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Call for expressions of interest in a global study on disability and eLearning

Call for expressions of interest in a global study on disability and eLearning

The Curtin University Critical Disability Studies Research Network conducts cutting edge research in disability and human rights, with a particular focus on internet studies, education, media studies and disability and popular culture.

We are currently conducting a large international comparative study of students with disabilities and their experiences of eLearning. Participating countries include Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Egypt and Zimbabwe. We are look to broaden the study, both within those countries and in others.

We invite expressions of interest from researchers and institutions to participate in this global comparative study.


In 2016 Dr Mike Kent published a report on Disability and eLearning in Australia based on a study completed for the Australian Nation Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. The full report can be found here:

This report made a number of unexpected findings in the Australian context. This new study seeks to develop a set of global comparisons by replicating the online survey that was part of the original study looking at how accessible students with disability found eLearning environments and their experiences and attitudes towards accommodation and disclosure at their universities.

Participating researchers will conduct an online survey at their own institution as part of this broader comparative study. This survey will be useful within this broader comparative study but also as standalone research.

The survey instrument has already been designed, and can be used in a local context with minor modification, as can the research design. We strongly encourage prospective researchers to partner with their University’s Disability Access Office to act as a point of communications for students with disabilities at the institution to disseminate the survey.

Researchers will publish the results of their individual studies as a standalone publication. Following this, we plan to collate the results together into a large co-authored publication comparing results across countries and institutions.


Each participant would need to seek their own research ethic approval for the study consistent with the regulations and legislation governing their institution (We are happy to provide examples of our existing paperwork for this, including participant information sheets etc).

The survey would need to be slightly modified to target specific universities. It can either be hosted through your own online survey software or we can help hoisting it through our own Survey Monkey account.

As can be seen in the original report for the Australian based study we found that by dividing responses by disability/impairment category we were able to provide additional insight and we would hope to do so again with this study.

We would hope to have all individual studies completed by June 2017.

Lead Researchers

Dr Mike Kent is the head of department and a senior lecturer in the Department of Internet Studies at Curtin University. Dr Kent’s main research interests focus on the two main areas of people with disabilities and their access to communications technology as well as tertiary and online education. He is co-editor, with Katie Ellis of Disability and Social Media: Global Perspectives, (Routledge 2017) and co-author, with Katie Ellis, of Disability and New Media, (Routledge 2011), as well as co-editor, with Rebecca Bennet, of Massive Open Online Courses and Higher education: What went right, what went wrong and where to next? (Routledge 2017) and with Tama Leaver of An Education in Facebook? Higher Education and the World's Largest Social Network (Routledge, 2014). His work has also been published in a number of academic journals including The Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Digital Culture and Education, Disability Studies Quarterly, Disability and Society, and M/C Media Culture.

Dr Katie Ellis is an Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Internet Studies at Curtin University. Her research focuses on disability and the media extending across both representation and active possibilities for social inclusion. Her books include Disability and New Media (2011 with Mike Kent), Disabling Diversity (2008), Disability, Ageing and Obesity: Popular Media Identifications (2014; with Debbie Rodan & Pia Lebeck), Disability and the Media (2015; with Gerard Goggin), and Disability and Popular Culture (2015).


If you are interested in participating or would like more information, please contact Mike Kent at
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