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TINEL

Project Information

ProjectTINEL
Duration1.10.2018-31.12.2021
PartnersThe Association of Finnish eLearning Centre (NGO), University of Jyväskylä
Lund University Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
University of York
Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK).
FundingThe Erasmus+

Towards Inclusive eLearning: Improving Accessibility of eLearning in Higher Education from Universal Design for Learning perspective.

The overall ambition of TINEL was to contribute in a shift from the notion of accessibility for separate so called “vulnerable” or “disadvantaged” groups to an inclusive mindset based on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) thinking. The project improved inclusive eLearning from UDL perspective by producing new knowledge for greater understanding and responsiveness to social, ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity on three levels: 1) inclusive eLearning practices and use of UDL in facing different needs of higher education students on national and transnational levels; 2) innovative pedagogical and technological skills and support network for educators; 3) a training model to begin sensitizing faculty and staff on the issues for designing inclusive e-learning within the context of UDL.

The project was carried out in cooperation between six partners, one NGO and five higher education institutions from Finland, Sweden, Norway, and United Kingdom. The project objectives were: 1) to map and explore inclusive practices of eLearning and implementation aspects of UDL in HEIs 2) to develop an evaluation tool and a training model for improving eLearning accessibility from UDL perspective 3) to develop pedagogical and technological skills of staff for improving inclusive eLearning from UDL perspective.

Main project activities were: 1. Joint Open Call for submission of The Best inclusive eLearning and UDL practices in HEIs; 2. Transnational Best Practices Conference on inclusive eLearning and UDL; 3. Developing an Evaluation Tool and a Training model for inclusive eLearning and implemented UDL along with processing cases from each participant HEIs; 4. Teaching staff and processing UDL cases at Camps followed by Webinars and workshop sessions; 5. Producing UDL learning material to support the training process described above; 6. Transnational Closing conference.

The Erasmus+ funded project was carried out during 1.10.2018-31.12.2021 in cooperation between six partners, The Association of Finnish eLearning Centre (NGO), University of Jyväskylä from Finland, Lund University from Sweden, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) from Norway and University of York from United Kingdom. The project was coordinated by Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK).

Target Group

The overall ambition of TINEL was to contribute in a shift from the notion of accessibility for separate so called “vulnerable” or “disadvantaged” groups to an inclusive mindset based on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) thinking.

Target Area

The project improved inclusive eLearning from UDL perspective by producing new knowledge for greater understanding and responsiveness to social, ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity on three levels.

This Tool was originally developed only for self-evaluation purposes of Camp participant’s UDeL cases, and to be used for process evaluation and for getting feedback throughout the course of running the case.

The UDeL Context Cards are part of the staff training material developed during the TINEL Project. They show a wide variety of situations a proactive teacher can prepare for.

The core of the TINEL training model is the UdeL camps, where staff at higher education institutions discuss the challenges facing diverse students and how to support them.

Project results

What is UDL and UDeL?

UDL (Universal design for learning) is a framework that provides scientific guidelines for design and development of curriculum. UDL is focused to make learning accessible for all. UDeL (Universal design for e-learning) has the same guidelines but they are focused to make e-learning more accessible for all.

Intro 2 to Inclusive learning and UDeL

In this introduction video 2 Elinor J. Olaussen, Senior Adviser from Universell, Norway presents from the UDeL perspective the concepts of universal design, universal design of ICT and universal design of learning (UDL) as well as related international regulations.

More about UDL

Universal Design is a framework originally created to make products and buildings accessible for all. The most used definition is from the UN Convention on the Rights for People with Disabilities (CRPD:2008):

“Universal design” means the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. “Universal design” shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of persons with disabilities where this is needed.

It is important to understand the ideas of universal design before we try to implement these ideas in a learning context. So how do we use these thoughts and this definition to plan for a diverse student population? What will the practical implications be for students and staff working in higher education?

Universal design of the physical learning environment is quite easy to understand. As an example, entering a higher education building should be possible for all. The entrance should be easy to find, without any obstacles or physical barriers, with automatic door openers and with good contrasts at the door. This is the same entrance for everyone, regardless if you use a wheelchair, have your hands occupied with books and study material, or if your hand function is reduced. In a university campus, universal design should be the strategy for forming the physical environment everywhere. Universal design of the digital learning environment has more recently emerged as a strategy in planning for the use of ICT in an educational context. General information, learning management systems, literature and other digital study material should be presented in accessible formats, and in compliance with standards that include students with difficulties in accessing digital study material. For example, a video used for learning reasons should be captioned to the benefit for the hearing impaired, and better quality for all students.

