open & Inclusive SIG: Expanding the notion of accessibility? Linguistic accessibility of educational materials

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Tuesday 1st November (14:00 – 15:30 BST)

To all our speakers and attendees who always take time out to join us for the Open & Inclusive SIG, we say “thank you it has been an eventful year”. For the last time this year, we have our very own Dr. Irina Rets who will be discussing about her recent Research Project. All are welcome as usual!

                                                   Link to Recording

The C-19 pandemic has given momentum to the pedagogy of care approaches – approaches which demand flexibility and sensitivity, for instance, with deadlines and individual needs of learners, and which emphasise that access to learning should be seen as part of a societal issue or an institutional approach to teaching, rather than as a deficit situated within the learner.

While accessibility research has been mainly addressing the needs of disabled learners – in the aftermath of the pandemic – should accessibility research focus more in-depth on other groups of learners, such as, for example, international learners?

This interactive talk will present the linguistic accessibility framework developed in a doctoral thesis (Rets, 2021). We will discuss why there was a need for this framework, and what research methods were used to develop it. We will also talk about how to apply this framework to teaching, and what implications this will have for the learner, teacher, and the educational institution.

Author Bio:
Dr Irina Rets is a Doctoral Researcher in educational technology, based at the Institute of Educational Technology (IET), the Open University (OU), UK. She also holds a doctorate in applied linguistics from Volgograd State University (Russia). Irina’s research interests lie at the intersection of education, technology-enhanced learning, and applied linguistics.

As part of her PhD, she investigated the accessibility of online education to English learners. Irina has used a variety of methods to explore this topic, as well as the topics of other research projects she has provided research consultancy for: eye-tracking, online measures of learner behaviour; statistical modelling, advanced qualitative analysis of the data from over 40 interviews she has conducted to date; cluster analyses; analysis of longitudinal reflective learner diaries; analysis of surveys; participatory research.

Irina is a Fellow of Higher Education Academy (FHEA). Before her PhD at the OU, Irina taught a variety of academic university courses to undergraduate and graduate students in English-medium settings. She was involved in all stages of the teaching of these courses: from course design to course delivery and assessment.


Open & Inclusive SIG: Understanding the Different Perspectives of MOOCs Accessibility


Join us for the next open & inclusive Special Interest Group on Tuesday 11th October 2022 (14:00 – 15:00 BST)  to hear Dr Francisco Iniesto talk on Understanding the Different Perspectives of MOOCs Accessibility. All are welcome!

Link to Recording

An accessible MOOC environment should consider every learner’s abilities, learning goals, where learning takes place, and needs for specific devices to facilitate the learning experience. Learners with accessibility needs can face difficulties in using certain technologies, and different MOOC designs may also affect their self-regulation skills, engagement, and communications with their fellow learners. Unfortunately, technologies and pedagogies used in MOOC platforms are not necessarily accessible. This presentation will showcase my doctoral and related research about MOOC accessibility. The investigations involved conducting interviews with a range of stakeholders (providers and learners), analysing survey data, and conducting an accessibility audit. The results provide an insight into the understanding of how MOOC providers cater for learners with accessibility needs, the motivations of learners participating in MOOCs, and ways to improve the accessibility of MOOCs.

During his time as an employee in IET Francisco has been a full-time research associate for OpenTEL for one year. OpenTEL is a priority research area that brings together researchers across the university, with existing research capabilities and established excellence on TEL projects. He was responsible for coordinating OpenTEL several lines of research and events including the creation of the special interest group “Open & Inclusive” which still coordinates.

Other projects where he has been involved part-time include the early stages of ACCESS, a project which is drawing on existing and emerging evidence to inform the design of the programme through an adaptive, people-centred approach through co-creation for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. In this case, Francisco was responsible for investigating the latest methods on codesign within the area of educational technology and health education. More recently he has overseen the trials and research of the most up to date technology in educational virtual assistants for Assistants to the Disclosure and Management of Information about Needs and Support (ADMINS) a project which implies using participatory design, to build a virtual assistant as an alternative to the forms disabled students complete to access study support.

One of the projects Francisco invests currently more time in is the GO–GN Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) a network to support PhD candidates around the world whose research projects include a focus on open education. I this case he coordinates the fellowship scheme, where IET is supporting the research of nine alumni of the network with a strong focus on the Global South and EDI values. GO-GN has started a mentoring program in Latin America named Collega.

