Launch of Transforming Higher Education through UDL – Sean Bracken

SPEAKER: Thanks very much and, and,
it’s a real honour to be here, actually real pleasure and honour. And I’m not sure if too
many of you know this but, I was, I was in a pub last night
where, where else would you be? And, the conversation got around to
the fact that we’re in Croke park and it was an, an English
colleague of mine actually Phil Scarf right at the very end. Three are Phil who
mentioned the fact that, he said, Croke Park, he said
that’s the scene in 1922 of, there was a attack, a brutal attack
with within the grounds here and today It’s kind of
difficult, I suppose to, to remember the fact that
we’re on that space, that we’re in a space
of what was conflict, and we’ve arrived at
a place of kind of unity and you get that sense
and celebration very much in Croke Park. So I think it’s a kind of
important for us to remember, that attribute of, his,
the historical and the contextual and the Co, the cultural
dimension of where we are, and it’s important because I think it resonates with
where we are today, over the past two
weeks, for example, we’ve seen in, in the Mediterranean a dreadful tragedy with the loss
of so many lives of refugees who were making their way to suppose
that better lives in Europe. And also in New Zealand, we were witness to
the horrible crimes that are abroad about
by Islamophobia. And I think the really challenging
times, I think that we’re in, in relation to,
the other ring of people, whether it’s antisemitism or our
hatred of people with disabilities or a hatred of the other, and I think it’s, so that’s
why this is such a final time, I think for, for us to think
differently in relation to education and to think differently, particularly in regards to the role
of higher education and its mission. What are we about? Because, there’s, there’s, I think particular demands on
the sector at the moment, to bring them in and stuck
them high as it were. So the marketisation
of higher education, and sometimes we can lose our way, in thinking of what’s
the higher purpose and what’s the moral value and what’s
the social justice dimension of, of the, the purpose
of higher education. And, I think the realisation
of, of this book, in bringing that together
for me has been, a bit of three or a four
year journey actually. And that journey began
here in this place, which is a fitting that
the book should be launched here because it was at
the head conference, three years ago and heard some
absolutely amazing speakers, one of whom was the whirlwind. If anybody knows, Katie Novak,
you’ll know what I’m talking about, she just makes things happen. So she’s, I was that one of
the sessions earlier on and there was some of the people
with magic wands up there, from the University of
Nebraska where are you? Yeah good stuff, okay
if you could wave. And, and that’s, I think very
much is the way the Katie Novak operates as well she’s
a powerhouse of a woman, absolutely inspirational. And I’m really sorry
that she can’t be here, but if I can bring a little
bit of her spirit along today, I’ll have done a great job. So I heard Katie Novak
talk and I heard, possibly some speakers from
demand for at university and there are some colleagues at
the back of the room there as well. And I talked to, I said,
this is way too important not to be able to be captured and not to be able to kind of
bring the people together who are kind of thinking in
the field who are changing, transforming higher education,
really making it accessible, not only in the form of
disabilities, but at an, as Anna has pointed out earlier on and as Frederick Full Bay who’s also
wouldn’t have the chapter authors I hasten to add had mentioned, that necessity for us to
diversify our thinking and, to conjoin lots of
different inspirations. And I suppose that that again, that was part of
the thinking behind the book is to bring people together from
not only different disciplines, but also student services,
library information services, academics, the estates. So thinking about
the shape of the rooms and the information technologists and of course positing the students right at the heart of that
engagement is really important, dynamic so that we’re
interacting with students to as much as possible enable
all students to learn, and I suppose that’s been, the purpose and the drive for
this particular book and, in terms of thanks, for making this happen. firstly I’d like obviously
to thank, the authors, a lot of the authors are here and you’ll have a great
opportunity to interact with them, later on just next door. And, there’s a really fun
dimension to that at least to, for Dera to, to explain
that to you later on. But also, I think I’d, I’d, I’d,
I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank, Lisa who’s here and my
daughter Gabriella and my family for coming along and some of my friends
for coming along as well. So it’s kind of a really important, celebration, I think when you have that opportunity to kind of showcase your work a little
bit or to showcase the work, for lots of other colleagues. But I’d also like to thank, the, as I mentioned the authors and the diversity of
thoughts that they, the thought processes that
they brought to this book, that they’ve really enriched
my own understanding of, universal design for learning, and, and some of the colleagues
obviously who are not here. So from Brazil for
example, and other, places around the world and they just in terms of
the expression that’s been really poetic and really challenging,
intellectually challenging. So hopefully you’ll have
an opportunity to, to experience a little
bit of that later on. But I think above all what I’d
like to do is to think ahead who’ve been really
inspirational for me and what you’ve done is provided
a conceptual framework that I was looking
for for kind of a, I don’t know, maybe 20 years of
my educational experiences. I’ve always been involved in
inclusive practices from, the time that I first taught
in, in western Samoa, to teaching in New York teaching
English language learners. And two currently teaching students, are, are teaching teachers in, a special educational needs
in the United Kingdom at the University of Worcester. So I’d like to thank
the University of Worcester as well, but I was always kind
of looking around for a conceptual framework that, that would pull things
together for me. And, it was at actually one of the, another one of the events that
I think you held in Utrecht, that initially I came across this concept of universal
design for learning. And I know it’s been in
existence for quite some time, but it, it really jelled with
me it’s really something that, that has revolutionised
my own thinking. And obviously it’s not the panacea
and I say that in the book, It just isn’t because each
and every setting is unique and you, again, hopefully you
got a flavour of that within, within the book as well, is
that there’s no one answer. So it can be universal
design for learning with other attributes of maybe
social justice approaches or a concept around leadership
and change management or, attributes of information
technologies, I’m saying that for you, Richard
Jackson, at the back there, Yeah you are, one of
the kind of, key, and formative developers
of the con, concept of technological accessibility, from working with cast at Harvard
University way, way back. So you’ll have a really
wonderful opportunity, as I mentioned, to engage
with the authors and, to have a drink or two
but that’s not my story, that’s Doris. So over to you, Dara, and I’m, I’m
just really, really pleased to, to launch the book and thank you to ahead once again
for providing the opportunity and for being so welcoming and having perhaps the best
conference in the world, maybe if we could see that. Okay thank you.

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