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AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability

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Conference 2019 - Journey to Oz

Title: Journey to Oz -Travelling Together Towards Inclusive Education

When: March 20th & 21st 2019

Where: Croke Park Conference Centre, Dublin

Straight to video highlights>>

The AHEAD Conference this year provided plenty of opportunities for teaching staff, student services staff and other key stakeholders including students to reflect and discuss current models of inclusion, student experiences and inclusive teaching methods happening across campus in Ireland and abroad in higher and further education. The event was full of exciting and innovative content from 50 different sessions delivered by contributors from across 5 continents of the world. Over the course of the two day event in Croke Park, keynote speakers and guest speakers from across various areas of education discussed key areas including the student experience for one post-graduate in Ireland today (Alannah Murray), the importance of a common discourse when working in inclusion (Dr Frederic Fovet) and how to embed inclusion as part of a curriculum to ensure that education at its heart is universal (Dr Pauline Hanesworth), which were well received by those in attendance.

Along with a wide range of talks and network opportunities, this year’s conference was also one of firsts; the first conference book launch and the first final of the John Kelly Award.

We were delighted to launch ‘Transforming Education through Universal Design for Learning: An International Perspective’ edited by Dr Sean Bracken and Katie Novak on day one of the conference. Please see below a video from Dr Sean Bracken for more information on the book and its origins. For more information on how to purchase the book launched at the conference please click here.

Another key element of this year’s conference was the showcase and ultimate prize giving of the inaugural John Kelly Award.  The John Kelly Award for Universal Design for Learning recognises the innovative practice of teaching staff in further and higher education engaging with the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework to deliver a more inclusive learning experience for their students in Ireland. For more information on The John Kelly Award can be found here.  On day two of the conference the three finalists for the award showcased the work they have carried out to support students as part of their participation in the Digital Badge for Universal Design in Teaching and Learning in front of a panel of judges (Dr Terry Maguire, Alannah Murray and Dr Abigail Moriarty). As part of the close of the conference the overall winner was announced as Helena Farrell, Kinsale College. The three finalist’s (Ailish Breen, Deirdre Campion and Helena Farrell) presentations on the changes they made to their practice can be viewed below. The close also included a magical rendition of over the rainbow by Dr Terry Maguire (and Toto!) using the lens of student success to provide some final reflections of the two day conference.

See key video highlights below:

Video Highlights

 My Student Experience - Alannah Murray

Alannah Murray shares their experience of being a student with a disability and calls on educators to play their part in creating an inclusive environment on their campus.

 Exploring and clarifying the definitions of Inclusion we use in Higher Education: Moving towards a common discourse - Dr. Frederic Fovet

The past decade has been one that has seen a growing focus on Inclusion within Higher Education.  Since Higher Education is selective in nature it has not at first had to tackle the notion of Inclusion and has worked historically with a fairly homogeneous population. Three factors have challenged this homogeneity: mainstreaming in schools, internationalization in admissions, and the Widening Participation agenda.  There is now increasing pressure for the Higher Education classroom to fully address learner diversity, but this talk will suggest that it will be difficult to move forward towards greater inclusion until we formulate a common language and clarify: 

(i) The theoretical foundation of Inclusion, (ii) its objectives and (iii) the means to implement it within the Higher Education landscape.

 Paving the yellow brick road: Centring the curriculum - Dr Pauline Hanesworth

Our lecturers are working in highly-pressurised environments with increasing and conflicting demands and priorities. As such, it is perhaps unsurprising that inclusive learning and teaching can be seen as “just another thing to do”. We find the implementation of inclusive curricula can be inconsistent, piecemeal and reliant on lecturer goodwill and interest. This talk will explore how institutions are tackling this, working with lecturers on a journey toward the strategic implementation of inclusive pedagogy for the development of sustainable approaches that support rather than inhibit learning.

 John Kelly Award Finalists

As part of the conference, we hosted the final of the John Kelly Award for Universal Design in Teaching and Learning. The John Kelly Award recognises the innovative practice of teaching staff in further and higher education engaging with the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework to deliver a more inclusive learning experience for their students. It is targeted at practitioners who have demonstrated their emergent commitment to UDL by undertaking the Digital Badge for Universal Design in Teaching & Learning and making exciting changes to their practice as a result of their participation in the badge.

Three finalists presented their Digital Badge work to a panel of judges and the wider conference audience and below you can see the presentations of each finalist, including eventual winner Helena Farrell. 

What is Universal Design for Learning?

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