Inclusive Digital Teaching Practice

Inclusive teaching to enable learning for all

flickr photo by teddy-rised shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

To celebrate the launch of our new Inclusive Digital Practice Award, supported by funding from Santander Universities, this week’s blog post will look at ideas for how technology can be used as an enabler for inclusive teaching and learning.

What do we mean by ‘inclusive’ teaching practice?

Inclusive teaching considers the variety of learners’ individual needs and requirements when delivering pedagogic practices by seeking to pro-actively engage, enable and involve all students.

Inclusivity is one of the fundamental aspects for educators to take into account at any point during the design and delivery of teaching, learning and assessment. 

Examples may include:

  • Using appropriate language and context appropriate for people from different cultures, backgrounds and abilities.
  • Creating teaching resources and information in a format which is accessible for everyone, including those with learning difficulties or impairment.
  • Using a variety of mediums and styles of communication to enable multiple modes of learning.
  • Planning exercises which encourage students to participate and become actively involved in their own learning.
  • Involving students through group work and peer learning activities to develop collaborative, communication and problems solving skills.

Aside from the pedagogic benefits of inclusive practice, there are a number of other reasons why it’s important to consider for anyone involved in teaching in higher education.

Why should your teaching practice be inclusive?

As a university which caters towards a diverse student body, it is the ethical and social responsibility of educators to as best as possible, create a learning environment which provides equal opportunities for all students to learn, succeed and create a positive experience.

“Student feedback and National Student Survey (NSS) scores show that variables such as gender, ethnicity and social background affect satisfaction.” from Jisc Deliver an inclusive digital experience

Government proposals for changes to the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) are planned to be introduced during 2016/17. Funding and support for disabled students from the government is set to reduce in some areas with the expectation that universities will take on more of this responsibility. Academics can ensure that students continue to be provided with the necessary support through inclusive teaching methods.

The Equalities Act (2010) also includes implications for those working in further and higher education to prevent discrimination against age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

How can technology be used to enable inclusive teaching?

There are many ways in which technology can be used to empower and provide an inclusive experience for learners, some of which I will explore in this section.

  • Lecture recordings
    Lecture recordings are commonly used by many students as a revision aid, however they are especially useful for students where English is not their first language or for those who have cognitive or physical challenges with note-taking during lectures. Lecture recordings can help students to review concepts which they may have struggled to understand the first time, enable them to add to their notes and work at their own pace. The Study Skills at Sussex (S3) website provides information for students on good practice for using lecture recordings.
  • Audio-visual
    When used appropriately, audio-visual materials can be a powerful resource for explaining concepts and ideas which are easier to interpret and digest through different modes of presentation. Create your own podcasts or screencast videos or use clips from existing films, documentaries or tv programmes to deliver a multimodal learning experience for your students.
  • Mobile learning
    Recent data indicates that approximately 25% of students access the University of Sussex virtual learning environment – Study Direct – from either a tablet or mobile phone. Consider delivering materials in alternative formats, for example Ebooks which are designed to take full advantage of mobile technology to provide accessible, searchable content available from anywhere. Last week’s blog post Create an Ebook! is filled with ideas which can be used within teaching and learning.
  • Apps and technologies
    There are also many mobile apps and technologies which can be used to facilitate peer learning and small group activities to enable students to foster a sense of community and encourage them to take ownership of their learning. Ideas for collaborative learning, mind-mapping, presentations and more were recently discussed in the learning together blog post.
  • Gamification of learning
    TEL Innovation Scheme winner (2014/15) Dr. Dimitra Petropoulou (School of Business, Management and Economics) used online multiplayer games based learning to facilitate teaching of oligopoly and games theory by making students work with and against each other to explore the consequences of different scenarios.
  • Student Response Systems
    For large group teaching, student response systems (as explored in this blog post) when used effectively are ideal tools to encourage participation during lectures. The anonymity of response provided by tools such as Poll Everywhere of Clickers make it easy to involve students who may otherwise shy away from speaking up in front of a large audience.

If you would like to get a better idea of how technology can be used as an enabler for inclusive practice, contact your school learning technologist who will be happy to advise and discuss ideas using the learning technologies available to staff at Sussex.

Inclusive Digital Practice Award applications for funding now open!

Technology Enhanced Learning are delighted to introduce the Inclusive Digital Practice Award, supported by funding from Santander Universities.

Staff at the University of Sussex are invited to apply for funding of up to £5000 to support projects which seek to overcome accessibility barriers, improve the inclusiveness of digital teaching and assessment approaches and enable the full and active participation of all students in their learning. Please complete and submit your application form by 5pm on Wednesday 23rd March, 2016. For full details of the award, please see the Technology Enhanced Learning website.

Inclusive teaching awards, sponsored by Santander Universities

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