- reduce the cost of supporting learner achievement
- provide a framework for addressing new requirements and responsibilities – without increasing the risk of exclusion
- identify opportunities for technology to extend and improve engagement and encourage innovative teaching practice at the same time
The accessibility and inclusion subject specialists help Jisc members find practical, effective ways to support non-traditional learners in the widest sense. That includes people with physical and/or mental health difficulties, returners, people from poorer socio-economic backgrounds and others such as carers, whose personal responsibilities have so far limited their learning and employment options. But, inclusive practice has benefits for everyone.
As you’d expect, our approach emphasises the use of digital technologies. This is very much in line with government intention. Across the UK nations educational providers are being asked to shoulder the responsibility for ensuring wider access and evidencing a positive impact on the recruitment and retention of disadvantaged students.
The truth is, while inclusive practice is an important part of a fair and just society, it also makes sound business sense. Inclusion opens up new opportunities for delivery. It increases independence and therefore reduces costs and risk. It meets student expectations and enhances their satisfaction. It improves retention and achievement by supporting more engaging teaching.
An inclusive approach to digital strategy is both innovative and sustainable, because it is designed to be responsive to individual learners needs.
It’s flexible and responsive
…to the needs of the majority of learners. It promotes learner independence, improves staff digital skills and encourages innovation.
Tip: It’s important to involve learners and staff in planning IT. Take a similarly collaborative approach to infrastructure development and you’re likely to find that there are fewer additional needs (and costs) at critical points down the line.
…and gives learners different ways to engage and participate; it designs out unnecessary barriers.
Tip: Through effective use of technology, learners can take part in fieldwork even if they can’t get out into the field.
It improves engagement
…because it enhances teaching practice with well-designed, rich, media-based activities.
Tip: Interactive quizzes enable learners to collaborate, work at their own pace and check their understanding as they progress. At the same time, teachers can check easily on a learner’s progress and intervene if needed.
It drives expansion…
…by identifying opportunities for wider access. Learners who can’t (or choose not to) attend campus can access their course remotely and collaborate in online activities. They can learn when, where and however is best for them.
It builds digital capability and student employability…
by providing a framework for extending the use of technology-based teaching ( Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG) recommendations and the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – maximising personalisation and differentiation without increasing the risk of exclusion. Ask yourselfhow you ensure…
- that staff have the digital skills to support all learners
- that your investment in technology maximises digital engagement and participation
- you avoid the risk that learning content or communications create more problems than solutions
Ensure a digitally capable culture by encouraging the digital skills that staff need to design, deliver and assess digital activities that meet all students needs and encourage digital independence in all their students.
Tip: Different approaches become possible for learners who struggle to take notes in lectures, and essays need no longer be the go-to assessment vehicle. How about videos or podcasts instead?
It enables every learner to be more independent…
…improving their outcomes and cutting the cost to providers of supporting their learners. It’s the ultimate student-centred approach. Enough said!
In the meantime, you might be interested some further reading from the following blog posts:
- Describing how digital technology can transform learning for someone with a physical disability
- Who needs to be considered and involved in development of a digital strategy
- Having an inclusive vision for ILT
- The cost of non-compliance with funder requirements on inclusion
- Developing organisational approaches to digital capabilities