Universal design as a pedagogical strategy and framework for inclusion
Keynote speaker: Elinor Jeanette Olaussen and Kjetil Knarlag, NTNU
Diversity is well-known as a positive value as a part of social development. Diversity includes topics such as ethnicity, social class, disabilities and variation in functional level. In international conventions like CRPD the work of diversity and disability are supported through the strategy of inclusion, which recently also has become a theme in higher education. A key challenge is that inclusion is often a strategy at a political level, while inclusion is not necessarily addressed where the students are.
In every study program, courses, classes and groups of students there is a diversity that represent something unique. All students should have the opportunity to achieve a learning outcome based on teaching methods considering the true diversity among the learners, instead of traditional learning methods addressing the mythical average student.
Simultaneously, teaching and learning are changing for all students, with new learning arenas combined with active and student-centred learning, reducing the one way- communication from the teachers. How does diversity and disability affect the development of teaching and learning, and what must be addressed in designing an inclusive learning environment? What pedagogical approaches to teaching, assessment and learning can be used to meet diversity? And is the Universal Design of Learning (UDL) the answer we are looking for?
Elinor Olaussen and Kjetil Knarlag work at Universell, which on behalf of the Norwegian Ministry of Education acts as a national unit for inclusion, universal design, individual accommodation and learning environments in Norway. In this lecture we will look at the relationship between the development of learning and teaching, and the concepts of diversity and variation in function. A central theme is to investigate whether UDL can be an educational framework for better inclusion. The role of both teachers and students is highlighted, and we will discuss whether a cultural change is needed to change practice towards a more inclusive learning environment.