Widening Participation (WP).
Promoting and providing equal opportunity to everyone to successfully participate and succeed in higher education regardless of background, age, ethnicity, disability or gender.
Widening participation is one of the strategic objectives of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
HEFCE undertakes this by :
- Collecting information from HE on WP.
- The national strategy for access and student success gathered strategic assessments and interim strategic statements on WP to better understand institutions approach and response to WP issues.
- Monitoring equality and diversity, particularly :
- Ethnicity and degree attainment.
- Access to L&T for disabled students.
- Administering the National Scholarship Program (NSP) – a fund made up partly of government contributions for supporting :
- Students with fee costs.
- Institutions with outreach programs.
- Offering student support :
- Hardship funds.
- Bursaries for students wanting to teach in FE colleges (although this is being phased out).
HEFCE particularly focuses on students from / with :
- Disadvantaged backgrounds.
- A high risk of not finishing their course of study.
WP at UAL.
- UAL is committed to WP aiming to innovate and stimulate creativity, value diversity and respect individuality.
- Partnerships with FE colleges and schools, pupil referral units and special education needs institutions.
Widening participation in my own context.
Learning Technology Support (LTS).
- My role at the university supporting students and staff in open access IT area
- Aimed at overcoming digital literacies access issues people from different backgrounds and abilities may face. This includes accessibility issues relating to hearing or visual impediment, dyslexia and physical access issues. We provide a friendly and approachable face for potentially intimidating technologies!
- Workshops. Students can request IT / software workshops or 1on1 support.
- Learning environments.
- Audio reinforcement for lecturers (microphones and speakers so everyone can hear). (Will have to look into whether we provide hearing loop for hearing impaired students).
- Visual display. Suitable projection / screen and ‘repeating’ screens in teaching rooms. Cameras and displays for workshop demonstrations.
- Learning content. Process learning materials and video content. Lecture caprture (so students can watch again if they need to).
- Appropriate décor, furnishings, adjustablelighting and environmental controls conducive to comfortable learning.
- Providing spaces to support group learning (Free desks, bookable pod rooms), casual discussion (common rooms).
- LCFtech.com. Online technical resource designed to give students better access to technical resources at the college by enabling them to search online.
- ORB (Online resource booking).
- Identification of needs and requirements of students in attendance.
- Providing written learning materials, reference to online resources.
- A variety of learning activities to encourage engagement and participation.
- Direct support.
How do I support inclusive learning with my own teaching practice?
I begin each session / series of sessions with individual introductions, encouraging students to outline their experience, aims and interest. I also introduce my background. This is aimed at :
- Ice breaking.
- Understanding better the needs and requirements of individuals in the group.
Variety of learning activities to encourage participation from different types of learners.
- Presentations supported by slides and written hand outs.
- Eg a typography introduction for a desktop publishing unit.
- Watching related video content.
- Eg examples of animated gif movies for an animated gif workshop.
- Tutor lead demonstrations.
- Eg step by step Photoshop retouching project.
- Good for visual learners?
- Participation is possible regardless of level.
- Hearing difficulties can be catered for through supporting notes.
- Challenges : language difficulties / group concentration issues.
- Group discussion.
- Eg students all look at a magazine and talk about how it uses design to communicate its brand identity throughout the publication, to encourage :
- Social integration.
- Idea sharing,
- Diminished responsibility for arriving at definitions.
- Practical activities.
- Eg Cutting up magazines and sticking them back together in new layouts.
- Good for kinesthesic learning styles.
- Independent class work / homework.
- Eg a retouching project to be completed in the lesson / watching a tutorial video for the next class.
- Students work at their own pace.
- (In class) Option to ask for direct support with their own workflow.
- (Homework) Option to watch the video over and over again if necessary.
- Pyramid techniques.
- I’ve only really employed this on one occasion where a class needed to produce a group project (a website) for assessment. We started out developing skills individually and then the students combined into pairs and eventually their groups for the final piece.
Introduction to study for Higher Education (ISHE)
A 20 credit lvl 4 unit available for all undergraduate degrees aimed at :
Introducing learning at an undergraduate level.
Orientating students within their courses, college and the university.
Introducing specific practices and knowledge base in the student’s discipline.
Overcoming issues adapting to overwhelming university environment affecting student performance.
The site contains a resource pool across these areas :
- Creative practice. (My favorites were ‘Critiquing the crit’, doing graphics (practical how to guides for A&D essentials), making the most of a lecture and the jargon buster.)
- Academic practice. (Harvard referencing, Academic writing and plagiarism, quick dyslexia diagnosis activites)
- Social induction (Ice breaking)
- Learning support. (Library, language centre and study support).
- University services.
Describe an Induction activity I use to give a sense of belonging and group cohesion in the first term.
I use an ‘ice breaker’ introduction exersise at the start of a workshop or a series of sessions in a unit. It gives students an opportunity to express their interests, experience and any aims they might have with reference to the subject being studied so I can better meet their needs and requirements. It also gives them an opportunity to meet me and understand where I am coming from.
In retrospect I think I would like to try and get students to do something a bit more cooperative in the first lesson of a unit, maybe a project in pairs or groups of three or four, something to get them working together and inputting into a joint effort. It’s always tricky thinking of ways to get software skills teaching away from the computer screen facing stereo type so I’d need to think more about exactly what brief / activity would be set.
*** UPDATE ***
See comment below….
I’d welcome any comments or feedback on any of this post. I’ll try to respond to any that get posted…