Universal design for learning (UDL) is a framework for instruction, dialogue and learning, which uses the principles from both universal design and from learning science and neuroscience. The result is scientific guidelines for design and development of curriculum – learning goals, means of assessment, teaching methods and learning materials – that are inclusive and valuable for all learners.

The development of guidelines will promote an educational practice that provides variation and flexibility in the way information is presented, in the way students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the way students are engaged in their learning process.

UDL will reduce barriers in all kinds of instruction, and provide support and challenges to the diversity of learners, regardless of disabilities of any kind. The UDL principles will be important to the development of new teaching and learning methods, and affect how we look at teaching in the classroom, in group activities at campus, and at all kinds of digital learning, as well as at assessment.

All learners are different, they learn differently and the diversity that truly exists in your class is a normal variability that actually reflects the population. The differences in how students learn are expanding, and the context – the learning environment – is itself complex and dynamic. UDL addresses the variations between the learners and focuses on the learning process by providing

  • Multiple means of engagement
  • Multiple means of representation
  • Multiple means of action and expression

In this context, the differences between students in any context is an actively positive force in learning. UDL will provide an approach for designing learning environments that support high expectations and results for all students.

N

Intro 2 to Inclusive learning and UDeL

In this introduction video 2 Elinor J. Olaussen, Senior Adviser from Universell, Norway presents from the UDeL perspective the concepts of universal design, universal design of ICT and universal design of learning (UDL) as well as related international regulations.

More about UDL

Universal Design is a framework originally created to make products and buildings accessible for all. The most used definition is from the UN Convention on the Rights for People with Disabilities (CRPD:2008):

“Universal design” means the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. “Universal design” shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of persons with disabilities where this is needed.

It is important to understand the ideas of universal design before we try to implement these ideas in a learning context. So how do we use these thoughts and this definition to plan for a diverse student population? What will the practical implications be for students and staff working in higher education?

Universal design of the physical learning environment is quite easy to understand. As an example, entering a higher education building should be possible for all. The entrance should be easy to find, without any obstacles or physical barriers, with automatic door openers and with good contrasts at the door. This is the same entrance for everyone, regardless if you use a wheelchair, have your hands occupied with books and study material, or if your hand function is reduced. In a university campus, universal design should be the strategy for forming the physical environment everywhere. Universal design of the digital learning environment has more recently emerged as a strategy in planning for the use of ICT in an educational context. General information, learning management systems, literature and other digital study material should be presented in accessible formats, and in compliance with standards that include students with difficulties in accessing digital study material. For example, a video used for learning reasons should be captioned to the benefit for the hearing impaired, and better quality for all students.

Universal design for learning (UDL) is a framework for instruction, dialogue and learning, which uses the principles from both universal design and from learning science and neuroscience. The result is scientific guidelines for design and development of curriculum – learning goals, means of assessment, teaching methods and learning materials – that are inclusive and valuable for all learners.

The development of guidelines will promote an educational practice that provides variation and flexibility in the way information is presented, in the way students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the way students are engaged in their learning process.

UDL will reduce barriers in all kinds of instruction, and provide support and challenges to the diversity of learners, regardless of disabilities of any kind. The UDL principles will be important to the development of new teaching and learning methods, and affect how we look at teaching in the classroom, in group activities at campus, and at all kinds of digital learning, as well as at assessment.

All learners are different, they learn differently and the diversity that truly exists in your class is a normal variability that actually reflects the population. The differences in how students learn are expanding, and the context – the learning environment – is itself complex and dynamic. UDL addresses the variations between the learners and focuses on the learning process by providing

  • Multiple means of engagement
  • Multiple means of representation
  • Multiple means of action and expression

In this context, the differences between students in any context is an actively positive force in learning. UDL will provide an approach for designing learning environments that support high expectations and results for all students.

