I instinctively dislike terms such as e-learning. They imply that the use of technologies is somehow separate from the rest of life and learning.  However, I shall use the term ‘e-inclusion’ here within the context of debates around social inclusion and social justice. The term, as defined by futurelab  in a thought provoking article, relates to the use of digital technologies to enable inclusive learning practices for people with learning difficulties. E-inclusion practices emphasise the interaction between digital tools, contexts and people, and focuses on the activity of the use of digital technologies by or with people with learning difficulties.

The ‘digital divide’ used to mean the difference between those people who had access to computers at home and those who didn’t. It is now a more complex equation which pertains more to the significant and widening disparity between what children do in school and what they do in their leisure time; between what the teacher knows and what the student needs to know to learn in the 21st century. Education, more than ever, is about the key skills and competencies people require. Knowledge is no longer held in the minds of a few: the teacher’s role is no longer to transmit information but to facilitate transformation within their charges.

 It is through technology that young people with learning difficulties are more enabled to establish a presence which would otherwise elude them. With technology, learners who have traditionally been excluded from school success have the tools to express themselves in ways not open to them before. We no longer need to wait until failure sets in: we can provide opportunities right from the beginning of P1 and throughout formal schooling to permit learners both to achieve and attain success. Personalised learning, traditionally the area where ‘special’ education excels, is becoming mainstream, and technology liberates those whose reading and writing would have held them back in the past.

 The futurelab paper delineates 3 approaches to using digital technologies for inclusion: to train or rehearse, to assist learning and technology to enable learning. It is the potential for enabling learning that the real … major developments will take place.

 For teachers to understand the potential – and limitations – of technology for the promotion of inclusion, there needs to be programmes of varied, appropriate and well-resourced training opportunities, experimental and sustained research and development, and the creation of digital resources to support both learners and teachers of a high quality.

The alternative – ill-informed or inadequate use of e-inclusion technology – would be far more costly in lost opportunities and wasted resources.

 I am anticipating with excitement my 2 days Glow training this week. I am looking forward to the opportunity to develop my own understanding and skills in utilising digital technologies for the benefit of those learners with dyslexia in my region.