Centre for Research into Assistive Learning Technologies

The Centre was established in November 2011, following a generous gift from an anonymous donor. The aim of the Centre is to focus on new developments in the application of digital technologies to support the learning and educational achievement of young people in school and higher education with a range of specific learning difficulties, both cognitive and physiological. This is an area of considerable relevance within the College, as the application and development of new technologies reflects the central interests of several Kellogg Fellows, as does the related topic of educational research.
The College also has a number of students, past and present, who have studied for the MSc in Learning and Technology (previously eLearning), some of whom have gone on to read for DPhils in this area.
Research Review

A substantial research review was carried out throughout the first year of the Centre’s work, covering current and recent initiatives and achievements in the field of assistive learning technologies from a wide range of academic and professional disciplines. The review aimed to build up a broad picture of the state of research in this field, while also identifying the existing challenges and the topics that still require more investigation.

The published report - 'Current Perspectives on Assistive Learning Technologies' - highlights the fact that assistive technologies can provide a positive means of helping to enable learning, and a great deal of work has been conducted on this topic from a broad range of disciplines. Research has greatly increased our understanding of the needs of learners and young people with special educational needs, including methods for overcoming the challenges to conducting research in this area. New developments such as mobile technologies have been gathering support from many sources, as they have been shown to have the potential for providing strong benefits to learners.
However, the report also identifies the inconsistency of provision for learners, and highlights a recognised need for researchers to consider the wider context of use beyond the classroom, including the involvement of families and implications for lifelong learning.

Other Activities

The Centre is working on a number of projects at present, relating to assistive learning technologies and support for learners with special educational needs. These include:

  • Exploring the specific use of different mobile and tablet technologies in special schools. A generous donation of Thinkpad Android tablets from Lenovo has facilitated part of this research, which will be developed over the next few years.


  • Working with researchers at Southampton University and Kings College London to investigate issues of conducting ethical research in the field of assistive learning technologies, with respect especially to the involvement of vulnerable children and young people


  • Investigating the efficacy of using mobile phones to support the English language learning of disadvantaged young adults in Dharavi, Mumbai.


The 'Current Perspectives on Assistive Learning Technologies' review has been made available as a printed booklet, and is now also available for download in pdf format (see below).
If you would like to request a copy of this document in another format please contact the Centre.
For any enquiries about the Centre please contact Laura Hakimi (laura.hakimi@education.ox.ac.uk)

Current Perspectives on Assistive Learning Technologies.pdf1.51 MB