The first objective of the TINEL project was to map and explore inclusive practices of eLearning and implementation aspects of UDL approach in higher education institutions. For these purposes, an open Call for Submission was announced 2019. From all proposals four were selected and compiled to a freely available corpus of best practices to help staff in higher education institutions to support the widest diversity of students, regardless of backgrounds, experiences, learning styles and abilities. The four chosen best practices are: 

  • FIN, Aalto University: Nordic Rebels: A Blended Approach to Fix Higher Education
  • NO, University of Agder: Digital competency – An introductory course to digital tools for education and collaboration 
  • FIN, HAMK: The Video Documentary “Songs from the Life” as a part of final thesis of three students (Bachelors of Social Services)
  • FIN, University of Jyväskylä: Crossing borders without travel: Virtual exchange practices for student. 

The case Crossing borders without travel 

describes a top-down, proactive approach. The initiative originates at the department level, which encouraged the teacher to introduce the possibility of virtual exchange (VE) visits as well as physical exchange visits into a campus-based course. The case considers students who are able-bodied as well as students with different challenges. Students have a possibility to gain experience from intercultural dialogues with students from different countries. The common way is study exchanges, but this is not a preferred solution for all students for financial, family, work, personal or health reasons. Students might not be able to afford such a visit, or are too shy, to go abroad for a long period, or circumstances could be such that they need to work or take care of a family member at home. VE was the solution to this problem, changing the course from being only campus-based to be a blended learning course with a multitude of interaction possibilities between students. The focus from the teacher is pedagogic solutions and accessible technology, which is decided between collaborating students from different countries.

The case Nordic Rebels has a more philosophical and reflective perspective about how students learn in society and furthermore how university courses and pedagogy should change from being lecture-based to being student-focused, by creating meaningful learning experiences for all students. Blended learning and flipped classroom methods are presented as good examples of how technology can help in going this direction. The case describes a top-down, proactive approach at the societal and course levels, and portrays UDL as a solution and an aid to understanding academic diversity and individual differences among students, for example a “mixture of nationalities, genders, disciplines and prior work experience” as well as considering “students working alongside their studies” and being able to study at their own pace, due to varying English skills or prior experience in the subject. Also, by giving the students a sense of course flexibility, the teacher can lower the threshold and allow the students to suggest course changes that support their learning.

The case Digital competency provides a proactive approach to UDeL at course level. Teachers planned and thoroughly tested the accessibility of a new eLearning course with a target group of students who have challenges with sight, hearing and language. The focus was largely on technical accessibility of the learning platform and content and on a diversity of students with disabilities.

The case Songs from life describes the teacher-student level approach in which the teacher needs to react to a problem that arises during a course to accommodate a specific student situation. This situation was not planned or predicted before the start of the course, but the teacher became aware of a situation and a specific pedagogical solution for a student with difficulties in concentration and textual expression. The solution was to allow the student to make a video documentary. Further on, this could be planned as an alternative for all students when the course is given again. This is one way of moving towards UDL step by step. When a teacher becomes aware of a student’s preferences, the solutions to this increased diversity will be consciously planned in the future to improve the course for all students.

Read more about the rewarding of best practices

TINEL Conference on universal design for blended and e-learning in higher education
Only online, 8.-9.12.2021
Organised by the University of York, United Kingdom

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown many higher education institutions (HEIs) headlong into e-learning and greatly increased the emphasis on blended learning, for both the short and longterm.

How have students with disabilities, students from a diversity of backgrounds and living circumstances coped with this situation and how have HEIs supported them?  What has worked, what has not worked, what are the challenges for the future?

The Erasmus+ funded TINEL Project (http://hamk.fi/tinel) has been investigating universal design for learning in blended and e-learning situations since before the pandemic hit.  Our work has become even more relevant since the pandemic.

The Conference

In December we will host a conference to share best practices and challenges for the future in supporting a diversity of students in the post-pandemic era of blended and e-learning in higher education.

The conference will be a mixture of workshops, short presentations from participants and from the TINEL team about the work of the project.  There will be plenty of time to network and we aim to start an ongoing support network of staff from HEIs to continue the discussion of these issues after the conference.

Abstracts and presentations (recordings and/or pdf:s of PowerPoints) at the TINEL Closing Conference

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Proceedings

We will publish an online proceedings of all the conference presentations. The online proceedings will comprise the abstracts and optionally a captioned recording of the presentations at the conference.

A special issue of the journal Interacting with Computers (https://academic.oup.com/iwc) will be organized, with presenters invited to submit longer versions of their paper.

