How technology could assist with inclusive learning

Tuesday, 07 November, 2023

How technology could assist with inclusive learning

A year-long Australian study is looking at ways whereby neurodiverse students can have access to more inclusive learning experiences.

The University of Melbourne study will partner with schools across the country to investigate the barriers to education faced by students with complex learning needs, and how classroom technology can help to support inclusive access.

The launch comes just three weeks after findings from the Disability Royal Commission brought on strong debates over the phasing out of segregated classrooms and ‘special schools’ in Australia.

Dr Matthew Harrison, senior lecturer and lead researcher at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (University of Melbourne), will spearhead the project, which has been developed in partnership with SMART Technologies. The research will, in part, explore how classroom technology can be utilised to better allow more students to participate academically and socially.

“There is currently limited research that shares the voices of young students, as well as the challenges and barriers they face at school and in classrooms, whether they have a diagnosed disability or not,” Harrison said.

“This type of research needs input from people who have lived experience with neurodivergent differences. The research study has been developed in partnership with a team of researchers who have experience living with autism and ADHD. They have also come through the Australian school system and will be able to relate to a lot of the findings we uncover and share their own insights, which will be paramount to the outcomes of the project.

“The goal of the research is to help remove barriers and create pathways for students with disabilities and learning difficulties by better understanding the different aspects of how they learn, using technology in classrooms.

“We hope that the research will help build out practices that schools can put in place to improve student outcomes both academically and socially. We also hope that the research provides insights to teachers, to gain a better understanding of student needs and help to eradicate some longstanding challenges in education by providing an outlook into the future of teaching.”

SMART Technologies will provide support on the project, including the supply of some of the latest in digital technologies and interactive displays in the classrooms involved in the research.

“The end goal in mind for us is to get real insights as to how teachers and students can make the most of technology in classrooms, and to remove any barriers so that everyone has access to learning. We focus on building connections that matter for schools, students and teachers — and it’s so important that inclusive learning environments are at the heart of that,” said Jeff Lowe, Chief Commercial Officer at SMART Technologies.

Image credit: panyawutso

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