Sáng Lê Ngọc Tạ
Sáng Lê Ngọc Tạ
In the modern day education system, neurodivergent students are left behind. Usually they only get some extra time during tests. Since there is such a huge range of neurodivergence and such big differences in severity for each student, what the education system needs is a simple way of personalizing education for neurodivergent students. This is why Project Inclupedia is needed. Inclupedia is an interactive website with a Wikipedia-like concept. Everyone can add situations they themselves, or their students or children struggle with, accompanied by solutions to them. People can comment and edit those solutions.
Following the theories of perspectivism and aspect seeing, Project Inclupedia takes all the different perspectives and experiences of neurodivergent people into account in order to improve their education. Since the website is easily accessible and full of information, it is likely the website will be widely used, like Wikipedia. Furthermore, the website is very useful for neurodivergent students, teachers and parents and easy to use: two requirements for technology acceptance. Lastly, the website has a simple interface, is easy to navigate and uses easily readable language. This is vital for many neurodivergent students, since they often have a hard time reading or concentrating on long texts.
Neurodivergence is defined as “divergence in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical or normal” (Oxford University Press, n.d.). Examples of neurodivergence are autism, dyscalculia, dyslexia, and ADHD. In today’s education system, neurodivergent students are severely disadvantaged. They are left behind and not taken into account enough. For example, most of the time the only adjustment neurodivergent students get in school is some extra time for tests. Even though there are huge differences between each neurodivergent student, they are all expected to be able to keep up with their neurotypical peers with the same, standardized amount of time. Some neurodivergent students do not even need the extra time during tests, but are in need of other measures.
Many dyslexic students, for example, struggle with expressing what they want to write down, because they are so focused on finding the right words and spelling them correctly (Reynolds & Wu, 2018). For them it might be better to take an exam orally instead of just getting some extra time for written exams (Pino & Mortari, 2014). One of the students we interviewed with dyslexia also indicated he especially had a hard time finding words and spelling them correctly in French class. The school offered him a laptop, but he was not allowed any spell check software, even though this was what he really needed.
The students we interviewed that had ADHD indicated that they, like dyslexic students, struggled with reading, though for different reasons. For example, school books are often too busy for them, with pictures and bright colors. In order to study well for a test it would help if the school would provide them with black-and-white printed versions of the schoolbooks. Their experience is in line with previous research by Daley and Birchwood (2009). They link ADHD to a lower reading performance, especially if the student displayed a lot of hyperactivity in early childhood. Students with ADHD were more likely to have low grades in other subjects as well, such as math. They also run a greater risk of suspension or even expulsion than their neurotypical peers (Daley & Birchwood, 2009). This could be explained by the lack of understanding neurodivergent students experience and the standardized way they are treated.
Not only is the treatment of neurodivergent students too standardized, they also struggle with asking for adjustments in their education (Pino & Mortari, 2014). They often do not know what kind of adjustments they can ask for, or they do not want to ask for adjustments in their education. This is because there lies a big stigma on neurodivergence, which causes neurodivergent students to feel ashamed of their neurodivergence (Pino & Mortari, 2014). One of the students interviewed for this project also indicated that when doing research on solutions to ADHD-related problems, she regularly encounters issues caused by ADHD, that she did not know were part of ADHD at all. Before seeing these problems on the internet, she would just assume that these were her own individual experiences. She experiences a lack of information on ADHD and indicated that many of her neurodivergent friends, whether they had dyslexia or autism, experienced the same.
This is why Project Inclupedia is necessary. It lessens the stigma on neurodivergence, provides a plethora of information and reassures neurodivergent students that they are not alone.
According to Nietzsche’s theory of perspectivism the world only consists of perspectives (Jonas & Nakazawa, 2008). There is no such thing as a ‘real’ world or objective truth, only the world and truth as it is perceived by people. Therefore truth is subjective (Jonas & Nakazawa, 2008). Closely related to this is the concept of aspect seeing as thought of by Wittgenstein: we all see different aspects of the same object or phenomenon (Melzer & Servaas, 2020; Wittgenstein, 2010). The most famous example of this is a picture that can either depict a rabbit or a duck, depending on the person or the way you look at it, depending on one’s own perspective (Melzer & Servaas, 2020; Wittgenstein, 2010).
