Inclusive Practice Through Technology

Overview

This page will cover digital inclusion in three key areas: 

  • learning spaces; 
  • course materials and resources;
  • assessment and feedback. 

Digital inclusion takes into account the variety of learning styles and contexts in which students may be studying – whether this is full-time, part-time, blended learning or distance learning.

Principles of Digital Inclusion

  • Flexible and responsive to the needs of the majority of learners;
  • Makes things ‘useable’ and designs out any unnecessary barriers to access;
  • Improves learner engagement by enhancing teaching practice;
  • Drives expansion by proving opportunities to work remotely;
  • Builds digital capability and student employability, maximising personalisation and differentiation in line with the Teaching Excellence Framework;
  • Enables every learner to be more independent through its student-centred approach.

Refer to JISC for further information about digital inclusion.

Productivity Tools

Assistive technologies are often referred to as productivity tools as their use is not restricted to those with a disability.  

Inclusion and Disability

Staff should be aware that the USW Disability Service recommends a number of different technologies to support students. These include the mind-mapping software Inspiration, screen reader and magnifier Superova, RNIB Bookshare, Class Notes apps, screen reader Window Eyes, and the AMIS DAISY format reader. 

Top Tips for Inclusivity

Here are Jisc’s top tips for digital inclusivity.

Learning takes place within a learning space. These learning spaces can include

  • Classrooms or lecture theatres on a campus
  • The library 
  • Meeting or social spaces 
  • Blackboard
  • Virtual meeting or social spaces
  • Online access to books and journals via the internet, online library catalogue and e-books

How technology can help

Panopto

Using the University’s lecture capture tool you can record lectures while you are giving them. You can also use the desktop recorder to make videos or narrated presentations any time that suits you. The software will also allow you to stream yourself live. Using Panopto means that: 

  • Students who are unable to access the physical learning space can attend lectures and view lecture material at a different location;
  • Students on a blended learning or distance learning courses can attend lectures from wherever they are at whatever time suits them;
  • Students can be engaged through the comments and discussion features of Panopto;
  • Students who prefer to learn by watching videos can use the lecture recordings to be more effective in their revision; 
  • Barriers to participation for disabled students who experience difficulties in lecture scenarios as a result of sensory impairments, specific learning difficulties, memory and processing issues, social and communication difficulties and mental health concerns are removed. 

Campus FindaRoom

FindaRoom can help students to locate the teaching room that they need to be in on each of the university’s campuses. You can provide links to teaching rooms in your announcements.

Audience Response Tools

Audience response tools allow students to contribute anonymously and silently, and when used within a learning space can widen student participation. The university’s supported audience response tool is Vevox

Using Vevox students can

  • ask questions; 
  • answer questions; 
  • engage in discussions;
  • complete quizzes and check learning.

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard has a number of collaboration tools that can allow you to communicate and collaborate with your students online. The in-built Blackboard Collaborate tool can enable you to

  • Meet with students or groups of students who are unable to attend meetings or seminars;
  • Record those meetings for review by those attending and not attending;
  • Provide a secure online meeting space for group work that does not require all students to be in the same place; 
  • Bring guest lecturers, specialists, and other professionals into your classroom who students may not otherwise get the opportunity to meet. 

Additionally Blackboard discussion forums and Blackboard blogs can help students to work together online. 

Tips for achieving a digitally inclusive learning space

  • Follow the university Mobile Devices in the Classroom policy allowing students to use technology such as laptops, tablets and mobile devices for learning in the classroom;
  • Record lectures live, or pre-record material;
  • Vary pedagogy to suit the needs of a variety of learners and use technology to support this e.g. using a partially flipped classroom approach;
  • Be aware of and engage in the use of technology to create online learning spaces;
  • Organise layout and appearance of Blackboard modules so that they meet with the Module Minimum Requirements Policy and are consistent across courses to help students navigate in the digital space. 

Helpful links

Digitally inclusive materials meet accessibility needs through their design and the mode of delivery. 

How technology can help

Blackboard

Students access learning materials for courses and modules through Blackboard. Using the university’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) you can produce digitally accessible course content.

  • Produce written documents that meet digital inclusivity standard guidelines using the new functionality within Blackboard to check and improve document accessibility scores (Blackboard Ally);
  • Use course blogs, discussion forums and journals functions to create new ways for students to engage with course content;
  • Produce course material using a variety of media, for example podcasts and videos;
  • Use library-supported e-books within reading lists where possible to increase access for students.

Sensus Access

SensusAccess provides Inclusion Technology that allows students and staff to automatically convert documents into a range of alternate media including audio books, e-books and digital braille. The service can also be used to convert inaccessible documents such as image-only PDF files, JPG picture and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations into more accessible and less tricky formats.

Office 365 

There are useful guides on how to create accessible documents produced by Microsoft. 

On all Office 365 programs you can use the Accessibility Checker to find accessibility issues. 

Tips for achieving digitally accessible resources

  • Use best practice guidelines for creating inclusive documents when creating from scratch;
  • Identify unsuitable course documents and recreate them, or work with the library to source inclusive alternatives;
  • Where possible use readily available resources/online resources for core texts;
  • Produce course material using a variety of media;
  • Organise layout and appearance of Blackboard modules so that they are consistent across courses;
  • Incorporate accessibility into planning.

Helpful links

Digital tools can increase student access to formative and summative assessment, and to important feedback. 

Assessment: How technology can help

Assistive exam tools for summative examinations

The Disability Service provide information for staff on how to make reasonable adjustments / facilitate access arrangements for in year in class tests

Blackboard

You can use the functions available within Blackboard to set up assessments in the form of:

  • Blogs
  • Journals
  • Wikis
  • File upload submissions (a wide range of file types are supported)

Panopto

Students submit audio and video assignments to the Panopto cloud. To be able to accept student assignments you need to set up an assignments folder within your module on Panopto. Students can then upload recordings made on any device to this folder using the Panopto app or direct to the cloud using a PC/Mac. Students have free access to the Panopto recorder, which they can use to create their assignments if they choose.

Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint can be used to record narrated presentations for formative or summative assessment. To use this function install PowerPoint onto your PC or device (it is not currently available through the online version of Office365). Presentations with narrations can be saved as a video file and then uploaded to Panopto. 

Turnitin

You can use the Peer Review feature within Turnitin for formative and summative assessment tasks. 

Feedback: How technology can help

Turnitin

  • Use the peer review function within Turnitin to allow students to provide feedback to each other for formative assessment purposes.
  • Use the voice comments feature within Turnitin as well as the written comments area to leave feedback to students on their work.

Panopto

  • Use the comments feature within Panopto to leave voice or written feedback for your students on their work.
  • Use Panopto to create talking mark schemes or record general feedback for classes on their assessments.

Tips for achieving digitally inclusive assessment and feedback

  • Use Blackboard to keep your module content well organised within folders and only create assessments within the Assessments Folder; 
  • Use the comments function within Turnitin to record audio feedback for students, or use Panopto; 
  • Diversify assessment methods away from written assignments, for example use narrated video presentations, portfolios, wikis, journals or blogs;
  • Build flexibility and equivalencies into assessment, to allow students to submit through a variety of media to meet the same criteria;
  • Produce and use a talking mark scheme for formative and peer assessment.

Helpful links