How to Create an Inclusive Learning Environment in the Classroom
Every learner has different needs. Whether they have a specific learning disability, or simply require additional aid in vision, hearing, comprehension, or fine motor skills, every student deserves the right setup to enable their best learning.
84% of teachers say that it’s impossible to achieve equity in education without accessible learning tools, but what do those tools look like? Creating an inclusive learning environment means addressing a multitude of learning barriers with a variety of different tech tools.
Here are some tools and tips we found for hurdling past some common barriers to learning:
Tools You Probably Already Have To Improve Accessibility
Whatever OS or application suite your students and teachers use there are most likely built-in accessibility tools you can leverage in the classroom.
Chromebooks “come with helpful accessibility features created using inclusive design principles and based on user feedback, to empower people with disabilities to learn, play and connect.” All Chromebooks have the ability to turn on advanced tools to help with hearing, vision, or mobility-impaired students. See them all here!
Google Workspace for Education
Google Workspace for Education features a wide variety of accessibility tools (including the Google Docs plugin for blind students) to help assist every learning type. From visual aids, closed captioning, Braille assist, Select-to-Speak, voice typing and more.
Windows PCs also feature built in accessibility features that help students with impaired vision, hearing, and mobility (one of the coolest features being Eye Control>) as well as neurodiversity learners.
Microsoft’s 365 accessibility software includes digital learning tools that help incorporate accessibility solutions at home or in the classroom. Their immersive reader is an extremely beneficial tool that works with an array of programs and sites to help improve the reading and writing capabilities of people of all ages and their inclusive tech lab highlights what is possible when including those with disabilities and creating a space where learning can be for everyone.
Find more here.
Did you know that students between the ages of 5 and 14 are still developing cognitive auditory processing skills? Young learners cannot decipher the full meaning of content if it is not heard correctly. If that’s true for all young learners, imagine the strain put on hearing-impaired hearing impaired students.
One study even found that “Students need the sound they are focusing on to be 300% louder than other sounds or they may lose part of the learning.” It goes without saying that to understand information, students must be able to hear it and comprehend it. Solutions for including hearing and comprehension accessibility in the classroom can include:
- Headphones and Headsets
- Teacher Microphones
- Audio Enhancement Systems and Classroom Speakers
- Accessibility Features
Even in an average-sized classroom, students who sit in the back of the room or students with impaired vision may face difficulty seeing some types of demonstrations that happen in the front of the classroom. Even with hybrid learning, where a classroom may be a little less traditional in setting, it is important students may struggle if they do not have the ability to visually comprehend the concepts being taught.
If young learners can not see the content being taught properly, this can have an impact on their ability to concentrate, student participation, and the information they retain. Solutions for including visual accessibility in the classroom can include:
- Document Cameras
- Tracking Cameras
Fine Motor Skills Accessibility
They may be convenient, but the keyboards and trackpads fixed to a Chromebook or laptop can present a challenge to many students with developing fine motor skills. The micro-movements needed to operate a standard laptop can be a real pain point for students with limiting fine motor skills and can have a huge impact on how they perform. Even when the student has full comprehension of the content, struggles with fine motor skills can negatively affect their ability to test to their highest potential.
Specifically, trackpads can be a problem for young learners. In fact, one parent, Carolyn Gluth, stated that her child had struggled for about 15 minutes trying to figure out a touchpad when he first used a Chromebook. “He always uses a mouse because his fine motor skills do not allow him to use a touchpad.”
Using mice and keyboards can help students effectively use their devices while sitting in a comfortable position. Logitech’s eBook explains that, “Including external mice and keyboards with a laptop setup as a standard practice is a simple way to not only improve the learning experience but potentially improve outcomes in testing and assessments.” This can include:
- Touchscreen Devices
- Mice and Keyboards
Other Ways to Incorporate Accessibility in the Classroom
Not all students learn the same way and it is important to understand the learning types when in a classroom. Here are some more tips for creating a learning inclusive environment:
Create Movement Opportunities in the Classroom
Sitting in one position for a long period of time can increase fatigue and challenge student performance. Mobile devices (like tablets and 2-in-1 devices) and flexible seating allow students to choose more comfortable positions throughout their day and allows them to concentrate on the lessons instead of their discomfort.
It is also good practice to incorporate learning games, hands-on activities, and STEAM experiences that work with multiple learning preferences and allow students to comprehend lessons in many different ways.
Allowing 1:1 and/or 1:Many Learning Opportunities
Everyone learns at their own pace and some students may need additional time to understand concepts and lessons. It is important to offer the resources to help students if they need that additional help. Things like game-based learning applications, instructional learning applications, recorded lessons, online tutoring solutions, and additional slots of time to meet with students can be a great start in ensuring all students are understanding material.
Elevate learning experiences with Trafera
At Trafera, we believe technology can only improve learning experiences when we make people our number one investment. We partner with the industry’s most trusted brands to provide students and educators with the tools and the technology they need to transform the learning experience in 2022 and beyond.
What’s more, Trafera has welcomed the team from AXI Education Solutions who bring over a decade in expertise in installation and training for interactive displays.
With Trafera on your team, we’ll work together to navigate the complexities of today’s learning environment in a supportive and empowering way. Contact us today to learn more about providing your students with a more engaged and a more connected experience this school year and beyond.