Smartphones and tablet computers are expected to innovate learning and teaching in numerous ways, including individualised, anytime and mobile access to learning opportunities for all. Research suggests a profound effect of mobile ICT on pedagogy and on learners. For learners with special educational needs (SEN) mobile ICT allows for an even wider individualisation of learning materials and adaptation to personal learning styles. Inclusion for people with SEN in education is a primary goal in Europe. Analyses conclude that what is good practice and provision for learners with SEN is good for all learners. However, lots of educational organizations and organisations supporting people with disabilities are not yet ready to adopt mobile ICT and to realise the potentials of this technologies for broadening inclusion.
We at aTempo believe in the potential of these new devices and have already started to use them in our training initiatives for people with learning disabilities. We estimate that these devices – with the inbuilt accessibility features – can really support to overcome the digital gap. We fully agree and support the Entelis Manifesto “Towards full digital inclusion” and see our activities as a contribution to reach this goal.
Our main activities in this field currently consist of running courses about the usage of tablets, and participating in two European projects.
In our international courses participants can learn how to use new mobile devices in education. They focus on different fields and possibilities to integrate tablets into school, adult and vocational education or in the field of education of people with additional support needs. Our 6 day courses are delivered in Dublin, Graz, Helsinki and London by an international Team. We are very interested to further develop these courses an cooperate with other partners from the Entelis network.
Information on these courses can be found in our homepage.
IncluEdu (a European wide strategic partnership) fits to the aims of the Entelis project very well. Its goal is to create an innovative, modularised further education programme for, and network of, education providers by exploiting the huge potentials of tablet computers for wider inclusion of learners with SEN. Teachers and managers will be able to link to a community of likeminded organisations that are steering towards the same goals. Becoming a member of this community will enable them to network and exchange ideas on inclusive education and on the usage of mobile technology, and to find help when needed. In the long term, the whole European education sector should benefit from the outcomes of this project in different ways: educational organizations will be enabled to better include all different kinds of learners in their educational offer. Educational staff will gain competences necessary to use tablets in inclusive teaching and learning settings. Learners with SEN will have better choices and will be more able to take part in mainstream education like anybody else. It will be worth to have a closer look in the future how to merge the results of the IncluEdu and the Entelis project.
Let’s try ICT is a European project as well. It focuses on the usage of mobile APPs and other helpful IT-tools in the context of ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care). The usage of these tools shall be increased by information tools (e.g. web based ‘APP Advisor’) and information campaigns.
Finally I would say that the Entelis network has a big potential to become an umbrella for activities like those mentioned above and could really serve as a driver for digital inclusion.
By Karl Baeck, Entelis Associate Partner aTempo