A Whole-Systems Holistic Approach to Designing an Enabling Higher Education Setting for All

Zorec, Klavdija A Whole-Systems Holistic Approach to Designing an Enabling Higher Education Setting for All.


This Irish Research Council-funded research project aimed to (1) to examine the experience of students with disabilities using or requiring technology in HE in Ireland; (2) to examine how technology supports students with disabilities accessing, progressing through and fully participating in HE in Ireland and the role of technology in promoting inclusive HE; (3) to identify what enhances and inhibits the provision and use of technology in HE; (4) to identify key guiding principles and features of a technology-friendly inclusive university campus; and (5) to make recommendations for future action to realise these principles and key features and to develop technology-friendly inclusive HE campuses. A whole-systems participatory research approach incorporating the central role of student and wider stakeholder perspectives informed the two-phased research design. Phase 1 consisted of in-depth interviews with 18 students with disabilities and 28 wider stakeholders, including representatives from HE institutions, HE support services, academics, policy-makers, non-profit organisations, and advocacy groups; whereas, Phase 2 consisted of a virtual Dialogue Forum (World-Café) (n=50) with students with disabilities and wider stakeholders, in order to bring together and explore diverse perspectives, to develop a shared agenda to inclusive HE, and to identify and prioritize action points for designing and realizing a technology-friendly inclusive university campus from a whole-systems thinking perspective. This presentation focuses on preliminary findings on some of the key interrelated aspects of promoting inclusion in higher education through technology. Implications for policy and practice will be discussed.

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