If you have any questions, contact the organizer in your country (or Helen Petrie for all other countries):

Finland: Merja Saarela, HÄME University of Applied Science (merja.saarela(at)hamk.fi)

or Tarja Ladonlahti, University of Jyvãskylã (tarja.ladonlahti(at)jyu.fi)

Norway: Anne-Britt Torkilsby, NTNU (anne.torkildsby(at)ntnu.no)

Sweden: Håkan Eftring, Lund University (hakan.eftring(at)certec.lth.se)

UK (and other countries): Helen Petrie, University of York (helen.petrie(at)york.ac.uk)

Conference invitation (PDF)

Keynote speaker
Addressing the needs of diverse learners in online and blended learning with Universal Design for Learning in the post-pandemic Academy: opportunities, new alliances, hurdles, shifting ground, U turns, quick sands, and other surprises of the journey
Bio:
Frédéric Fovet is Associate Professor in the School of Education and Technology at Royal Roads University

Frédéric Fovet is Associate Professor in the School of Education and Technology at Royal Roads University.  He has previously held the position of Assistant Professor within the Faculty of Education of the University of Prince Edward Island.  Over the duration of his PhD., he was Director of the Office of Students with Disabilities at McGill University.  He has also served as a teacher and principal in the K-12 sector.

He is an inclusion specialist with a specific interest in social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD), critical pedagogy and universal design for learning (UDL).  Frederic also has a strong grounding in 

Disability Studies.  He acts as a consultant, both nationally and internationally, in the area of UDL and inclusion – in the K-12 and the post-secondary sector.  He was the instigator and program chair of the first three pan-Canadian conferences on UDL in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

The Best European Universal Design in Higher Education Conference 28.-29.8.2019, Jyväskylä Finland

What is the TINEL training model

The TINEL training model is a framework that has been developed and tested during the Erasmus+ project TINEL (Towards Inclusive e-Learning). The purpose was to find a model for:

  • training staff at higher education institutions (HEIs) in inclusive e-learning and blended learning based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). As we focus on e-learning, we call it Universal Design for eLearning (UDeL).
  • creating an international peer support network for staff interested in inclusive teaching and Universal Design for eLearning.

The TINEL training model uses other results developed at the TINEL project:

  • Learning materials consisting of videos with experience from students and teachers, articles with teachers’ experience from development projects, UdeL Context Cards showing situations a proactive teacher can prepare for, and participants’ case studies from the UdeL “camps” run during the TINEL project.
  • The Enhancement-Led self-Evaluation Tool (ELET) for structuring everyday practices and reflecting on their effectiveness with peers.

You find them under the section “Learning materials” and “Enhancement-Led self-Evaluation Tool”.

Do you want to improve your staffs’ knowledge about Universal Design for eLearning?

Then have a look at the components of the TINEL training model below, how we organised activities for staff in higher education institutions (including invitation letters and agendas), the Learning materials and the Enhancement-Led self-Evaluation Tool we have developed and how we used them. You are free to adapt and use the documents for your own activities.

Components of the training model
UDeL Camps
National webinars for staff at other higher education institutions

The TINEL project has developed learning materials to be used for training staff at higher education institutions in inclusive teaching and Universal Design for eLearning (UDeL). The learning materials have been developed iteratively and tested during four Universal Design for eLearning (UDeL) camps with participants from Finland, Norway, Sweden and the UK. In addition to the learning materials used at the UDeL camps, participants also learned a lot from other participants’ experiences and case studies and related discussions.

The learning materials consist of:

The articles can be used in staff training courses when the participants do not have prior experience of inclusive teaching. Instead of just discussing the topic, participants could prepare for a discussion by choosing to read one of the articles and present it to the other participants. This will create discussions about the article in relation to the participants own experiences and create a deep learning about the topic.

We have also collated links and other kind of resources (videos, articles and websites) that can be used as learning materials.

Student experiences
Staff experiences
Technological tips

UDeL Context Cards

Enhancing UDeL in Higher Education Institution with the Enhancement-Led Evaluation Tool

For enhancing UDeL in the higher education institution (HEI), the TINEL project has developed Enhancement-Led Evaluation Tool (ELET). The purpose of the Enhancement-led evaluation is to support HEI to develop activities by providing self-evaluation questions to structure everyday practices and reflect on their effectiveness with peers. A goal-oriented atmosphere of positive change is created by exchanging and disseminating practices with peers. The Enhancement-led evaluation consists of two self-assessment questionnaires: 1) status of HEI’s current UDeL activities, and 2) the enhancement-led self-evaluation form.

Contacts