I started writing this blog as I was departing for a flight to the USA and finished it 2 weeks later in Bermuda so please excuse some of the tangential thinking!
My initial thoughts:
As an occupational therapist, I was interested to read the slide show from Gravel, Ralabate and Thomas (2010). I am always interested in access and equity in education from the perspective of physical access to the setting.
Retro fitting is extremely important, especially as society comes to terms with main stream education and education for all. Although it was stated in the slide show that retro fitting does solve one problem, is costly and can be ugly, in order to be flexible and inclusive at a basic level, this may be needed. Yes, ideally the design from the beginning not later would be optimal, but some buildings were built years ago (when there were different views to who should attend school) and are still places of education. Being proactive in design not just for the physical environment would be ideal- however, often until we are in a situation where we need to find a solution to a problem, then funding becomes available for that particular issue to be solved. Funding sources are not great on giving funding for something that may not be necessarily used tomorrow but amenities that are good to have just in case (eg. stair master or 2 lifts or ramps).
Particularly noticeable in the USA, under the American with Disabilities Act, there is now an emphasis on access being available so this has had a huge impact on access and equity for all students- it is proactive rather than reactive- The norm rather than the anomaly.
Now, onto the questions for this week:
Describe an example of inclusive teaching: Over the past 2 years, the use of multiple means of representation (Gravel, Ralabate & Thomas, 2010) has had an impact on ensuring that students have different ways to learn and access information. An example is the use of a voice over to a PowerPoint, diagrams and a written explanation. Also included in the session was web links for in depth knowledge or exploration. Students also have access to a moodle forum for asking each other questions. Formal and informal learning networks (Rhode, 2009) also add to inclusive teaching- setting up group work for completing an analysis, the moodle forum and then informal study groups that we encourage.
Issues- Access and Equity in classes: When there is an excessive number of readings set in class, this can have an impact. Students read at different levels- so part of eliminating academic barriers is to give students the readings before coming to class, or students can elect to read segments to the class if that is easier. Good computer access is needed. This can be an added expense for students.
We also have issues with students who need to do fieldwork placements- cost, away from home, giving up employment while on placement and a new environment sometimes with lack of (face to face) social supports.
Next question- WORK IN PROGRESS: The paper by Zondiros (2008) helped me to see a broader view of the terms.
Definition for access and equity, Diversity and inclusivity: All students from diverse backgrounds, cultures, life stages and contexts will have the ability to achieve the highest standard of learning towards becoming occupational therapists by having physical access, academic support and equality in accessing all information, services and material for the learning.... I could go on to write about what may cause inequity, inaccessibility but that would be a whole paper in itself.
Now, with the definition above, I now realise I need to include that we cater to the majority of students- it would be difficult within our time frames to ensure that we plan our lessons, course outlines and fieldwork to suit each and every person- there are sometimes extraneous factors that we have no control over.
What learners will need, to access the learning environment I plan to create: In keeping up with the profession and the society of today, students would need access to a computer with Internet access. This does not necessarily need to be at their home, but in this case, students would need transport to come into the campus for periods of time. Students would also need to have the ability to work in groups and individually. With reading needed, students will need access learning services if they require assistance. On campus classes are needed however, this could be in blocks as opposed to scheduled classes each week as currently set out. Students will need to set aside time in order to study- although employment to support themselves could be used to their advantage esp. if within the health care setting.
Gravel, J, Ralabate, P & Thomas, L. (2010). Framework for access and equity retrieved from
Rhode, J.F. (2009). Interaction equivalency in self paced online learning environments: An exploration of learner preferences. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(1).
Zondiros, D. (2008). Online, distance education and globalisation: Its impact on educational access, inequity and exclusion
retrieved from http://www.eurodl.org/materials/special/2008/Dimitris_Zondiros.htm