Topic 4 What to consider when designing an equal acces in education strategy?

An educator’s first task is to make sure that all his learners have an equal chance at acquiring knowledge and obtaining the confidence to gather knowledge on their own. In order to obtain the best results, some “tactical” preparations may be needed in the form of a strategy.

Even though this topic is directed at “designing an equal access in education” strategy, one should know that as a stand-alone document, but only as an annex of the general learning strategy of the educator/learning centre. As a single document, this strategy would lose its relevancy due to the multiple connections that can be traced to other parts of the general learning strategy, such as target group selection or awarding qualifications.

In order for an educator or a learning centre to design their education strategy, they must consider that the document must account for all potential learners that enters their classrooms. To that extent, their education strategy must be designed in an inclusive way so that it will be opened to either the disabled persons or socially/culturally challenged. In order for it to do that, the educator must ensure the following:

⮚To provide equitable access to appropriate digital technologies and resources, e.g. ensuring that all learners have access to the digital technologies used.To select and employ digital pedagogical strategies which respond to learners’ digital context, e.g. contextual constraints to their technology use (e.g. availability), competences, expectations, attitudes, misconceptions and misuses.

⮚To employ digital technologies and strategies, e.g. assistive technologies, designed for learners’ in need of special support (e.g. learners with physical or mental constraints; learners with learning disorders).

⮚To consider and respond to potential accessibility issues when selecting, modifying or creating digital resources and to provide alternative or compensatory tools or approaches for learners with special needs.

⮚To employ design principles for increasing accessibility for the resources and digital environments used in teaching.

⮚To continuously monitor and reflect on the suitability of the measures implemented to improve accessibility and adapt strategies accordingly.

⮚An inclusive classroom requires educators to focus on equity for all learners, which can include race and gender. But it is important to think of them all equally.

⮚Addressing bias in the classroom and course materials can help learners identify and analyze bias critically.

⮚Educators can develop self-awareness in learners by not hiding from differences, but encouraging learners to embrace them. To do this educators should use inclusive teaching strategies and techniques to actively engage learners in the classroom. These strategies can include “flipping the classroom” and varying classroom discussions by size.

⮚As faculty members and classroom leaders, educators play a critical role in setting the classroom climate and have the opportunity to set the educational tone. They have the responsibility to balance the free exchange of ideas with maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all learners regardless of their background.

The most effective way to build an inclusive learning environment comes from forming meaningful connections with learners. So what is an inclusive classroom?

Inclusion is a form of classroom management that requires taking some extra time and effort to view each learner as an individual. Educators must truly believe that each learner can succeed. If they do that they become partners in success. It’s as simple as learning to pronounce a learner’s full name correctly, as a first step. Learners should not feel the need to shorten or change their names in order to make it easier for a teacher to pronounce it.

Putting a learner’s emotional needs first is important because without feeling safe and understood, no instructional strategy will be effective. By building relationships in the classroom, learners will feel comfortable enough to come out and tell a teacher what is on their minds without having to wait for an opportunity from to do so.

Learners want to feel valued and feel like they are a part of a larger school community. By forming a bond between you and your learners and providing a sound educational framework for success, real learning will occur.

In the field of education, the well-being of learners is a necessary condition to make them feel included,

accepted, part of the class and therefore ready to learn.

Expected results:

⮚Identify educational technology suitable and effective for learners with disability;

⮚Identify educational technology to supports teachers in implementing inclusive education;

⮚Identify mobile apps relevant for inclusive education and classify them according to different factors: disability, activities (writing, reading, calculating, daily life…etc etc);

⮚Best practices on how to use educational technology as a facilitator tool in inclusive education.

Every learner needs a specific approach to have a good experience at school. The role of the educator is central to promote inclusion, access, creativity for all and also wellbeing in the classroom. Every educator must understand the power of technology that allows him to support learners overcome the difficulties caused by their disabilities.

Technology can support teachers to teach more inclusively and utilize a tool to:

⮚promote effective learn for all;

⮚allow to personalize the approach to learning:

⮚make the teaching and learning process more interactive and immersive.

When learners are more engaged they are more motivated and, consequently, they perform better. Also learners physically or socially challenged deserve to be included, motivated, supported and to have a chance to enjoy their life, whilst contributing to society.

In the field of Special Education, researchers and educators deserve a technological and digital competence to improve their learners’ with special needs skills to use technology in the educational centre, at home, and also in daily living. Using technology allow educators to be able to support their learners, also learners with disabilities in an inclusive and innovative way. The integration of technology into science curricula is a way to enhance or support student learning for educators who must learn how to implement and promote productive use of these in the classroom. In the Mishra & Koehler’ vision (2006), technological and digital competence is a fundamental skills for teachers to be successful and promote inclusion.

Within this part, we have provided the means for drafting the “equal access in education strategy”.

First, we have presented a set of priorities that need to be observed by the educator/learning centre administrator, in order to facilitate equal access for all the learners in the classroom.

After the priorities were defined, a set of expected abilities were also defined for the educator so that he would know what would be expected of him/her when setting up the learning strategy for inclusion.