Copy/Kopio-Towards Inclusive eLearning: Improving Accessibility of eLearning in Higher Education from Universal Design for Learning perspective (TINEL)

Main funder

Funder's project number: 2018-1-F101-KA203-047321

Funds granted by main funder (€)

  • 59 064,00

Funding program

Project timetable

Project start date: 01/10/2018

Project end date: 31/08/2021


The project will have triple focus on improving inclusive eLearning in higher education (HE): firstly, on enhancing the access, participation and learning performance of disadvanced HE learners: secondly, and parallel, on supporting the professional development of educators (such as teachers, professors) with their pedagogical and technological skills in improving accessibility of eLearning from Universal Design for Learning (UDL) perspective; and thirdly, on promoting equity, greater understanding and responsiveness to social, ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity by fostering higher educational institutions (HEIs) to improve eLearning accessibility from UDL perspective.

The project objectives are:
O1) to map and explore inclusive practises of eLearning and implementation aspects of UDL approach in HEIs
O2) to develop an evaluation tool and a training model for improving accessible eLearning from UDL perspective
O3) to develop pedagogical and technological skills for improving inclusive eLearning from UDL perspective

As a result of wider use of eLearning and on-line delievery of courses as an alternative or a compliment to face-to-face offerings, there is expanded access to higher education across population and diverse groups. With increasing diversity of the students entering higher education, the term “non-traditional students” has been coined, referring to students who deviate in some way from the majority of students previously making up the student body. Many students will be “non-traditional” in one way or the other: Different with regard to socio-demographic characteristics, i.e. older students; Different life circumstances: Students who have dependents other than a spouse, are single parents, do not have a higher education entrance qualification, or students with impairments; Different social background characteristics: students without higher education background, migrant students, and students from low socio-economic backgrounds. An awareness of this diversity of higher education students is important in order to develop inclusive HE from UID perspective to meet effectively the needs of all students.

Access to higher education and equality of access for people with disabilities is an important moral obligation for universities and higher education over all. Beyond this, it is also a legal requirement in an Europe. Many teachers in higher education understand that eLearning should be accessible, but not all are aware how to make it accessible. According to study of eLearning problems by Fichten et. al. (2009), student reported poor use of eLearning by professors and their own lack of knowledge working with eLearning. While e-Learning may offer great opportunities to students with disabilities, there are still few professional practitioners in European higher education institutions who know exactly how to make it accessible. Although there are many technical standards available and specifics to make eLearning platforms accessible, the pedagogical and didactic perspective of accessibility is rarely fully met. Often the case is that students can access to the eLearning platform, but not to contents, resources, activities, collaboration and interaction tools. Accessibility can be defined the degree to which a product, service or environment is accessible by as many as possible, including people with disabilities. The eLearning platforms need to be as accessible as possible for students with a range of different abilities.

The competence and experience that transnational project partners bring in the consortium are complementary. All project partners have quite advanced pedagogical and technological skills in traditional eLearning, but wider differences in applying Universal Design for Learning perspective in higher education. Currently Universal Design for Learning is widely in use in Canada, USA, Australia and UK. So UK partner of the project will provide most advanced practices and experiences of applying UDL in improving inclusion in higher education. Because of pioneering inclusion legislations in Norway, they have done most in improving inclusion in higher education in Nordic countries. Until recently, Finland and Sweden have had more moderate perspective and legislation in inclusion, and have less experience in applying Universal Design for Learning in higher education.
According to EUROSTUDENT (2015) there are large differences between European countries in considering “non-traditional” student. In comparing other Europe, Sweden and Finland have higher shares of first generation migrants. This means that every fifth student in these countries was born abroad, and has at least one parent that was born abroad.

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Last updated on 2022-06-07 at 12:40