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Inclusive Education: Enhancing the student experience through simple learning technologies

Hall, NA and Velez-Colby, F (2011) Inclusive Education: Enhancing the student experience through simple learning technologies. In: Education in a Changing Environment: 6th International Conference.

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Abstract

There is increasing demand and legislative requirement for inclusive forms of teaching and learning that facilitate the needs of a diverse range of students with different backgrounds and abilities (SENDA 2001). As widening participation and the number of students with learning disabilities in Higher Education (HE) increases, approaches toward the teaching of all students must become more inclusive. With larger class numbers, learners with quite minor special needs can often feel singled out by traditional learning methods. Conversely; time pressures on teaching staff often makes it difficult to give additional help to students with special needs. Research suggests that learning technologies can support a more inclusive learning environment that facilitates the learning of all students and can reduce the amount of additional help students require. This paper provides evidence from an action research study, which introduced the use of simple learning technologies (SLTs) into the teaching, learning and assessment of two taught modules in Art and Design at the University of Salford. The study’s overall objective was to assess whether HE lecturers can enhance the learning experience and achievements of students with learning disabilities, whilst delivering challenging and inclusive education for all. After interacting with the SLT’s introduced, 90 students participants were asked to fill out a semi-structured questionnaire reviewing their learning experience. The results of this quantitative study are analysed and discussed to in response to the aim of the study. Specifically, the paper provides: 1. A review of the issues surrounding learning disabilities in HE 2. Research methodology 3. Preliminary results of the study 4. Analysis & conclusions. For the purpose of this study SLT’s are defined as ‘existing ICT tools that can be delivered via the virtual learning environment (VLE) at the University of Salford that don’t require additional training or additional time to implement into the existing module structure’. 1 Primary evidence from the study illustrates how the SLT tools introduced have enhanced the students’ learning experience. All students have achieved improved grades in comparison to the same taught module the year before. In particular, those students with learning disabilities have markedly improved their grades.

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