Frederic Fovet - The Open University

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Transcript Frederic Fovet - The Open University

Social model as catalyst for innovation in design and pedagogical change

Frederic Fovet, Director Office for Students with Disabilities & My Access McGill University

Widening Participation through Curriculum 2014 Conference, Milton Keynes

Personal introduction

      Appointed in 2011 Challenge : implementation of the Social Model of Disability Lens through which to re-examine the notion of access to learning.

Universal Design, as a framework, is gaining in popularity as the translation of the social model in practices.

It allows for legal imperatives surrounding access to be addressed seamlessly in a manner that is sustainable and inclusive. Design and conception are the focus, rather than individual impairment.

Intro and context

   As a teaching approach, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) explores how curriculum, instruction and assessment can address the diversity of students It addresses many of the concerns of the Widening Participation literature.

This paper examines a campus` path through a 30 month process of implementation of UDL.


   Analysis of qualitative data collected from multiple stakeholders (students, lecturers and administrators) during the 30 months of UDL implementation The analysis is carried out through an ecological lens. Extensive use of triangulation in this research

Literature – What is UDL

     Universal Design is a framework which is increasingly appealing in Higher Ed It allows for legal imperatives surrounding access to be addressed seamless & in a sustainable and inclusive manner (Howard, 2004). Design and conception are the focus, rather than the individual or any specific impairment (Rose & Gravel, 2010). Three principles: multiple means of representation, action and expression, engagement.

When curriculum delivery and evaluation are designed proactively, access is widened to the greatest possible number of users, and so is the classroom experience (Gradel & Edson, 2010).

The tool for change: Universal Design for Learning (UDL)


  Participants reported satisfaction in being offered a ‘common language’ to share understanding about access and diversity.

Express links were made by participants between the core notions of UDL and wider issues of equity and diversity (SEDE Office, First People`s House, Feminist and Gender Studies Group)

Findings (contd.)

   Instructors indicate that the content of the UDL echoes instructors’ concerns and preoccupations about learning outcomes They reported having gained awareness, through the UDL material, of the existence and needs of `diverse learners`. UDL best practices support learners of widely differing profiles, such as mature students, students with families, second language learners


   When post-secondary campuses address the needs of students with Disabilities through a social model lens, they are likely to focus on pedagogical innovation rather than individual needs.

Pedagogical reflection, encouraged by models such as UDL, also addresses many of the preoccupations of the Widening Participation discourse. There is need for collaboration between these agendas.

Disabilities acts as a ‘wedge’ and opens a discussion about the wider reform of pedagogy

Contact Details

 Frederic Fovet [email protected]