Promises and perils: the affordances of technology for promoting inclusion of learners in educational settings

Hanne Voldborg Andersen, Elsebeth Korsgaard Sorensen, Rune Hagel Skaarup Jensen

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The United Nations (UN) states that people with handicaps have the same right to an education, and that all state parties are obliged to “enable persons with disabilities to learn life and social skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as member of the community” (United Nations, 2006). This implies designing and facilitating learning in alternative ways, respecting resources and new ways of communication and participation. However, when it comes to equal access and opportunities for participating and contributing in education, things appear less simple. “Physically, placing disabled children in a class with non-disabled peers is not inclusion and will not ensure the accomplishment of both their academic and social goals” (Mavrou, 2012). Overall, there is tremendous promise of technologies for supporting learning in general education processes for learners; i.e. work for empowerment, at both the personal level and the general process of socialization. According to Waller & Watkins (2013), digital technologies and tools also possess a potential for inclusion and, thus, may be viewed as valuable tools for such purposes, “particularly for people with disabilities, where technology can improve their quality of life, reduce social exclusion and increase participation” (WSIS, 2010). Much research within the area of digital support for inclusive education is characterized as exploratory work or prototype tests of possible benefits of emerging tools (Ploog et al., 2013a, Andersen & Jensen, 2017). The literature on using technologies for inclusion in real world practice is very limited (ibid.; Abbott, 2007a; Abbott et al., 2011). To establish an including school, the use of digital technologies may offer more than merely access to educational programs. At the same time, it is important to understand that education and learning is about much more than cognition. It may be assumed that the identified potential of technology for learning and inclusion automatically promotes development of new pedagogical approaches and models for learning. Though, such tendencies seem not to have any evidence. According to the European Commision (2013), the potential and promises of technology-based learning have not been realized yet, and in many cases pedagogical strategies and models, which utilize and operationalise the identified pedagogical affordances, are lacking (Waller & Watkins, 2013). Despite the onward march on digital technologies, the identification of ict-pedagogical strategies for inclusion remains a challenge (ibid.). This chapter addresses the potential of digital technologies for supporting inclusive processes of dialogue and collaboration among all learners. Viewing each learner as a unik human being (Sorensen & Andersen, 2016) and building on the pedagogical values of Universal Designs for Learning (UDL), the chapter discusses and elucidates how digital technologies may support and enhance inclusion, based on learner dialogue and collaboration. The chapter concludes - once again - with the synthesizing statement that in digital teaching and learning, technology outperform pedagogy. The authors suggest that awareness, of both the pedagogical and political level, is important. Interventive learning designs and actions are pertinent as catalysts for generating change in the use of digital technologies for education.
TitelDigital learning and collaborative practices
RedaktørerEva Irene Brooks, Susanne Dau, Staffan Selander
Antal sider10
UdgivelsesstedNew York
ISBN (Trykt)978-0-367-62255-8, 978-0-0367-61775-2
ISBN (Elektronisk)978-1-003-10857-3
StatusUdgivet - 2021


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