Inclusion in HE

I’m sharing here some work I’ve done on inclusion at Goldsmiths to get some feedback. Inclusion has always been a major concern for universities but with recent cuts in Disabled Students’ Allowance in the UK, academic staff are now legally obliged to teach in accessible ways. I think beyond legal obligations, we have a duty of care for our students (this was mentioned by George Siemens in  tweet in response to xMOOCs but I now lost it, so please let me know if you have a record of it somewhere) and need to focus on learner engagement and well-being in this discussion.

With this work I’m trying to make sense of the larger picture and connect inclusion to student engagement and democratic education overall. I look forward to your comments!

Context: Inclusion at a HE institution in the UK
For whom? (some specific groups)
People with disabilities People who speak English as a second language + International students Mature students (those who return to education after a gap) Marginalized groups: LGBTQ, ethnic and religious minorities
For the learner: Better engagement with resources and connection with the learning community

For everyone: To learn from diverse experiences, expand worldviews. Learning within a community of co-learners (including the teacher/facilitator).

  • Reasonable Adjustment
  • Universal Design
  • Multimodality
  • Culturally relevant or responsive pedagogy


  • Heutagogy (self-determined learning)
  • Critical pedagogy
  • “Liberating the curriculum”

  • Metacognition (thinking about thinking) as a key skill
  • Connected and Networked Learning (peer-to-peer, connecting strengthening nodes in the learning ecology)
  • Working on classroom dynamics, community building
  • Sharing experiences outside the curricula: interest in the “whole person”
  • Building understanding and awareness, ethics of listening and caring
  • Student partnerships (through unions, departments and within class)
By whom?
Usually “Teacher → Student” but we need more “Student →Teacher” and “Student ↔ Student” communication on this.

Reasonable adjustments and universal design are usually teacher led and specific classroom pedagogies are chosen and applied by the teacher or the department. However, any effort on inclusion should be a multidirectional process among students, teachers and the larger community.

If not provided?
Poor inclusion lead to disengagement and dissatisfaction with learning. Students might feel silenced or ignored. They might feel frustrated. This is more about the social aspects of learning than the technical aspects in many cases.