequate knowledge of AT to best determine the AT needs of students with disabilities.

As a category of Assistive Technology Aids and Devices, Educational and Vocational Aids include computers, adaptive software and job modifications. If used appropriately, AT can facilitate a child's development by providing access to developmentally appropriate activities (Simms, 2003). Behrmann (1998) emphasizes the importance of AT as a means of inclusion into age-appropriate classrooms as well. Assistive technologies can provide the tools to bring more young children with disabilities into the general educational setting (Behrmann, 1998). The benefits of AT for students are cognitive as well as social and emotional. Hetzroni and Schrieber (2004) state that with the use of a word processor, students were able to produce material that was more acceptable and coherent in comparison to prior work samples.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Disorientation: Disorientation refers to an experience by users not knowing where they are within hypermedia and not knowing how to move to a desired location.

Hypermedia: Hypermedia is a combination of networks of nodes, including information (e.g., text, graphics, video, sound, etc.), for the purpose of facilitating access to, and manipulation of, the information encapsulated by the data.

Hypertext: Hypertext is a collection of text that can be linked to other text in an unlimited non-linear fashion.

Cognitive Load: Cognitive load refers to the load on working memory during instruction.

Assistive Technology: Assistive technology is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system whether acquired off the shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” (Public Law, 100- 407, 1988).

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