Online community to support diverse learners

10 Jun 2020

A major online learning community aimed at helping classrooms become more inclusive of the diverse learning needs of students has been created with input from University of Queensland researchers.

classroomThe Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) has created inclusionED, an online platform that assists teachers in supporting their students, both at school and at home.

Associate Professor Wayne Wilson, Head of Audiology in the UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said inclusionED provides free evidence-based and research-informed teaching practices, videos, printable templates and other resources.

“inclusionED delivers a truly interactive online platform designed to support diverse learners in inclusive classrooms,” Dr Wilson said.

“It was co-designed with educators, for educators, and it is one of the best examples I have experienced of the translation of research into practice in a manner driven by and for the end-users.

“Educators and parents can utilise the free tools provided, and then share their experiences of implementing specific practices.

“By creating a national community of practice that allows all users to communicate directly with the researchers, we can continue to improve both the research and its translation into practice.”

inclusionED combines practices based on recommendations from more than 25 research projects carried out through Autism CRC's School Years program in more than 300 Australian schools over the past six years.

UQ staff, past and present, were involved in many of the projects, including those on early years behaviour support, Australian educational needs, and finding a place in the workplace and community.

Dr Wilson led a project team — comprised of researchers from UQ, QUT, Monash University, and Autism Queensland — investigating the impact of improved classroom acoustics on autistic students.

“We worked with primary schools throughout the greater Brisbane region to investigate the use of sound field amplification (SFA) as a possible means of helping children on the autism spectrum in the classroom,” Dr Wilson said.

“SFA is a system where the teacher wears a microphone and transmitter and a receiver and speaker is used to project the teacher’s voice evenly throughout the classroom.

“By making it easier to hear the teacher in the classroom, SFA can put both children on, and not on, the autism spectrum in a better position to learn.”

In the average Australian classroom, at least three children have a learning difficulty or neurodevelopmental disability. 

Dr Wilson said the support and scaffolding these children receive during school can set the trajectory for the rest of their lives.

"inclusionED will be a hugely valuable resource for teachers across the nation, supporting them to make education inclusive for all learners, including those with learning difficulties or neurodevelopmental disabilities," he said.

Media: Associate Professor Wayne Wilson,; Dani Nash, UQ Communications,