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ThingLink tour of Learning Resource Centre for SEND Students using Immersive Reader

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The breakthrough over recent months is the ease to create one of these tours. Here the added benefit is text that can be read by Microsoft's Immersive Reader -  this makes accessibility possible with the user in charge over fonts, backgrounds and the way in which the text is read out.

Give it a go! Provide feedback. The tutor for our Special Educational Needs Students has given a resounding thumbgs up. It's the opportunity to click on lots of things, and to repeat peices they keep forgetting without having to forever ask for help (or not).

A few things yet to add and the approach will be developed once I am siting down with the students themselves to see how they respond.

https://www.thinglink.com/mediacard/1244284378704510977

 

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H810 End of Module Assignment - done!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 13 Jan 2013, 10:15

I have never finished an assignment within a few hours of the deadline - it has taken, what 16 assignment and five modules to reach the stage with my FINAL assignment that I am satisfied with my fifth draft and can upload FIVE days ahead of the deadline.

If only I had understood the need to get to this stage, give or take a few days, many months ago ... to get on top of the subject in good time.

I have a week to decide whether to follow H809 on research methods ... with a view to beginning a PhD in September 2013!!!

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

My PhD topic might be on user generated content used in social learnign or the development of virtual companion (artificiual intellifence) to support people with dementia or recovering from a stroke.

Or I get a proper job sad

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Olympic and Paralympic Legacy

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 10:29

Olympic and Paralympic Legacy House of Lords 8th Nov 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012

Baroness Doocey

I can testify personally to the skill and dedication of this extraordinary band of people, who worked tirelessly to anticipate and deal with every conceivable security problem in order to keep us safe.

Could this be said of making e–learning accessible?

Anticipating every conceivable accessibility problem?

My first area of concern is the sporting legacy for disabled people. LOCOG deserves particular praise for delivering the first fully integrated Games, with the Paralympics as much a part of the games as the Olympics.

Surely to be fully intergrated 'both' games would have to run together rather than separately - intergration and equity means like for like, as part of the same commmunity, as fellow people whoever you are.

Can we have the first fully integrated university, with students with disabilities as much a part of the undergraduate world?

To provide a legacy for children with disabilities who are being educated in mainstream schools, as most are, we need teachers to be appropriately trained, to know what assistive technology and software is available and where to get it. These teachers do not currently receive this training automatically but are instead expected to undertake training voluntarily in their own time.

The Government must change this system.

They should also make funds available to schools to bring in outside coaches to help.

Lord Deighton

My time at Goldmansachs taught me about leadership in the most demanding environments. I discovered the value of working with talented people and the benefits of teamwork; that there is nothing worse than an unhappy client; the importance of communicating clear goals; and the need to execute against these goals day in and day out to the highest standards.

It is that experience which has guided my work at London 2012, where I have also enjoyed the unstinting support and wise guidance of my noble friend Lord Coe, with whom I shared a trust and friendship which enabled us to meet the project's many and diverse challenges.

The Games on their own were never going to change the world and it is not fair to expect that.

I believed that they could provide a moment that would open the public's eyes to possibilities for disabled people and a moment where, at a basic level, the public would stop talking about the "real", the "normal" or the "proper" Games when they meant the Olympics and "the other Olympics" when they really meant the Paralympics.

Language is the dress of thought, and inclusion is more than putting a few Paralympic images on a poster or in a line-up

Baronness Grey–Thompson

Equality is not a tick-box exercise. There has to be substance beneath it. LOCOG proved that time and time again.

It celebrated the similarities between the Games and, where appropriate, the differences.

Never once in all my time involved in these Games did I feel like a second-class citizen in sport. I cannot say that that has always been the case. The legacy is more than sport and physical activity.

On a personal level, very recently, I had difficulty getting off a train. I had to sit on the floor by the toilet, push my chair off the steps before I shuffled to the door to transfer off.

Do we really need to wait until 2020 to have accessible transport?

If we can deliver an amazing Games, we can do other big projects too. Recently, I was invited to a dinner where I had to use the back entrance to get in. When I wanted to use the bathroom, it took several minutes to find a ramp and, while I was in the bathroom, it was taken away and I could not get back down the steps-not quite inclusion.

Lord Moynihan

Education's rightful place should be at the epicentre of the Olympic sports legacy. We need a revolution, on the back of a successful Games, in the delivery of school sport. Every primary school needs dedicated physical education delivered to national curriculum standard; provided by well-trained, focused individuals; and supported by a vibrant, accessible and sustainable interschool sports programme which is, in turn, supported and linked into the national governing body competition calendars.

If there was ever fertile ground for David Cameron's vision of the big society, it is through sport and recreation.

Control, power, jobs and funding needs to be shifted from bureaucratic, micromanaged structures under the influence of Whitehall to families, clubs, volunteers, community groups and schools, who should be empowered with the task of translating the inspiration of the Games into participation.

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While I have focused on the BOA today and the vital need to deliver on the Olympic sports legacy, there is no doubt that equal attention should be given to the British Paralympic Association and to sport for those with disabilities.

For this summer gave us a moment to understand the abilities of the world's Olympians, not their disabilities.

