The National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) advances learning opportunities for individuals with disabilities by fostering technology innovation. Specifically, we help researchers, product developers, manufacturers and publishers to create and commercialize products of value to students with special needs.
To achieve its goals NCTI offers services to:
- Analyze needs, issues, trends, and promising technology innovations
- Cultivate a collaborative network
- Promote reliable research-based solutions
- Facilitate successful commercialization approaches for the education market
Funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), NCTI works with a deep and supportive community of government, nonprofit, and private organizations. Our network of individuals and staff is dedicated not only to the development of powerful assistive technologies but to the commercial success that will make them viable on a large scale.
NCTI has been tracking trends in technology development and educational innovation since 2001. In the NCTI Issue Paper on Globalization — Learning and Assistive Technology: Thriving in a Global Marketplace, drafted with the input of our stakeholders and advisory, we have identified five cross-disciplinary trends that the learning and assistive technology field needs to watch:
- The rise of an aging population worldwide along with the growth of medical advances that point to a heavier reliance on and acceptance of AT for quality of life and productivity.
- The arrival of an information economy in the Western industrial countries.
- The rise of developing economies across the globe as being competitive centers of technological innovation and development.
- The continued convergence of platforms, applications, and modes of computing and accessing information into ever more portable devices.
- Assessment data point to U.S. students’ lack of competitiveness with global peers.
This issue paper explores these trends and why they matter to the learning and assistive technology field.
In a landmark 2005 study, NCTI held discussions with more than 100 key thought leaders in the United States about technology innovation and the future of technology in education for all students.2 In all those extensive discussions, the subject of social media and other collaborative tools barely surfaced, indicating that the application of these tools to assistive technology was under the radar. Fast forward three years to the explosive growth of online communities, blogs, and wikis. Social media are very much on people’s minds. The evolution of this new, collaborative online environment has been rapid and pervasive, and people are struggling to understand and keep abreast of new developments. As a result, NCTI developed The Power of Social Media to Promote Assistive and Learning Technologies: A Collaborative Issue Brief to (1) provide a primer on social media and how they work; (2) highlight the benefits of the new social media to promote using assistive and learning technologies for all students and especially for youth with disabilities; and (3) explore the barriers to using social media and the ways that vendors, developers, and educators can overcome them. This document is not an exhaustive report on social media and the implications for the field. Instead, it brings the issues to the field to spark further discussion, research, and action.
In a series of forums conducted from the fall of 2004 to the spring of 2005, NCTI convened a diverse group of stakeholders who had never before been brought together—researchers, developers, manufacturers, and policymakers—to explore the promise of the assistive and learning technology field and commercial sector, identify the barriers that currently inhibit the adoption and use of assistive and learning technology, and identify ways to overcome these challenges. In broad ranging discussions and surveys over several years, NCTI identified major gaps in communication among stakeholder groups as a serious barrier to collaboration, ultimately affecting the development of high quality tools for students with special needs. The forums also uncovered a range of complex external and internal factors that are converging to affect the research, development, purchase, and implementation of assistive and learning technology throughout the nation’s schools. Assistive and learning technology has the potential to grow into a significantly larger share of the education market and to serve more students more effectively if the field addresses the current challenges identified in these discussions. Moving Toward Solutions: Assistive and Learning Technology for All Students provides a prismatic look at the dynamic field of education and business professionals focused on technologies to meet special learning needs. It highlights the individual perspectives of stakeholder groups and provides a unique synthesis.