(Floe) Considerations for using and designing inclusive technologies for the educational setting

What's inclusion?

In education, the word inclusion is sometimes used to simply describe a student with a disability placed in a regular classroom. However, the simple placement in mainstream education alone, doesn't cover the entire meaning of inclusion. According to us, inclusion is an educational paradigm that requires that the school environement should be adapted to better serve the needs of all the students. Inclusion is for everyone and it cuts with a previous paradigm in education "integration". When talking about integration, we admit that it is up to the student to make the necessary effort to adapt to the school setting and environment. Nowadays, inclusion is a collective choice. All teachers must be prepared to deal with the diffrences in the learning styles, prefrences, abilities and needs of their diverse students.

Considerations for using and designing inclusive technologies for the educational setting

The context of inclusion is more restrictive than that of exclusion (special class or special school) because it imposes many constraints to be respected according to peers without disabilities, particularly in schools (schedule to meet, program cover, etc..). From this point of view, when teaching in an inclusive setting and when designing or creating inclusive technologies, it is important to:

•Select/develop technologies that are: 1) flexible, 2) simple and intuitive, and 3) have a large margin of error tolerance and  4) present  perceptible information (the principles of the Universal design for learning)

This part is to be developped later in order to see the meaning and the contributions of the UDL's principles in making OER inclusive

•consider the role of peers (the other students without disabilities) 

•provide the students with disabilities with technology or options to modify the technology that meets the taste of their peers of similar age and without disabilities

• provide the students with disabilities with technologies which value them in the eyes of their peers without disabilities of similar age  (increase their self esteem)

• include in the design, the evaluation of the aesthetics of the technology by peers of both sexes without disabilities

• ensure that the technologies do not lead to higher costs of learning to the students with disabilities than those made by peers without disabilities of similar age (instead of moving forward in their learning, we focus on the use of the technology: "pedagogical stubbornness".)
• provide measures to ensure that the  technologies and the strategies used to facilitate the teaching and  the learning of the student with disability do not ostracize him  in the eyes of his peers

• ensure that the technology or the flexibility options used to accomodate the students with disabilities do not harm their peers without disabilities and, if possible, they help them (for eg. : the use of a flexibilty option requires more time and effort from the teacher at the expense of the other students)
• provide technology that can be used by students of similar ages, with or without disabilities

• provide the possibility that the students with disabilities work with technologies in teams with peers in the classroom
• provide mentoring arrangements between the students with disabilities and their peers (mentoring relationships)

• prevent the consolidation of the dependencies of the student with disabilities to his peers • prevent the consolidation of the dependencies of the student with disabilities to the teacher

•provide explanations to peers about the importance of encouraging the students with disabilities to use the technology by him self (risk of overprotection / overdependence)

• equip teachers for the supervision of a peer tutoring

• empower the teacher to evaluate the use of technology by students with disabilities
• provide peer with explanations to enable them to understand and accept the difference (risk of discrimination)

Source : This work is a part of the Phd Thesis of Hajer Chalghoumi.