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Lord Addington

Disability access was one of the largest areas under discussion. The noble Lord, Lord Davies, is not present but I remember saying to him, "Listen, it is not about disability; it is about the Olympics. We have the disability stuff in place".

Those discussions probably helped to make the Paralympic Games such a success. We undertook the relevant work at an early stage.

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Lord Hall of Birkinhead

Being involved in the arts and culture can give you a sense of confidence and self-worth and that is why it is so important that the arts remain strong within the national curriculum, and why they should be included in the new English baccalaureate. That would be a good legacy of the Games. When the Globe Theatre ambitiously put on all 37 Shakespeare plays in 37 different languages, people came from all around the world and 80% of those who came had never been to the Globe before.

It was an extraordinary outcome.

We need to look at ways of continuing that. One idea is a biennale, which is one of the things that the board I chair is looking at for the Government. It would be good to know that the Government are building on what was achieved this summer in terms of new audiences.

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The Last Leg Adam Hills

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 23 Dec 2012, 06:30

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The Last Leg Adam Hills stand up on TV Thursday 20th December

'If the Paralympics is covered well, it can change the way you look at and treat people with disabilities,' says Adam Hills, presenter of C4's late-night show The Last Leg

An evening with Adam Hills should be the opening presentation on the module H810 Accessible Online Learning - for a start we'd have to ditch the term 'disabled' for something else - these kinds of labels and tags have had their day.

Live at the Lyric

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H810 Using an Activity System to improve accessibility to e-learning by students with disabilities.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 20 Dec 2012, 09:45

 

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Fig.1. The consequences of an activity system - loads of action. Here a tutor group over a period of 27 weeks. 'Activity' is represented by messages in a tutor forum. H810 is an Open University postgraduate course in Education. Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates

Visualizing actions between people, concepts and things required more than words - models and metaphor start to create meaning.

Why use any model?

A model should be a well-founded visual simplification of an aspect of a complex reality that communicates its concept clearly, is based on thorough research, and is easily shared for feedback and review. Users should find that a model, like an experiment, is repeatable so that in time a body of work including case studies and a critique of the model builds credibility. A conceptual model such as an Activity System is ‘particularly useful when one wants to make sense of systemic factors behind seemingly individual and accidental disturbances, deviations, and innovations occurring in the daily practices of workplaces’. Engeström (2008:27)

Conole and Oliver (2011) mention four levels of description:

1. Flat vocabulary
2. More complex vocabulary
3. Classification schemas or models
4. Metaphors

The vocabularly is inevitable, though talking this through to an audience would be my prefered approach, so that with engagement reponse is invited. The models used here, from Vyogtsy and Leon'tev to Engestrom may appear familiar and set - they not. There is a group that likes to see everything 'triangulated' - diamonds and stars, though evident in the literature on education - maybe akin to complex rather than plain language. From models we move to various metaphors - and you are certain to have your own. While Engeström himself moves on to ideas of 'knotworking' and fluid, organic representations.

Engeström (1987) took a current model - that of Vygotsky (1978) and made it his own and has since offered a metaphor to explain it further.

Why use an Activity System?

Activity Systems derive from a century of analysis of the way people construct meaning (Vygotsky, 1978. Leon’tev, 1978) that later researchers applied not simply to how people think, but how groups of people (Engeström, 1987) act in collaborative ways.

 

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Fig.2. Application of Engeström’s (1987) systemic model of activity featured in Seale (2006)

There are two parts to an Activity System - upper and lower. The upper part is the triangle drawn to represent the interaction of Subject, Tools and Object.

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Fig. 3.  Vygotsky.L.S. (1978) from Mind in Society.

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Fig.4. The structure of a human activity system. Engeström 1987.

Historically this is where Vygotsky began in Moscow in the late 1920s (Fig.3) Engeström and others turned the experssion of Vygotsky's model the other way up. This split of upper and lower serves another purpose - Yrjö Engeström likens this expression of an activity system to an iceberg where the top triangle - Subject - Tools - Object is what we see, while the other actions, that give the system context - he added when developing Vygostky’s (1978) original model, are beneath the surface. Engeström. (2008:89). (Fig.4) It's worth remembering that Vygotsky was working on how people create meaning, while later thinkers have adapted this to help scrutinise how communities or groups of people, tools and sets of guidelines create (as Engeström puts it above, 'sense meaning' Engeström 1987).

When is the construction of an Activity System useful?

Engeström (2008:27) suggests that it is particularly useful ‘when one wants to make sense of systemic factors behind seemingly individual and accidental disturbances, deviations, and innovations occurring in daily practices of workplaces’. Someone needs to think it is necessary to study the status quo - perhaps because there is an awareness that something, somewhere is going wrong, or that there has been an actual downturn in business or collapse in profitability, or a desire simply to look at things in a different way to understand where improvements can be made, a change in policy and law, or a reinvented or renewed.

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Fig. 5. Engeström.Y (2008) From Teams to Knots: Activity-theoretical studies of Collaboration and Learning at Work.

Engeström (2008:207) suggests that there are five principles in relation to theories of activity systems.

