IncludEdu Aims

The purpose of IncludEdu is to help education practitioners make decisions about how they can personalise a learner’s experience through the integration of Assistive Technology into mainstream, small group or individual learning activities.

Educators can, following the identification of a specific or additional need, select relevant Assistive Technology solutions to support, promote and enhance learning.

Within the IncludEdu framework, you will discover various steps. Firstly you select from four broad areas of need a particular area of learning, next you select the nature of the learner’s specific need. At the third and final step, you will be asked to select the technology platform/s available to you e.g. Apple, Google, Microsoft. Your customised solution menu will then appear, a list of relevant add-ons, extensions, apps, hardware and software. Selecting each individual tool, the IncludEdu framework will then provide you with a breakdown of that suggestion with an overview and suggested ways of using the tool.

IncludEdu is very much intended to not only suggest supportive tools and resources to those working in education but also to parents, guardians and anyone else supporting a learner, as everyone involved can play an integral role in education and learning processes. Technology by its very nature can be used across home, school and college settings enabling learners to embed learning across multiple settings.

Rationale

Whilst arguably Assistive Technology is not going to resolve a learner’s challenges, which they may face daily in both their educational and home environment, it should be both identified and used fully as a mechanism of support. It should form part of the practitioners’ toolbox and used to supplement other teaching and/or learning experiences, in the classroom and/or at home.

Every curriculum aims to develop ambitious, capable learners, that prepare them for the rest of their lives. In this day and age, digital literacy is a necessity in the modern workplace, whilst the role of technology is vital to everyday operations, therefore, it needs to be developed from a young age and this applies to all, including and especially those learners with Additional Learning Needs.

As educators, it is our duty to be aware of the countless applications and tools available to support their learning and development, securing equal opportunities for all. Learners with difficulties or disabilities such as limited sensory perception, reading, writing and mobility may face obstacles upon beginning their working lives.

With the right guidance, learners with an additional need can equip themselves with an effective toolkit of technologies in order to overcome additional hurdles and reduce limitations being placed on attainments and achievements. Every child should be given every opportunity to reach their full potential and every possible resource utilised to this end.

History

The emergence of the digital age has seen evidence of incredible, transformational technology that is freely accessible to support learning and, in particular, will have a positive impact on those with identified learning needs.

From the introduction of extremely large laptop devices into education settings back in 1988, to the statistic that only 1.5 million iPads were being used in US schools as recently as 2012, Assistive Technology in education has been on an upward curve of positive impact ever since.

Developments over the last few decades has enabled ‘edtech’ and ‘assistive tech’ in particular to become affordable, accessible and appealing. It has also seen the emergence of 21st century developers, from individuals with an idea to large scale companies setting out to create tools, features and functions, not previously utilised in education, to support the personalisation experiences of every learner.

Dial-Up broadband, wireless broadband, the launch of the mobile device version, 4G and the soon to be available 5G alongside Assistive Technology improvements, has allowed teaching and learning to evolve dramatically as we enter the 21st century. Faster internet speeds and greater functionalities have allowed for a wide range of services to be available in real time.

About Ryan

IncludEdu has been developed following creator Ryan Evans’ extensive experience working with learners identified as having Additional Learning Needs (ALN) and his passion for Technology.

In 2020 whilst involved in Google’s Innovator Program, Ryan identified that; until Assistive Technology becomes more widely used with educators and with families having increased access and an increased understanding of how to get the most from it, it will remain only a ‘potential’ to bring about the changes it has the promise to make.

Technology, and more specifically Assistive Technology, can provide individuals with strengthened inclusive access to their curriculums through a digitally scaffolded, personalised learning experience.

As a former Head of Faculty at a Special Needs Residential School, Ryan is extremely passionate about facilitating access for EVERY pupil to curriculums that engage and inspire. 

He has witnessed a constant theme throughout schools locally, regionally, nationally and globally that staff: “don’t know what they don’t know”. Having previously worked in various education settings across Wales and more recently, across the world through his role at Aspire 2Be, Ryan feels strongly that Assistive Tech needs to become more widely used in educational establishments as he has experienced first hand the benefits and results of their use in the classroom. With statistics showing that up to 1 in 4 learners in a mainstream classroom as having an additional learning need, it only highlights the need for additional resources within most, if not all, classrooms or settings. Teachers are often unaware of the plethora of software and hardware available to support, scaffold, reassure and give further opportunities to all learners, but most especially to learners experiencing an additional need. One thoughtfully selected piece of software or hardware can enhance the learning experience of a child who may be in need of multiple opportunities to overlearn a skill before moving on to any additional steps necessary to fully accomplish a task.  

Technology has often been produced by teachers for teachers and its success will have been proven in classrooms. Tasks will have been broken down into small learning steps saving practitioners countless hours of painstaking work.

It is Ryan’s firm belief that practitioners should see a piece of software or hardware as an invaluable additional ‘adult’ or ‘friend’ in the classroom or setting. He urges educators to embrace the vast array of technologies available ensuring a brighter future and a greater wealth of opportunities, for more learners and especially learners with additional needs, when the time comes for that learner to enter the world of work.

Key Organisations

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