With both perspectivism and aspect seeing in mind, it is easy to explain why Project Inclupedia would be successful. As argued before in the problem analysis, the modern day education system is too standardized to truly accomodate the needs of neurodivergent students. Every neurodivergent student is different. No dyslexic student experiences the exact same problems to the exact same extent. The same goes for students with ADHD, where one can even find subtypes. Neurodivergent students all have a different way of perceiving the world around them and experience different problems when trying to keep up with their fellow-students. Project Inclupedia offers a simple way of taking all those different perspectives and experiences into account. Since the website offers many solutions to many different kinds of problems, a student, teacher or parent only has to look up a solution to their specific problem and use it to their advantage. In this way the modern day education system can bear in mind the different perspectives, experiences and needs of its neurodivergent students in a simple and more or less standardized way.
Aligned with the Wikipedia model, Inclupedia is also a commons-based peer production platform (Benkler, 2006). In other words, Inclupedia relies on the collective contribution of individuals who strive towards a common goal. In this case, the goal has been to provide aid and support to neurodivergent students. With regards to Wikipedia, Garber (2011) has mentioned that there are several main ingredients for its success, which are “it was built around a familiar product-the encyclopedia”, “[it] offered low transaction costs to participation, and it de-emphasized the social ownership of contents.” Since Inclupedia is built around Wikipedia and enjoys the other two features, we can be hopeful about its prospect of attracting contributors.
Inclupedia is also aligned with the Technology acceptance model (TAM; Davis et al., 1989). Specifically, the TAM emphasizes “perceived usefulness” and “perceived ease of use” as its two main factors for technology acceptance. Through our interviews with neurodivergent students and educators, we know that this platform will be very useful for their benefit. Moreover, the Wikipedia style design and structured template solutions have helped users to easily follow and access the content.
Moreover, due to the added interactiveness of Inclupedia, one could view this platform as an educational networking platform (ENP) but anonymous, and this brings many benefits to educators as well as the neurodivergent students. For such students, Inclupedia definitely encourages them to voice out their problems without feeling the stigma that they would usually have to endure. Branley-Bell (2019, p.136) has additionally mentioned that ENPs can “enhance communication” and provide pupils with the “opportunity to take ownership of their learning.” This is also a benefit for educators as this would lead to more active, student-centered learning. Since students can easily search for a solution on Inclupedia by themselves, educators can free up more time, allowing them to focus on helping the student implement a solution.
AD(H)D and dyslexia are some of the most common developmental disorders in children and adolescents. Yet, educational institutions are often not acclimated to working with students who have either one of these diagnoses.
Dyslexia is a learning-impairment in reading and writing. At the moment, the cause of dyslexia is considered to be the a defect in the ability to integrate information across different functional systems and is particularly associated with atypical functioning of the hub region which is responsible for connecting information between different systems and the RSNs (resting-state networks) (Bailey, Aboud, Nguyen, & Cutting, 2018). Another function which is often detected in persons with dyslexia is increased myelination of the left perisylvian cortex (Skeide et al., 2018). This region encompasses the Broca’s area (speech production) and Wernicke’s area (speech comprehension). Those diagnosed with dyslexia have reduced grey matter and cortical thickness in the areas surrounding the perisylvian cortex and junctions of the parietal, temporal and occipital lobes (Munzer, Hussain, & Soares, 2020). Furthermore, there is a hypoactivation of the left inferior frontal, temporoparietal, and occipitotemporal regions of the left hemisphere (Munzer et al., 2020). These are the areas responsible for the recognition of symbols and letters, and the translation of sounds into phonological information and associated letters with those sounds (Bailey et al., 2018). It is important to note that there are many factors which result in dyslexia, not all have been mentioned in this paper.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder which is characterized by inattention and locomotor hyperactivity as well as impulsivity. There have been numerous studies about the neurobiological causes of AD(H)D. One of the most consistent findings from these studies is a reduction in volume regarding white and grey matter in the brain, with particular changes in the caudate nucleus, prefrontal cortex white matter, corpus callosum and cerebellar vermis (Tripp & Wickens, 2009). The role of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is of great importance due to its interconnection with other vital areas, such as the caudate nuclei and cerebellum, which are involved in the regulation of attention and behavior (Kesner & Churchwell, 2011). Another finding is lower activity of the enzyme responsible for the synthesizing NE-dopamine beta hydroxylase. This leads to poor executive functions, inattention and impulsiveness (Hess et al., 2008). It is important to note that there are many factors which result in ADHD, not all have been mentioned in this paper.