  1. Object Orientation
  2. Mediation by tools and signs
  3. Mutual constitution of actions and activity
  4. Contradictions and deviations as source of change
  5. Historicity

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Fig. 6 A White Knight from a Lewis Chess Set (replica) playing the role of the Object - the purpose, motivation and idea behind the activity in the system through whom sense is made or an outcome is derived.

1) Object Orientation

The Object is a problem, the purpose, the motivation and opportunity - the modus operandi behind the activity. ‘Object orientation’ (Engeström 2008:222) is a crucial prerequisite of working with an activity system. In the context of accessible e-learning Seale (2006:165) creates an Activity System in which the object(ive) is ‘to make e-learning accessible for disabled students’. As an exercise considering its widest application this object definition suffers because the object is so broad it embraces a myriad of issues and circumstances, each word is open to interpretation - what, for example, is meant by ‘e-learning’, what is meant by ‘accessible’ by ‘disabled’ and by ‘student’. Rather than an object as an opportunity or goal as Seale uses, a fix, the desired outcome, is more likely to be found where, at least in the first instance, we identify a particular context and a tightly defined problem.

Not only that, but to contain the likelihood of ‘ruptures’ across the activity system clarity and agreement is required on the problem that needs to be fixed. In relation to accessibility to e-learning for students with disabilities there are multiple problems, many unique to a student with a particular disability or, where feasible and appropriate, a group that can be identified by the nature of their disability, for example, deaf students who are seen as, and many want to see themselves as a ‘minority language’ group. What is more, a disabled student may have several impairments and the degree to which these are a barrier to e-learning is fluid, perhaps ameliorating with treatment, or getting worse, transmogrifying, or simply being intermittent. As these are known issues that would cause problems or clashes within the activity system and prevent its working it seems futile to build an activity system on this basis - knowing that it will fail.

A problem well stated is a problem half-solved’. (Charles Kettering)

This may be an aphorism, but it rings true. Problem scoping is necessary but where a problem remains elusive, or is ‘messy’ rather than ‘tame’ (Rittel and Webber's 1973, Ackoff 1979, Ritchey 2011) a variety of creative problem solving techniques (VanGundy, 1988. Griggs, 1985). Knowing what the problem is enables innovation - identifying the problem and devising a fix, and in communications, where, for example, advertisers prepare a creative brief that begins by clearly identifying the problem.

‘Object orientation’ and in this context, problem definition and refinement, is the first in five principles set out by Engeström (2008:207) for using activity systems. The drive, purpose and motivation for all the actions between the six identified nodes depends on the object ‘that which is acted upon’. A key component of activity theory is the transformation of this object into an outcome i.e. to solve the problem. If solving a problem is the goal, and recognition of a successful enterprise undertaken, then all the more reason to get the definition of the object correct - the process can be repeated for different problems, at different scales and over time. Without absolute clarity over the object you may find that different people in the system have differing interpretations of what it is. Kuutti (1996) found that having more than one object under scrutiny was a reason for an activity system to fail.  An answer where there are two distinct problems may be to treat them as such and attach them to separate activity systems. Whilst for the sake of scrutiny it is necessary to isolate an activity system, they do of course interact - indeed it is by looking at how two activity systems interact that you may reveal how problems are solved or innovations produced. However, if the object is wrong, or ill-defined or ambiguous then the motives may be out of kilter and it would therefore be necessary to transform all of the components of the activity system, especially and including those at the bottom half of the ‘iceberg’. Engeström (2008:87)

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Fig. 7. The black Queen from a Lewis Chess Set representing 'Tools'

2) Mediation by Tools and Signs

Tools might be evaluation and repair tools and assistive technologies, software or legislation, guidelines or staff development. Tools are a mediating factor between the Subject (student, lecturer, facilitator of the desire outcome) and the Object - the purpose of all this activity.

Tools play a significant role in the history of tackling accessibility issues, to undue, out do or transform resources or interpret platforms in a way that communicates their meaning offering some if not all the affordances of the tools as designed for students, who, having gained a place to study a degree  in Higher Education might be thought of as some the most able’, not simply the ‘able’.Tools in this role at the apex of the Activity System and can include guidelines and legislation where they are an applied ‘tool’ rather than a rule or standard. ‘ A functioning tool for the analysis of teams and organisations’. Engeström  (2008:229) Of course the category includes evaluation and repair tools, assistive technologies and software and equipment. Tools ‘mediate’ between the Subject - the facilitator of change through activity and the outcome of the activities - the Object. ‘To build a website that complies to level AAA’ may be achievable whilst ‘to make e-learning accessible for disabled students’ Seale (2006smile sounds like wishful thinking, rather ‘to build an e-learning module that when scrutinised by a representative range of people with dyslexia’ receives a grading of ‘satisfactory’ or above’. This would suggest the involvement therefore of dyslexic students in the testing of a navigation interface for the virtual learning environment as an ‘action’ between subject and object.

