Change the world

George Campus

07/09/2015

Inclusive Education, an approach which has at its core a teaching environment in which all students, including those with disabilities and diverse needs, can thrive and excel, is much more than a global trend. It is an approach which recognises that all students need academic, emotional and social support to ensure academic success.  This is especially relevant given the great diversity of learners entering the university sphere, including learners with specific learning difficulties, with different learning styles, with mental health challenges or other disabilities.

The Inclusive Education Project which is set to be introduced at the NMMU George Campus soon through the HEADS (Higher Education Access and Development Services Unit) will embrace the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) educational framework.  It guides the design of learning goals, materials, methods and assessments with a diversity of learners in mind and provides greater flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond, demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the way students are engaged.

UDL comprises three main principles, namely: multiple means of Representation - providing students with various ways of acquiring information and knowledge; multiple means of Expression – providing alternative means for students to demonstrate what they know; and multiple means of Engagement, which is about tapping into learners’ interests and offering appropriate challenges and increasing motivation.

According to Dr Bridget Johnson, who is spearheading the pilot project at NMMU George Campus, the aim is to create an inclusive environment within which ALL students have the opportunity to succeed. Universities across the world are adopting the UDL principles to address the diverse learning needs of their students, and “…they are finding that this leads to innovative classroom practices that ultimately benefit all learners, not only those with special needs”, she enthuses.

The three phases that the pilot project will follow include a benchmarking research project; training of staff in the core principals of the programme, as well as the launch of a George Campus web page on the subject.

Click here to view the George Campus web page on the The Inclusive Education Project.