Project Inclupedia honours its promise to simplify education for neurodivergent students as well as possible. This means that conscious choices are made when regarding the layout, fonts, wording and solutions provided. The easy overview allows for a quick accumulation of relevant information and solutions without anecdotes or medical texts. Through this, both dyslexic and ADHD diagnosed students can find the information they desire without distractions or intimidating paragraphs. Furthermore, the information provided is worded in a simple manner in a font which allows for easy reading. This mainly helps students struggling with dyslexia, but is also useful for those with ADHD as it does not demand deep concentration and skill.
Bailey, S. K., Aboud, K. S., Nguyen, T. Q., & Cutting, L. E. (2018). Applying a network framework to the neurobiology of reading and dyslexia. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 10(1), 1-9. https://doi.org/
Benkler, Y. (2006). Commons-based Peer Production and Virtue. The Journal of Political Philosophy, 14(4), 394–419.
Branley-Bell, D. B. (2019). The Platform Adoption Model (PAM): A Theoretical Framework to Address Barriers to Educational Networking. In Peña-Ayala, A. Educational Networking A Novel Discipline for Improved Learning Based on Social Networks (pp. 133-157). Springer.
Daley, D., & Birchwood, J. (2009). ADHD and academic performance: why does ADHD impact on academic performance and what can be done to support ADHD children in the classroom? Child: care, health and development, 36(4), 455-464.
Davis, F. D., Bagozzi, R. P., & Warshaw, P. R. (1989). User acceptance of computer technology: A comparison of two theoretical models. Management Science, 35(8), 982-1003. https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.35.8.982
Garber, M. (2011, October 11). The contribution conundrum: Why did Wikipedia succeed while other encyclopedias failed?. NiemanLab. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/reference_list_electronic_sources.html
Hess, C., Reif, A., Strobel, A., Boreatti-Hümmer, A., Heine, M., Lesch, K.-P. ., & Jacob, C. P. (2008). A functional dopamine-β-hydroxylase gene promoter polymorphism is associated with impulsive personality styles, but not with affective disorders. Journal of Neural Transmission, 116(2), 121–130. https://doi.org/
Jonas, M. E., & Nakazawa, Y. M. (2008). Finding Truth in ‘Lies’: Nietzche’s Perspectivism and its Relation to Education. Journal of Philosophy and Education, 42(2), 269-285. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9752.2008.00623.x
Kesner, R. P., & Churchwell, J. C. (2011). An analysis of rat prefrontal cortex in mediating executive function. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 96(3), 417–431. https://doi.org/
Melzer, T., & Servaas, T. K. (2020). Practising Aspect Change.
Munzer, T., Hussain, K., & Soares, N. (2020). Dyslexia: neurobiology, clinical features, evaluation and management. Translational Pediatrics, 9(S1), 36–45. https://doi.org/
Oxford University Press (OUP). (n.d.). Neurodivergence. Lexico.Com. Retrieved April 3, 2021, from https://www.lexico.com/definition/neurodivergence
Pino, M., & Mortari, L. (2014). The Inclusion of Students with Dyslexia in Higher Education: A Systematic Review Using Narrative Synthesis. Dyslexia, 20(4), 346-369. DOI: 10.1002/dys.1484
Reynolds, L, & Wu, S. (2018). “I’m Never Happy with What I Write”: Challenges and Strategies of People with Dyslexia on Social Media. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 12(1), 280-289.
Skeide, M. A., Bazin, P.-L., Trampel, R., Schäfer, A., Männel, C., von Kriegstein, K., & Friederici, A. D. (2018). Hypermyelination of the left auditory cortex in developmental dyslexia. Neurology, 90(6), 492–497.
Tripp, G., & Wickens, J. R. (2009). Neurobiology of ADHD. Neuropharmacology, 57(7-8), 579–589. https://doi.org/
Wittgenstein, L. (2010). Philosophical Investigations (P. M. S. Hacker & J. Schulte, Reds.; 4de editie). Wiley Blackwell.