There is a particular congregation of ‘contradictions’ stemming from the relationship between Tools and both Subject and Object:

  1. The array of design and evaluation software applications (Seale, 2006)
  2. The mastery of external devices and tools of labour activity (Nardi, 1996)
  3. No rules of practice for use of that tool (Isscroft and Scanlan, 2002 )
  4. Tools that are overly prescriptive (Phipps et al, 2005)
  5. How do you choose from amongst such a plethora of tools?
  6. The context in which tools are introduced (Seale, 2006:160)

3) Mutual constitution of actions and activity

The links between each component - object, tool, subject and so on - should equate to a burst of electricity or perhaps a chemical induced response between a synapse and a neuron - Engestrom (2008) goes as far as to liken an activity system to a type of fungi - mycorrhizae like formation  Engestrom (1997).

 

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Fig.8. Mycorrhizae - one way Engeström sees an Activity System

An Activity System should be seen not as a concept of a static entity, but rather a living and growing thing. The actions, the double-arrows between each concept, are what gives an activity system structure  - it’s the management  of the disturbances, contradictions and conflicts along these lines of action that disturb effective flow where the role of an activity system comes in - identify then fix these and you move towards achieving the object orientation or outcome. Knorr-Cetina (2003) talks of 'flow architecture' and if neither of these concepts ring true for you in realtion to activity systems then Zerubavel (1997) talks of 'a mindscape' while Cussins (1992) talks of 'cogntive trails'.

4) Contradictions and deviations as source of change

I would have opted for Subject as the third issue, but reading Engeström made me think again. Subject, Tools, Object reduces the Activity System to the far simpler upturned triangle Vygotsky devised to explain how people create meaning (Vygotsky, 1978:86)  without further thought to the deeper and wider issues once learning is put in context, that Engeström (1987, 2008, 2011) added by broadening this way of showing how ‘meaning is created’ in the workplace by adding Rules, Community and Division of Labour.

Rather than picking one more of these concepts at the expense of leaving the others out I think that the ‘Actions’ the double arrows that indicate something happening between the elements is of interest. I believe this would be the fourth of Engeström's five principles - Contradictions and deviations as source of change. This after all is, literally, where all the ‘action’ takes place, what Seale (2006:164) describes as ‘problems, ruptures, breakdowns or clashes’.  (I need to go back and to understand what is meant by Engeström's third principle - ‘Mutual constitution of actions and activity’) I think this is the principle that the Activity System has to be seen as a complete, self-contained entity, that any break or failure or misunderstanding in the system would call it to fail so you’d be better of starting again from scratch until the scale or context works. Engeström uses the metaphor of a very particular kind of lichen (‘mycorrhizae’, Engeström, 2008:229) to describe Activity Systems - he doesn’t suggest however that you attempt to work with this kind of complexity, rather it is a reminder that an activity system is fluid and changing and depends on activity taking places between the defined nodes.

5) Historicity

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Fig. 9. A discontinuous series of Activity Systems ... like Toblerone at Christmas.

'Historicity' - Engeström's experssion (2008) - is a term referring to 'the historical actuality of persons and events',(Wikipedia, 2012) suggests the need to see an Activity System as a snapshot, a sequence and a discontinuous one at that. So take the familiar equilateral triangle of the Activity System model and run a line of them. Seale (2006) suggests there is value to be found by doing some 'archaelogy' - I think 'historical research' would be an adequate way to think of it, for what this may reveal about how these 'rupture, conflicts' Seale (ibid) or 'contraditions and devistions as a source or change' Engeström (2008:223) along the lines of activity. Seale (2006) talks of how an activity system 'incesstanly reconstructs itself. Engeström (1994) talks of an ideal-typical sequence of epistemic actgions in an expansive cycle.

Subject

By definition here the ‘non-disabled’, particularly in the cognitive sense though sometimes with athletic promise too. Ironically whilst ‘non-disabled’ is not a favoured term it does at least relate to a homogenous group, while ‘disabled’ does not given the range, scale and potentially shifting nature of impairments to learning from hearing, to visual, cognitive and mobility.

Subject to be of most importance - this is the person, actor or lecturer, indeed a student - anyone who is responsible for facilitating and supporting the student’s learning experience. This may be a practitioner who works with a Higher Education Learning Technologist or the digital media access group if there is such a thing. Engeström (2008:222).

Any of the team members may be a novice, which may be a positive or negative influence for the actions in the system. A novice is inexpert, on the other hand they are free from the habits that may be causing problems and creating barriers. Because of the way a novice learns they are more inclined to innovate as they are not bound or even aware to rules, guidelines and beliefs that may hold them back.

Rules

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Fig. 10 A collection of pawns from a Lewis Chess set representing 'Rules'

These can be formal, informal or technical rules. They are institutional and departmental policies and strategies. These are rules of practice, and legislation, as well as strategies and research. They are explicit and implicit norms. These are conventions and social relations. These in the context of accessible e-learning are the various guidelines related to web usability and legislation related to accessibility and equality. Universal Design and User Centred Design are rules too. Rules mediate between the subject and the community. The actions, the 'doing in order to transform something' or 'doing with a purpose' are the activities that link Rules with Subject, Rules with Object and Rules with Community.

Community

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Fig. 11. An Activity System represented by chess pieces.This 'Community' comprises the King and two bishops from replica of the Lewis Chess Set.

