Salamanca-LMU E-Learning Projekt
International eLearning Approach on Teaching Strategies and Inclusion of Students with Autism (SUCCESS-TEASD)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that usually manifests its first symptoms in early childhood and is characterised by difficulties in communication and social interaction, as well as by repetitive behaviour, unusual stereotyped and sensory interests that affect the normal course of an individual’s day-to-day life.
ASD is relatively common in childhood, with an estimated prevalence at age 2 of 0.8% (Nygren et al., 2012) and even higher at age 8, when it reaches values between 1 and 5% in developed countries (Lyall et al., 2017). This implies that, throughout their professional career, teachers are likely to have students with ASD, so it will be necessary for them to have sufficient knowledge about autism to understand the complexity of behaviour in the classroom and to be able to make appropriate adaptations in the teaching processes, as well as to modify the curriculum and the learning environment to facilitate social inclusion and participation (Ravet, 2017).
Teachers in the mainstream schools have so far been underprepared to help pupils affected by ASD because training programs directed at the unique needs of special needs pupils have not been required. Every person on the autism spectrum is unique and their needs will be reflected differently.
For pupils on the spectrum, school can be a particularly challenging hurdle, especially when teachers are unaware of how to work with them (Charman et al., 2011).
We must make it our priority to enable teachers around the world to learn to utilize different teaching styles that fit the strengths of children on all areas of the spectrum.
AIMS OF THE PROJECT
Since Autism is a very complex condition a multidisciplinary collaboration is a very important factor in the teachers training as well as a critical skill for today’s tempestuous times. Supporting this collaborating and intercultural perspective, Chair of behavioural disorders, Autism and inclusive Education concluded and ratified cooperation agreements with different universities ever since 2017 (MOU). The aim is:
- To establish a platform for international peer learning on the ASD issues between LMU and USAL (University of Salamanca)
- To promote action learning and sharing of good practices in the field of educational intervention programs in inclusive settings for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
The focus will not only be to open learning opportunities but especially on closely supervised digital learning environments, which contribute to the development of 21st century competences in students.
The course takes place in a virtual blended learning environment, that combines asynchronous self-learning phases with synchronous virtual moments of interaction.
The self-learning phases are utilized for the acquisition of the theoretical background in relation to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This can occur either individually, in intercultural learning tandems or in groups, and is accompanied by tutors via Internet in order to clarify questions or solve comprehension problems.
The synchronous moments of interaction are intended for introduction, adjustment and motivation as well as the final reflection and discussion of the outcomes (German and Spanish perspective). The outcome of the course is a joint presentation and seminar paper on the specific topic related to ASD. Every presentation will contain the point of view of a Spanish and a German student. So, students can compare how the topic of Autism is treated in different countries, here students will benefit from addressing similarities and differences between the countries, and what we can learn from one another.
Support from the tutors/professors is provided all the time.
Synchronous moments as well as working in intercultural tandems/teams are important, in order to enable real international exchange and not only offer more flexible online international online modules.
With this project we wish to offer virtual exchange possibilities and enrich the learning experience of LMU students as well as students from partner universities through “international classrooms”.
Establishment of a platform for international peer learning on the ASD issues between LMU and USAL adds to a sustainability of international and intercultural cooperation and development in the field of inclusion, participation and promotion of human rights in general.
SUCCESS-TEASD aiming at a multilateral transfer of knowledge can promote inclusive school development and inclusive teacher training in the light of the UN Convention and the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda.