Problematizing the inclusion agenda in higher education: Towards a more inclusive technology enhanced learning model

Denise Wood


The focus on inclusive approaches to higher education and increasing availability of educational technologies designed to enhance student communication and collaboration has led to new opportunities for widening participation and improving the learning outcomes of students from diverse backgrounds. However, despite the potential, the principles of inclusive education are often applied in ways that serve to further disenfranchise the very students the approach seeks to support. This paper draws on research undertaken through funding support provided by the Australian Government, Office for Learning and Teaching in presenting the case for teachers to adapt their learning and teaching strategies to address an increasingly diverse student population and to adopt more transformative pedagogical approaches to engaging all students with “difference”. This paper explores issues of particular relevance to the design of technology enhanced learning that is inclusive of the diverse needs of higher education students with disabilities, however, the term “diverse students” is preferred, acknowledging the transient nature of some disabilities, the varying ways in which individuals choose to identify, the multiple layers of equity overlap, and the benefits of inclusive design of technology enhanced learning for all students. The inclusive education approach presented in the paper incorporates accessibility, usability, personalization and transformative pedagogy within a holistic model, as well as strategies for implementation at the institutional, program and individual student level. This paper concludes by arguing for more transformative approaches to understanding diversity and strategies for implementing inclusive design of technology enhanced learning in the higher education context.

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