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Epistemological Trends in the Literature on Mobile Devices, Mobile Learning, and Learners with Visual Impairments

Hayhoe, Simon, PhD1*

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001279

ABSTRACT This study is significant because learning with mobile devices is increasing as a method of educating and training learners with visual impairments, but evaluation of its method is rare. In addition, the epistemological model used in this study is designed to improve future research designs. This article reviews the literature on the use of mobile devices by learners with visual impairments in a variety of learning environments. The study's three objectives are to pursue avenues of research in m-learning and visual impairment, stimulate debate on the nature and role of mobile technologies in the education of learners with visual impairments, and develop a debate on the best use of technologies in m-learning. The study uses an epistemological model of visual impairment as an instrument to critically analyze different ontologies and paradigms of research. The epistemological model is also analyzed as an analytical instrument. The study identifies three academic paradigms in this field: (1) conceptual, (2) design and user testing, (3) m-learning in situ. The study also finds these three paradigms ontologize visual impairment in different ways, meaning that there is little cohesion in research and practice. The study finds that research on the development and use of technologies by learners with visual impairments is restricted by a lack of cohesion in theory and practice. This lack of cohesion is thought to be largely due to the immature nature of this topic as a field of study.

1Department of Education, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath, United Kingdom *

Submitted: January 29, 2018

Accepted: July 3, 2018

Funding/Support: The author has reported no funding/support.

Conflict of Interest Disclosure: There are no known conflicts of interest. This is unfunded research by a university department.

Author Contributions and Acknowledgments: Conceptualization: SH; Data Curation: SH; Formal Analysis: SH; Investigation: SH; Methodology: SH; Supervision: SH; Validation: SH; Writing – Original Draft: SH; Writing – Review & Editing: SH.

The author would like to thank Dr. Noemi Pena Sanchez (Universidad de La Laguna, Spain) and Drs. Carla Tonin and Graziella Lunardi (Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy) for reviewing the analysis and literature.

© 2018 American Academy of Optometry