Graduation Year


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Master of Science



Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Matthew E. Davis, PhD

Second Reader

Zoee Bartholomew, EdD


This study seeks to examine educational learning environments with a focus on new platforms of learning, course design, equity, inclusion, and user interface (ex: seeing impaired, cultural differences, gender) that includes the perspectives of students with disabilities. The evolution of learning from singular multi-age classrooms through institutional schools and into dynamic online platforms has radically reshaped the educational ecosystem (Sarkar, 2020), and there have been calls for a deeper understanding of inclusive learning practices to meet the needs of diverse students (Philips & Salem, 2021). Adams (2017) also outlines how the aesthetic interface of each learning environment impacts the quality of learning. Currently, however, there is a lack of existing integrative research that looks at user design through the lens of inclusion, students with disabilities and cultural differences.

This qualitative research project included three elementary students in grades two and three, as well as interviews with three adult educators with whom those students work. The unit-based research project took place through the school’s resource center, and those students who participated, created digital posters based on a unit done around inclusion.

The research participants identified equity gaps within online educational platforms, and that the cost of entry creates significant. The participants additionally distinguished that the way in which an online educational platform is designed matters to students with disabilities and the educators who teach them, with color, language adaptations and text to speech and speech to text functionalities highlighted. Lastly, students want to feel a sense of inclusion, both in person and on digital platforms. They noted how these connections can be created through their interests, senses of feeling in relationship to their peers and seeing reflections of their identity in color and design. Through this understanding educational online platforms can be effectively designed in iv ways in which this demographic of students can succeed.

Teachers can facilitate whole group discussions in open ended formats that allow students to voice their opinions and talk openly about inclusion, and provide tutorials on using the tools within an online platform. Lessons can be designed to give students the opportunity to use accessible technology to creatively demonstrate the integration of learning, using techniques of design. Schools should provide professional development meetings centered around choosing and navigating accessible and equitable online educational platforms for a particular school site or district, and taking into consideration technology that may or may not be available at home. Collaboration with colleagues should be facilitated around incorporating online educational platforms within the classroom for equitable inclusion of students with learning disabilities. Schools should also provide universal access to particular platforms.

This research study focused on finding equitable online educational learning platforms for students with learning disabilities and English language learners. The researcher taught students who have mild/moderate learning needs, and who are English Language Learners. Specifically, this study found that online platforms can support inclusive and equitable learning for students with mild to moderate learning disabilities when the platforms are dynamic, flexible, accessible, familiar, provide language translation services and allow students to honor their strengths with their work.

IRB Number