These are 'people who share the same objective' - their being in this activity system is dependent on their wishing to engage with the object, the opportunity, to strive to achieve the stated outcome. Any ruptures are therefore not a consequence of having the wrong person in this community - this grouping, this loose gathering of like-minded people, is what Engestrom has come to describe as a knot and the actions these people take as 'knotworking' Engeström (2008:194) - latent, informal, sometimes impromptu gatherings of people who assemble to address a problem or to take an opportunity - what Rheingold (2002) describes as 'smart mobs'.

Division of Labor (sic)This concept, or node as an ethereal entity is 'how people are organized to realise the object'. Not one to represent by a chess piece and one may think that this ought to be the link that joins people together ... this is where working with a model as the beat of a heart, not the heart itself, requires acceptance of the way a model is designed to work. Division of labor (US spelling for a Finnish academic ... who has bases in Helsinki and San Diego). This is planning and funding, designing and developing, implementing and evaluating, using, specialists vs. the mainstream).

Conclusion

Digitization of assets is akin to the creation of an ocean in which the binary code are the molecules of water - apt then with the shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and our adopting the use of ‘the Cloud’ and ‘Cloud Computing’ to take this metaphor into a more dynamic form and think of it as a water-cycle. This system is shifting continually horizontally with currents and tides, but also vertically - the exponential growth in computing speeds and memory capacities the energy that drives the system. This global system hasn’t taken adequate account of people with disabilities - as in the real world there are barriers to access caused by visual, hearing, mobility and cognitive impairments - just as these have been addressed in a piecemeal way through legislation, funding, programmes and promotions, by disability groups or holistically, so too with adaptations or changes to the digital world - there is no panacea that will remove all barriers for all people with any disability, of any kind, type or stage of deterioration or amelioration.  Stretching the metaphor further I wonder if at times this digital water-cycle, again like the real one, is polluted, that translucence as well as flotsam and jetsam in this ocean are the barriers - on the one hand the pollutants have to be removed - the barriers taken down - but at the same time, cleaner purer water, in the form a universal design that is simpler and usable would gradually cleanse some of system. Once again, a mirror to the real world responses, specialist schools and associations, say for those with dyslexia are blind or deaf, become an oasis or island in this digital system. 

‘Those not engaging with technologies or without access are getting left further and further behind. We need to be mindful that the egalitarian, liberal view of new technologies is a myth; power and dynamics remain, niches develop and evolve. Applications of metaphorical notions of ecology, culture and politics can help us better understand and deal with these complexities'. (Conole. 2011:410)

FURTHER  READING

Cecez-Kecmanovic, Dubravka, and Webb.C (2000) "Towards a communicative model of collaborative web-mediated learning."Australian Journal of Educational Technology 16. 73-85. Towards a communicative model of collaborative web-mediated learning  (last accessed 20 Dec 2012) http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet16/cecez-kecmanovic.html

Hardman, J (2008) Researching pedagogy: an acitivty system approach Journal of Education, No. 45, 2008. PP65-95 (last accessed 20 Dec)  2012 http://joe.ukzn.ac.za/Libraries/No_45_Dec_2008/Researching_pedagogy_an_Activity_Theory_approach.sflb.ashx)

Engeström’s (1999) outline of three generations of activity theory (last accessed 20 Dec 2012) http://www.bath.ac.uk/research/liw/resources/Models%20and%20principles%20of%20Activity%20Theory.pdf

Engeström.Y (2008) From Teams to Knots: Activity-theoretical studies of Collaboration and Learning at Work. Learning in doing: Social, Cognitive & Computational Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. Series Editor Emeritus. John Seely Brown.

Engeström.Y (2011) Learning by expanding: ten years after (last accessed 19 Dec 20-12) http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Paper/Engestrom/expanding/intro.htm

REFERENCE

Ackoff, R.L. (1979) The Art of Problem-Solving, New York: Wiley

Conole, G (2011) Designing for learning in a digital world. Last accessed 18 Dec 2012 http://www.slideshare.net/grainne/conole-keynote-icdesept28

Conole, G. and Oliver, M. (eds) 2007 Contemporary Perspectives on E-learning Research, Themes, Tensions and Impacts on Research. London, RoutledgeFalmer.

Cussins, A. (1992). Content, embodiment and objectivity: The theory of cognitive trails. Mind, 101, 651–688.

Engestrom (2008-04-30). From Teams to Knots (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives) (p. 238). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Engeström, Y. (1987) Learning by Expanding: An Activity-theoretical Approach to Developmental Research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit.

Engeström, Y. (1994). The working health center project: Materializing zones of proximal
development in a network of organizational learning. In T. Kauppinen & M. Lahtonen (Eds.) Action research in Finland. Helsinki: Ministry of Labour.

Engeström.Y (1999) Learning by expanding. Ten Years After. http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Paper/Engestrom/expanding/intro.htm

Engeström.Y (2008) From Teams to Knots: Activity-theoretical studies of Collaboration and Learning at Work. Learning in doing: Social, Cognitive & Computational Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. Series Editor Emeritus. John Seely Brown.

Griggs, R.E. (1985) 'A Storm of Ideas', reported in Training, 22, 66 (November)

Issroff, K. and Scanlon, E. (2002) Using technology in higher education: an Activity Theory perspective. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 18, 1, 77–83

Knorr-Cetina, K. (2003). From pipes to scopes: The flow architecture of financial markets. Distinktion, 7, 7–23.

Kuutti, K. (1996) Activity theory as a potential framework for human–computer interaction research. In B. Nardi (ed.) Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human–Computer Interaction. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, pp. 17–44.

Leon’tev.A.N. (1978) Activity, consciousness, and personality. Englewood Cliffs. NJ. Prentice-Hall.

Moessenger, S (2011) Sylvia’s Study Blog (Last accessed 19 Dec 2012) http://sylviamoessinger.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/h809-reading-oliver-et-al-chapter-2-a3-6/

Phipps, L., Witt, N. and Kelly, B. (2005) Towards a pragmatic framework for accessible e-learning. Ariadne, 44. Online. Available HTTP: <http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/ issue44/ phipps/> (last accessed 19 Dec 2012).

Rheingold, H. (2002). Smart mobs: The next social revolution. Cambridge, MA: Perseus.

Ritchey, T. (2011) Wicked Problems - Social Messes: Decision support Modelling with Morphological Analysis.Springer.

Rittel.W.J., Webber.M.M. (1973) Dilemmas in a general theory of planning Policy Sciences, June 1973, Volume 4, Issue 1,

Seale, J. (2006) E-learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice

VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed, Van Norstrand Reinhold. Techniques 4.01, 4.06, 4.57

Vygotsky.L.S. (1978) Mind in Society. The development of higher psychological process. Cambridge. MA.

Wikipedia (2012) Definition of 'Historicity' - (last accessed 19 Dec 2012) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity

Zerubavel, E. (1997). Social mindscapes: An invitation to cognitive sociology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

 

 

 

 

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Design for everybody

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:33

Design for everybody from BBH with the voice of Stephen Hawking.

 

 

 

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H810 : Activity 32 Blogs on accessibility and disability in learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 19:02

BLOGS ON ACCESSIBILITY

Disability in business

http://disabilityinbusiness.wordpress.com/
Jonathan, who has a degenerative spinal condition which means he uses a wheelchair and has carers to assist him, has first hand experience of the challenges faced by people living with disabilities – especially in the business world. “I used to run multi-million pound companies and I’d go with some of my staff into meetings with corporate bank managers and they’d say to my staff, ‘it’s really good of you to bring a service user along’, and I’d say, ‘hang on, I’m the MD –  it’s my money!’ 

Disability Marketing

http://drumbeatconsulting.com/

Michael Janger has a passionate interest in products and technologies that enable people with disabilities to enjoy a better quality of life, and works with businesses to effectively market and sell these products to the disability market.

Think Inclusive

http://www.thinkinclusive.us/start-here/
I think there are two basic assumptions that you need in order support inclusion (in any context)

  1. All human beings are created equal (you know the American way) and deserve to be treated as such.
  2. All human beings have a desire to belong in a community and live, thrive and have a sense of purpose.

The important takeaway…when you assume people want to belong. Then is it our duty as educators, parents, and advocates to figure out how we can make that happen.

Institute of Community Inclusion

http://www.youtube.com/communityinclusion
For over 40 years, the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) has worked to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunity to dream big, and make their dreams a fully included, integrated, and welcomed reality. ICI strives to create a world where all people with disabilities are welcome and fully included in valued roles wherever they go, whether a school, workplace, volunteer group, home, or any other part of the community. All of ICI's efforts stem from one core value: that people with disabilities are more of an expert than anyone else. Therefore, people with disabilities should have the same rights and controls and maintain lives based on their individual preferences, choices, and dreams.

Cerebral Palsy Career Builders

http://www.cerebral-palsy-career-builders.com/discrimination-definition.html

How to deal with the following:

  1. Bias
  2. Presumption
  3. Myth
  4. Skepticism
  5. Prejudice
  6. Discrimination
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H818 - The Networked Practitioner - New for Autumn 2013

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 07:50

Fig. 1. The Digital Scholar

Martin Weller's Digital Scholar becomes the basis for H818 - The Networked Practitioner

This new e-learning module from the Open University uses Martin Weller’s book The Digital Scholar is part of a wide range of open access material used for the module and Martin is one of the authors of the module content.

Chapter 1 - Read it here on the Bloomsbury website

Over the last couple of years I have said how much I would like to 'return' to the traditional approach to graduate and postgraduate learning - you read a book from cover to cover and share your thinking on this with fellow students and your tutor - perhaps also a subject related student society.

Why know it if it works?

Fig. 2. The backbone of H810 Accessible Online Learning is Jane Seale's 2006 Book.

Where the author has a voice and authority, writes well and in a narrative form, it makes for an easier learning journey - having read the Digital Scholar participants will find this is the case.

As in the creation of a TV series or movie a successful publication has been tested and shows that there is an audience.

The research and aggregation has been done - though I wonder if online exploiting a curated resource would be a better model? That e-learning lends itself to drawing upon multiple nuggets rather than a single gold bar.

There are a couple of caveats related to this tactic:

  1. Keeping the content refreshed and up to date. Too often I find myself reading about redundant technologies - the solution is to Google the cited author and see if they have written something more current - often, not surprisingly from an academic, you find they have elaborated or drilled into a topic they have made their own in the last 18 months.
  2. Lack of variety. Variety is required in learning not simply to avoid the predictable - read this, comment on this, write an assignment based on this ... but this single voice may not be to everyone's liking. Can you get onto their wave length? If not, who and where are the alternative voices?

 

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What communicating with a person in a vegetative state can do for e-learning

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The self-drive car will allow those with sight, mobility and other disabilities to travel when and where they want for the first time - had accessibility laws been enforced 100 years ago how far would cars have got? The self-drive computer is a decade away - this is a computer controlled by the user's thoughts - something already trialled by communicating with people in a vegatitive state - will this be the ultimate degree of accessibility? Legislation and policy sets the bar overwhich institutions must step - this bar should be raised constantly to strive to keep not too far behind what is possible. From time to time it would be valuable for someone to reach way beyond, this will be achieved by working with disabled students, the case of the patient in a vegative state the most extreme example - knowledge gained in that extreme example offering insights that could be used in the general population and of course with people who are far less disabled than this extreme.
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Lego Education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 19:37

Bill%2520Furniss%2520%252B%2520UKCC3%25208NOV08%25201.jpg

Fig.1. Coach training with Bill Furniss, Nottingham

The Amateur Swimming Association, who train all our swimming teachers and coaches up to the highest level through the Institue of Swimming, have a hundred or so Open Learn like modules that take typically 2-3 hours to do including things like 'Coaching Disabled Athletes' and 'Working with athletes with learning difficulties'. And other important refresher modules such as child protection.

Paralympics%2520LEXI%2520C4%2520SNIP.JPG

Fig.2. Learning for disabled students needs to be tailored to their specific needs

As we have now seen on H810 : Accessible Online Learning - far more so than in the general population, there are specific and complex needs. The general disability awareness for sport says, 'see the ability not the disability, play to their strengths' - as a coach you have to identify strengths from weaknesses.

TBT%2520BR%25201.JPG

Fig.3. Using an endless pool to examine swimming technique

Once you are working with an athlete then you find you need more specific knowledge on a, b, or c - which might be an amputee, someone with cerebral palsy, or no hearing. Each person is of course very different, first as a person (like us all), then in relation to the specifics of their disability so a general course for tutors and teachers then becomes a waste of time.

Lego%2520Learning%2520Institute%25201.JPG

Fig.4. Lego Education using Lego Techniks

If we think of this kind of e-training as construction with Lego Techniks, then once you're past the introduction a 'set of bricks' should be used to assemble more specific answers and insights - even getting users - in this instance a coach and athlete, to participate in the construction based on their experience i.e. building up hundreds of case studies that have an e-learning component to them. The Lego Educational Institute are an astute bunch, their thinking on learning profound, modern and hands on.

Perhaps I should see what I can come up with, certainly working with disabled athletes the coach to athlete relationship is more 1 to 1 than taking a squad of equally 'able' swimmers. Then apply it to other contexts. And Lego are the ones to speak to.

'Lego Education' are worth looking at.

The thinking is considered, academic and modern - written in language that is refreshingly clear and succinct given the subject matter. The idea of 'flow' - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - is included while the 'Four Cs' of learning is a good way to express the importance of collaborative, self-directed construction and reflection:

  • Connect
  • Construct
  • Contemplate
  • Continue

 

 


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H810 : Do you need help getting around?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 7 Dec 2012, 16:54

IMG_3883.JPG

Fig.1. Signage plonked in your face as you exit the tube station at Tower Hill

My antennae are out for anything and everything to do with accessibility - this caught my eye because there is no mention of disability or accessibility - nor should there be. I find phrases like 'disabled persons' or, instead of the icons such as these -  words like 'wheel-chair user', 'blind' or 'visually impaired' and 'deaf' as out-moded and inappropriate as efforts to define 'people of colour'.

I rather liked the 'older old' which I say in something yesterday - by anyone's reckoning Rupert Murdoch at 82 is 'old' whereas his mother who died yesterday was certainly 'older old'. Given how long-lived we are becoming Shakespeare's 'Seven Ages of Man' ought to be rephrased as 'the nine (or ten) ages of ... 'persons' (yuk)

I rather like 'oldies' too - but do they?

The relevance of this two-fold: the integration rather than the segration of disability into the population - at many levels we are all just 'people' and the language should reflect this; universal language as well as universal design - so understanding at what 'levels' words also need to be chosen with care. As this sign does so well there is no need or value in defining the need by labelling people with certain disabilities, at deeper levels then yes, clarifying and responding, for example to a visual impairment and then refining this to the blind, legally bling, sight impaired, short sighted and so on is necessary. Getting the context right matters. Giving it some thought - and having people in place to give it this thought - helps.

