Sunday, 29 April 2012

Week 4 Access & Equity Diversity & Inclusivity

Access & Equity Diversity & Inclusivity

1. Explore the Meaning of Universal Design and Inclusiveness in Learning
So what does universal design and inclusiveness in learning mean to me? Well after looking at the Power Point presentation which regards universal design for learning as ways to get access, to participate and  demonstrate learning results with  more equitable access for all (Rhode, 2009) I think it is not that dissimilar to occupational therapy!

As an occupational therapist in schools I provided support, assessed, organised, liaised, collaborated, implemented and evaluated changes for students in schools (primary and secondary), who were identified with special needs. My primary role was to provide students with equal ACCESS to the curriculum and to the environment, as well as enable PARTICIPATION to ACHIEVE in an inclusive setting. Occupational therapist often get involved in the problem solving process, to meet the needs of a student with special needs rather than getting involved with prevention and wider populations. However aim to achieve an all-inclusive outcome catering for everyone’s needs, providing solutions suitable for both the individual and the wider population. In other words if the schools had level access classrooms because the designer had thought about access for all in the first place, occupational therapist would not have to “repair the damage” and only in a second attempt enable the access. I do however feel equipped to make changes and enable better outcomes, be it in the environment, in people or in their occupations. Occupational therapists use a wide range of models and frameworks. One I find particularly relevant to teaching is the POE model, which looks at how occupational performance improves when there is a good fit between the person, the environment and the occupation (Watson & Wilson, 2003).
If I link the POE model to learning, I am looking at the student (e.g. gender, age, ethnicity, culture, previous learning, identified learning styles, community …), the programme (course schedules, material, course outlines, assessment outlines,), and the delivery method (class room, online learning, blended…). The better fit, the better learning.
One of the most inclusive courses I am involved in is fieldwork. The learning in fieldwork ranges from student having to access material online such as questionnaires and reading material and/or use links to resources, engage in online discussion forums to participate in on site lectures and tutorials, with lecturers facilitating work in wider class and smaller groups. Students are asked to make presentations in front of peers and role plays together to mention a few teaching methods. Students meet with guest speakers from different walks of life (occupational therapists from different practice areas, equipment suppliers, manual handling specialists etc.). Students are consulted on the delegation of placements for students, who has requested priority to placements, before they start their placement and engage in learning off site, with a supervising occupational therapist, who marks them against set competencies. Students and supervisors are encouraged to share their learning styles and problem solves matters between them, however the fieldwork team will get involved if required. I think of this course as an inclusive way of learning because it takes into account ways to optimize the occupational performance in both the student, the programme and the delivery method as outlined earlier. This course aims to provide for all the different learners regardless of who they are, where they come from, and what they believe in, providing an equal opportunity for all to optimise their participation and learning.
2. What are some issues for access and equity in your classes?
Areas for improvement are catering better for the different learning styles by e.g. adding choices of video and audio recorded material to the written text. I would also like to explore Adobe Connect as a resource for my own teaching to create sessions (and have recordings) of lectures and tutorials for students unable to make it to class.
3. Provide a definition for access & equity, diversity & inclusivity relevant to your professional context
Access and equity means: All learners regardless of who they are, where they come from, and what they believe in are provided equal opportunity to participate and learn.
4. Explain what your learners will need to access the learning environment you plan to create
An inquisitive mind is a must!!! Yes, the students will need basic entry level of knowledge (NCEA L3…) and have sufficient IT skills to engage in on-line learning, but more importantly they have to be great explorers, who dare to challenge the conventional world; be prepared to ask questions and go looking for new information and answers, while using methods, some of which we have not yet invented! All students should prepare themselves for a flexible blended delivery learning model, gathering more skills and knowledge about the course as well as the delivery methods ( Moodle, Adobe Connect etc) in preparation for their life-long learning journey ahead.
Rhode, J.(2009). Interaction equivalency in self-paced online learning environments: An exploration of learner preferences. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(1).
Watson, D. E. & Wilson, S. A; (2003). Task analysis: An individual and population approach. (2nd ed.).  American Occupational Therapy Press. Bethesda, MD.

1 comment:

  1. An excellent post Annette. Your profession as you say is all about designing optimal access so it is only natural that you are on to it when thinking about how to facilitate learning for all your students. Inquiry learning and good IT skills, as you say, is all part of the process in preparing OT students for practice in the real world. How do you think assessments in the theory papers assist in this, and how do they integrate with fieldwork?