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Newbutt, Nigel

Assistant Professor
School of Teaching and Learning

College of Education
University of Florida
2821 Norman Hall
PO Box 117048
Gainesville, FL 32611
Phone: 352-273-4214
Fax: 352-392-9193

Research Biography

Dr. Newbutt is an Assistant Professor of Advanced Learning Technologies and Director of the Equitable Learning Technology Lab (ELTL) in the Institute for Advanced Learning Technologies.  He brings many years’ experience of developing technologies with autistic, and underserved groups. This work began by exploring multimedia programs for deaf communities in the UK. Beyond this, he has also designed and evaluated learning technologies (namely: podcasting and vodcasting) in undergraduate classrooms. His PhD work examined the in-situ role of virtual worlds used with and by autistic children. This, in turn, led to developing some of the first work to practically examine the use, adoption, and preferences for virtual reality head-mounted displays with autistic groups and led to exploring VR HMDs (a range of types) in classrooms for younger groups with autism. Dr. Newbutt is at the point now of identifying and designing specific software to support outcomes and areas identified in collaboration with the autistic community.

He is currently interested in examining and developing the role that VR HMDs can play in supporting young people with autism in their daily lives, informed through their input. The aim of this work is to co-design the future of this field (VR and autism) with autistic communities and other important stakeholders.  More than this, he is interested in developing a range of innovative technologies that can help to enable people with neurodiversity.

Dr. Newbutt welcomes PhD students interested in the areas outlined above, and has gained extensive experience of working with doctoral students. He has acted as an external examiner in the UK and Ireland for PhD and EdD theses.

Dr. Newbutt is the Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Enabling Technologies and welcomes submissions on a rolling basis that meet the scope of the journal, in addition to proposals for Special Issues on aspects of Enabling, Equitable, and Advanced Technologies.


PhD (University College Dublin, 2013).  Virtual Reality Technologies for Autistic Groups

PG Diploma (University of East London, 2011). Research Methods

MA (University of Greenwich, 2010). Higher Education

BSc (Leeds Beckett University, 2001). Multimedia Technology

Key Professional Appointments

Assistant Professor, School of Teaching and Learning, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (2021-present)

Senior Lecturer (Assistant Professor), University of the West of England, Bristol, UK (2015-2021)

Senior Lecturer, Bath Spa University, Bath, UK (2013-2015)

Research Manager, SMARTlab, University College Dublin, Ireland (2011-2013)

Senior Lecturer, University of Greenwich, London, UK (2005-2011)

Lecturer, University of Greenwich, London, UK (2003-2005)

Instructional Designer, St George’s Hospital Medical School, London, UK (2001-2003)

Activities and Honors

Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Enabling Technologies (2019-present)

Evaluation Committee: 8th ACM Celebration of Women in Computing: womENcourage (ACM) (2021)

Co-Chair for session at HCI International, Washington, US: Enabling Technologies for Marginalized Groups: Removing Barriers and Improving Outcomes (2021)

Winner: Outstanding Reviewer for Journal of Enabling Technologies (2017)

Winner: Outstanding Reviewer for Journal of Assistive Technologies (2016)

Recognized for outstanding achievement as a social entrepreneur, through VIRTAUT research project by HEFCE/UnLtd. Awarded “Outstanding Teaching Staff Social Entrepreneur” (2011)

Expert Grant Reviewer, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (2017-2021)


Current (2020-present)

Co-PI: (2020-2021). Advancing Social Inclusion through Technology and EmPowerment (a-STEP).
The aim of the COST action is to build an interdisciplinary, intersectoral pan UE and beyond, network which will work to enhance social inclusion and empowerment of individuals with ASD and/or ID and their families. The action will evaluate, create, and promote the application of accessible and sustainable assistive technology across education and employment. $500,000.

PI: (2020-2021). Integrating Social Robots into School Settings: Co-Designing Robot-Enhanced Classrooms for Children with Autism.
Can a socially assistive robot effectively support the learning, social interactions, and well-being of children with a long-term mental condition? Our project is an interdisciplinary investigation of this question: how can a social robot integrate into the eco-system of a SEN (Special Educational Needs) school, and effectively support the day-to-day work of the school staff to support the development, learning, and well-being of the children. $33,500.

Co-PI: (2019-2022). Immersive Virtual Reality as a Tool for Autistic Pupils and Teachers (IVRAP).
Partnering with Spanish Lead (Universitat de Valencia) and other partners in Turkey, Belgium, and the UK, the IVRAP project is based on the combination of one of the most extended models of autism intervention on education (named Individual Work System) with the power of Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) and Hand-Tracking sensors to manipulate virtual environments. $300,000 total and $42,000 to me as Co-PI.