Other international projects that complement Francisco’s research in Open Education and Inclusion are Erasmus + funded projects Accelerating the transition towards Education 4.0 in HEIs (TEACH4EDU4), European MOOC Consortium Labour Market (EMC-LM) and Relevant assessment and pedagogies for inclusive digital education (RAPIDE), these projects include the use of Microcredentials in the labour market and new concepts such as Education 4.0 in Computer Science.

During his time at IET, he has got teaching experience, since 2019 he is an associate lecturer for the School of Computing and Communications, currently tutor at the modules TM354 “Software Engineering”, M269 “Algorithms, Data Structures and Computability” and TM470 “The computing and IT project”. He has been involved in the creation of the OU Microcredential in FutureLearn “Online teaching: accessibility and inclusive learning”. As well he is tutor for the Master in “Secondary Education, Professional Training and Language teaching” (HE teaching certificate) and the two modules on the development of accessible mobile apps, all these posts are at the School of Computer Science, UNED.

open & Inclusive SIG: Positive Digital Practices

logoopen & Inclusive Special Interest Group
Tuesday 28th June (14:00 – 15:30 BST)
Open & Inclusive Special Interest Group: Positive Digital Practices, Kate Lister
Link to Recording

Join us online for the next open & Inclusive SIG meeting where Kate Lister will be presenting on Positive Digital Practices. Please contact openTEL for an invite. All are welcome!

Mental wellbeing, of both students and staff, is a significant issue in further and higher education. Increasing numbers of students are experiencing mental health difficulties, and staff are increasingly under pressure. Technology-enhanced learning is uniquely positioned to make a change for good in the sector, support hard-to-reach students and make positive changes to practice. Funded by Office for Students, the Positive Digital Practices project is scaling up positive practices in technology-enhanced learning in three key areas: Continue reading

Open & Inclusive SIG: Digital Inclusion


Join us for the next open & inclusive Special Interest Group on Tuesday 17th May 2022 (13.00 – 15.00) to hear Professor Jane Seale’s talk on digital inclusion followed by a hosted discussion around the links between openness and inclusion. All are welcome!

How can ‘openness’ enhance the digital inclusion of people with learning disabilities?

Professor Jane Seale, WELS

Over the past thirty years there has been much talk and excitement about the potential of technology to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities. And yet, in 2020 when the pandemic struck and life for many of us moved online, many people with learning disabilities were not able to use technology to keep connected and stay well. They were digitally excluded. Research conducted by Jane Seale revealed that a main reason for this exclusion was a lack of support. Many people who provide formal or informal support to people with disabilities did not have the skills or resources to facilitate access to technology. Why might this be? After thirty years of ‘talk’ why has the community not developed or sustained a practice that is capable of supporting the digital inclusion of adults with learning disabilities? In this presentation, Jane will review past and current support practices, focusing in particular on the potential role that open resources and open practices might play and the challenges around the development of open resources and open practices in the learning disability community.

Jane graduated from Plymouth Polytechnic in 1987 with a degree in psychology. She then went on to join the Computer Applications to Special Education Research Unit at Keele University where she completed her PhD focusing on the management of special needs technology in adult special education.
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open & Inclusive SIG

logoMonday 28th February, 13:00 – 15:00 (UK)
MS Teams
Link to Recording

Join us online for two presentations on Citizen Science from Jess Carr, Christothea Herodotou and Ian Kenny. Please contact openTEL for an invite.

Abstracts and Biographies

Presentation 1: Taking down the ‘elite’ – an inclusive and creative approach to citizen science, Jess Carr

All too often, sectors of society are marginalised based on the false beliefs that they are ‘hard to reach’. A term found in funder’s briefs, literature and used widely within the research community, it suggests that the fault for lack of engagement is due to the community’s ability to be reached. Yet, as our society begins to question inequalities, and fight back against them, the research community needs to ask whether it’s doing enough to remove this elitist and damaging concept.

In this presentation, I will discuss my PhD project entitled: ‘Can an inclusive approach meaningfully engage people with learning disabilities? Exploring capacity building for citizen science.’. In this project I worked with a local self-advocacy group Continue reading