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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Activity Four ; Access and Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity

This is one explanation of universal design for learning (UDL) from the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), Wakefield, Massachusetts.  Universal Design for Learning is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.
UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone, not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.

In other words: multiple representation of content, multiple means of expression, and multiple options for engagement.  Behind this approach is the idea that individual brains receive and process information very differently, so instruction should be designed to accommodate those differences (

Through my exploration of this concept I understand the importance of designing (not adding to) the curriculum, course or programme with the students learning abilities,styles and cultures taken into consideration.  These multiple resources and multiple situations are used and adapted to meet the needs of the students.
The 'universal' part of this concept is that the product and services have been designed in such a way that they are adaptive and flexible enough to be accessed by all, universally.

An example of inclusive teaching

The example I have decided to use is of my current teaching practise, which has aspects of inclusiveness in it but could certainly be enhanced.
We offer two courses “Conference and Events” and “Industry Operation Research Project” in the School of Business through the Diploma of Applied Travel and Tourism, Level 5. This( 5 month intensive) programme has been designed to create ‘work ready’ students for the tourism industry.

How do I achieve this?
By providing an experiential environment which includes: 
  •  Wikieducator (an internet based open platform) which develops open education and training resources. Course weblogs are contributed to by staff and students to facilitate learning and reflection of experiences

  •  100 seat training restaurant (open to the public) for planning, designing and delivery of a themed dinner for “customers/delegates”
  •  A co-operative learning environment where year one students from the School of Hospitality ‘supervise’ the tourism students in the restaurant. This provides the opportunity for the hospitality students to consolidate and reflect on their learning, while using themselves as role models
  •  A dedicated classroom designed to facilitate team and individual learning through its design and layout
  By providing an experiential teaching/facilitating experience

  • Students develop their co-operative capability – through ice breakers/games that are fun, non-threatening and group based. These promote growth and positive change in individuals
  •  Team building (forming, storming, norming and performing) is learnt by students by forming a company, designing a logo, business cards and letterhead, then liaising with a ‘client’ to organise a three day conference
  •  Students plan and prepare a ‘themed dinner’ for the final night of the conference
  •  Students contribute towards the design and development of open education resources – which will be available internationally for further learning purposes through Wikieducator
 By providing opportunity to process learning through role play and work experience (making sense from what is learned)

  •  Simulated and real work environments are created providing students with an opportunity to move from awareness, to knowledge, to action
  •  Each individual brings to the course prior knowledge, strengths and weaknesses. These offer unlimited growth potential as the students learn to co-operate and develop their interpersonal-relationships
  •  Good constructive criticism is emphasized and provided in a safe environment
  •  I use key techniques of observation, listening, feedback and questioning to assist the students to  internalise their learning experience
  I encourage the students to positively manage stressful situations. The process that follows can lead to lasting change.
 Students are able to reflect on the successful delivery of the required learning outcomes: establish objectives for a conference, design of a branding image for a company, preparation of a conference portfolio (in accordance with clients requirements), investigate venue selection, process specific travel and accommodation requirements for conference and event delegates, design a themed dinner, generate a banquet event order. (In the form of a 10 minute presentation.)

Some issues for access and equity in classes 

The concept of the 'virtual' conference was hard for some of the students to grasp, so were not fully engaged in the process.

The course relied on group work and regular meetings, it was frustrating for the students when others failed to show up to meetings or did not produce the required work.
Students with english as a second language have difficulty understanding the technical industry jargon.
Peer review was used to encourage students to reflect on and review each individual in their group in regards to their contribution and work submitted.  Some students found it difficult to give constructive comments.
Not all students have access to a computer at home.

Definition of Access and Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity relevant to my professional context.

A safe environment where students have equal access to course materials, activities, interactions and assessments. Within an environment that fosters respectful behaviour, inclusive of different cultures. Able to accommodate different physical, psychological and learning abilities. 

Explain what my learners will need, to access the learning environment I plan to create.

My learners will need access to the internet and some background knowledge in orientating themselves through various programmes, e.g. e-mail, facebook, audio, online dictionary/thesaurus, blog.  This access is provided on campus, students are required to attend at fixed times but there is also opportunity for informal group sessions. They will need to be open to participating  and collaborating in setting ground rules, study groups,contributing and sharing experiences, formal speeches and reflecting on their experiences. 


Gravel, J, Ralabate, P & Thomas, L. (2010).  Framework for access and equity retrieved from

National Center on Universal Design for Learning retrieved from 

Center for applied Special Technology retrieved from

A Practical Reader in Universal Design for Learning (Rose & Meyer, Eds.; Harvard Education Press, 2006).

1 comment:

  1. Helen this is a wonderful description of the components affecting and contributing to access and equity, diversity and inclusive teaching and learning in your teaching context. Your definition makes your intentions for your students clear, but is it too big an ask? Should the teacher be expected to provide equal access for all or just optimal access?

    Your example demonstrates that even the best thought out learning activities have fish hooks for some students. How could you better scaffold students to give constructive honest feedback to their peers? Can this be modeled or does it come from practice?

    I guess the situation with team members' actions relates closely to real life - how students handle this is probably more important than the outputs when it comes to graduate attributes I mean. Then of course there is the variation in students' digital skills - lets face it, it is hard finding the 'perfect student'. At least teachers never get the chance to be bored. :)