Selected Completed Projects

PI: (2017-2018). Virtual Reality Technologies for Autistic Groups: Social Skills Development (VRTAG- SSD).
This project brought together a range of interested parties in the area of autism and virtual reality with a view to assess the state-of-the-art in the field and develop journal outputs and a network that feeds into a research group and EPSRC grant application. $18,000.

Co-PI: (2016-2017). MentorMe3D: 3D Immersive Environments to Support Employment Opportunities for Autistic People.
This project connected IT professionals and mentors with ASD groups working in the IT professions. $20,000.

PI: (2014-2016): Virtual Reality Acceptance, Immersion, Ecological Validity, and Negative Effects of Head-Mounted Displays Used by People with Autism: A Pilot Study.
This project explored the role of VR HMDs used with autistic groups ranging from 17-53 years old and their experiences of wearing, using, and navigating virtual environments in their workplace-setting. $35,000.

Selected Publications


Schmidt, M., Newbutt, N., Schmidt, C., & Glaser, N. (2021). A process-model for minimizing adverse effects when using head mounted display-based virtual reality for individuals with autism. Frontiers in Virtual Reality. https://doi.org/10.3389/frvir.2021.611740

Newbutt, N., Schmidt, M., Riva, G., & Schmidt, C. (2020). The possibility and importance of immersive technologies during COVID-19 for autistic people. Journal of Enabling Technologies, 14(3), 187-199.

Newbutt, N., Bradley, R., & Conley, I. (2020). Using virtual reality head-mounted displays in schools with autistic children: Views, experiences, and future directions. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 23(1), 22-33.

Bradley, R., & Newbutt, N. (2018). Autism and virtual reality head-mounted displays: A state of the art systematic review. Journal of Enabling Technologies, 12(3), 101-113.

Parsons, T. D., Riva, G., Parsons, S., Mantovani, F., Newbutt, N., Eva, L. L., & Hal. T. (2017). Virtual reality in pediatric psychology. Pediatrics, 140(2), 86-91.

Newbutt, N., Sung, C., Kuo, H-J., Leahy, M. J., Lin, C-C., & Tong, B. (2016). Brief review: The use of a virtual reality headset in autism populations, a pilot study of technology acceptance and immersion. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(9), 3166-3176.

Peer-Reviewed Conference Proceedings and Book Chapters

Magkafa, D., Newbutt, N., & Palmer, M. (2021). Implementing co-design practices for the development of a museum interface for autistic children. In A. Brooks, S. Brahnam, & L. Jain (Eds.), Recent advances in technologies of inclusive well-being: Virtual patients, gamification and simulation. Springer, USA.

Robb, N., Politis, Y., Newbutt, N., Doyle, B., Kuo, H-J., & Sung, C. (2021). Participatory technology design for autism and cognitive disabilities: A narrative overview of issues and techniques. In A. Brooks, S. Brahnam, & L. Jain (Eds.), Recent advances in technologies of inclusive well-being: Virtual patients, gamification and simulation. Springer, USA.

Schmidt, M., Newbutt, N., Schmidt, C., Glasser, N., & Beck. D. (2020). A process-model for minimizing adverse effects when using head mounted display-based virtual reality for individuals with autism2019. Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), Jacksonville, USA.

Newbutt, N. (2019). Assisting people with Autism Spectrum Disorder through technology. In A. Tatnall (Ed.), Encyclopedia of education and information technologies. Springer, Switzerland.

Agusita, E., Gillet, M., Palmer, M., & Newbutt, N. (2019). Design hacks: Flips and tips for pedagogic innovation. Centre for Innovation in Higher Education (CIHE) Annual Conference 2019. Anglia Ruskin University, UK.

Newbutt, N., & Cobb, S. (2018). Towards a framework for implementation of virtual reality technologies in schools for autistic pupils. In P. Standen, S. Cobb, D. Brown, P. Gamito, & K. Appiah (Eds.), 12th International Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality and Associated Technologies in Collaboration with Interactive Technologies and Games (ITAG) (pp. 255-258). University of Nottingham, 4-6 September 2018, Nottingham, UK.

Magkafa, D., & Newbutt, N. (2018). The process of involving children with autism in the design of a museum-based application. MW18: Museums and the Web 2018, 18-21 April 2018, Vancouver, Canada.

Newbutt, N., Sung, C., Kuo, H-J., & Leahy, M. J. (2017). The potential of wearable technology (head-mounted displays) and virtual reality to support people with autism: Acceptance, challenges, and future applications. In A. Brooks, S. Brahnam, & L. Jain (Eds.), Recent advances in technologies for inclusive well-being: From worn to off-body sensing, virtual worlds, and games for serious applications (Chapter 11, pp. 221-241). Springer.

Selected Links

UF’s Educational Technology program

Institute for Advanced Learning Technologies

Journal of Enabling Technologies

Media Reports/Link to Dr Newbutt’s Research: