Jason Carroll

Creating a level playing field for today’s students

A whole lot can happen in the space of a generation. And it’s easy to underestimate all the good stuff that happens incrementally, often without us even noticing. At this month’s UDL-IRN Summit in Orlando, Florida from 27-29 March, Texthelp’s Jason Carroll reflects on the exciting opportunities for young learners that simply didn’t exist twenty years ago... and tech’s essential role in this positive transformation.

“Ask people to make a guess about socioeconomic trends over time and they tend to give very pessimistic responses” says Jason. “We often assume that the world is getting steadily worse in terms of things like poverty and social inclusion. But the big surprise is that a lot of these presumptions just don’t match the data”.
As Jason points out, classrooms twenty years ago were unforgiving places for any child who wasn’t considered ‘normal’:
“There simply weren’t the tools or the strategies in place to support kids with additional needs. If you needed extra reading support – or maybe you had a tough life at home, or English wasn’t your first language – those considerations were pretty much ignored by the curriculum itself and the ways for different kids to access it.”
“It’s easy to underestimate just how vastly different the world is now” states Jason. “There’s a far more level playing field for today’s students who have all kinds of accommodations and extra resources to draw on.”

EdTech is a huge enabler

As Jason explains, educational technology has been a huge enabler for this transformation, with companies like Texthelp embedding UDL principles firmly into their products so every student can enjoy the benefits.

“There are both positives and negatives associated with the explosion of technology. But it’s hard to argue the benefits it’s given to diverse learners. Students who speak a different language can have words instantly translated and read aloud, while struggling readers can hear text read aloud, with talking dictionaries and images to help their comprehension.”

“Nobody complains in the workplace because you’ve Googled a fact for your presentation” says Jason. “And by now we should be over the idea that tech in the classroom is some kind of ‘cheat’. We’ve still got a long way to go… but let’s not forget how far we’ve come in an incredibly short time.”

This year’s sixth UDL-IRN International Summit is the essential destination for everyone who’s interested in Universal Design for Learning from an educational and academic perspective. Under the banner of ‘Learning Designed for Everyone’, it brings together educators and researchers from around the globe to share conversations, network and celebrate the transformative power of learner-focused education.
You can catch Jason’s presentation on Thursday, March 28th at 2:30pm. Log-in and be sure to mark it in your schedule.


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