FURTHER LINKS

Transport for London

Transport and access to public services

Transport for London - Disability Guides

Mayor of London Access Policy

 

 

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H810 Activity 27.4 : Alternative formats

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 19:49

Read this web page and consider to what extent the six challenges mentioned are addressed in your context:

Mis-Adventures in Alt Format (Stewart, 2007)
http://www.altformat.org/index.asp?id=119&pid=222&ipname=GB

Pick one challenge and write a paragraph in your tutor group wiki explaining how it is relevant to your context.  
____________

Developing a total picture of how Alt Format fits into the broader discussion of curricular reform and modernization will help insure that we do not continue to live on the margins of the educational mainstream. (Stewart, 2007)

'Universal Design for Learning'

Challenges in relation to Alternative Formats:

  1. How does the provision of Alt Format fit into other emerging models for data management and delivery?
  2. How do we build systemic capacity to meet the projected needs for Alt Format and Accessible Curricular Materials?
  3. How do we align the divergent Alt Format efforts occurring on an international bases so that they minimize redundancies and duplicative efforts?
  4. How do we move beyond the current focus on Blind and Visual disabilities to a more holistic model of access for the gamut of print disabilities?
  5. How do we develop the level of technological literacy in students with print disabilities that will be necessary for them to benefit from the technological evolutions that are occurring in curricular access?
  6. How do we involve all of the curricular decision makers in the process of providing fully accessible materials?

In my context


1) How does the provision of Alt Format fit into other emerging models for data management and delivery?

With the digitization of everything a further step to ensure content is also accessible should be taken at the time of conversation or creation. I’m not aware in an agency where this ever occurs and when there is a client request the response is a simple one - word or PDF formats, or look to the browser of platform where the content will sti.

2) How do we build systemic capacity to meet the projected needs for Alt Format and Accessible Curricular Materials?

Is there a more appropriate agent to handle the conversion and delivery of electronic content on a given campus or system of campuses? I’d probably consider the Open University itself, or the Business School where I worked for a while. I know the disability officer, but his role was more to do with access and personnel and visitors to the building then meeting student needs - which I presume comes under Student Services.

3) How do we align the divergent Alt Format efforts occurring on an international bases so that they minimize redundancies and duplicative efforts?

Whilst efforts can and have to be made to improve access universally might the fine detail be left to address either group issues by working with representatitives of associations for, for example, the blind, dyslexia, cerebral palsy and other groups ? Learning from then improving such practices and tackling access for people from these groups for specific subjects and specific levels on a strategic basis knowing that complete coverage is the goal?

‘A plan for the development and incorporation of emerging technologies in a holistic and self-sustaining model is incumbent. These emerging systems must be based on flexibility and economies of scale if we are ever going to get in front of the issues of materials access.’ (Stewart, 2007)

4) How do we move beyond the current focus on Blind and Visual disabilities to a more holistic model of access for the gamut of print disabilities?

Doesn’t cover everyone who would benefit and would benefit other groups, such as non-native language populations, remedial groups and as an alternative for any user who may prefer or benefit from the text record.

5) How do we develop the level of technological literacy in students with print disabilities that will be necessary for them to benefit from the technological evolutions that are occurring in curricular access?

In many anecdotal reports, less than 10% of the incoming students to higher education have ever had any realistic exposure to the access technologies they will need to be successful in adult education and in the world of work. (Stewart, 2007)

Current studies suggest the opposite, that students with disabilities who gain so much from having a computer to access resources, that they are digitally literate. There are always people who for all kinds of reasons have had less exposure to or are less familiar with the technology -whether or not they also have a disability.

6) How do we involve all of the curricular decision makers in the process of providing fully accessible materials?

The original authors never have a say or make a contribution to the reversioning of content for use by disabled students.

This method of access often times results in the retrofit of existing materials, or the creation of alternative access methods that are not as efficient or well received in the general classroom environment. (Stewart, 2007)

For a truly effective model to be developed the original curriculum decisions should be made in a context of understanding the needs of all learners, and in particular those learners who do now have visual orientation to the teaching and learning process. (Stewart, 2007)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Interview analysis revealed five personal factors that appeared to influence students’ decisions about technology use:

  1. a desire to keep things simple,
  2. a lack of DSA awareness,
  3. self-reliance,
  4. IT skills and digital literacy,
  5. a reluctance to make a fuss.

The three most talked about factors were desire to keep things simple, IT skills and digital literacy. Seal and Draffan (2010:455)

‘The are many ways of making and communicating meaning in the world today.’ Conole (2007:169)

The kind of problems students with disabilities now face are different - less whether content has been made available in a digital format, but how good the tools and services are to access this content.

  • accessibility of websites and course/learning management systems (CMS)
  • accessibility of digital audio and video
  • inflexible time limits built into online exams
  • PowerPoint/data projection during lectures
  • course materials in PDF
  • lack of needed adaptive technologies.

Students also mentioned technical difficulties using e-learning and connecting to websites and CMS, problems downloading and opening files, web pages that would not load, video clips taking too long to download, poor use of e-learning by professors and their own lack of knowledge  working with elearning.

For most groups of students, solving e-learning problems by using non e-learning solutions was also popular.

During the last decade there has been tremendous development and interest in e-learning on campus. While our research shows the many benefits of e-learning, such as the availability of online course notes, there are also problems. Chief among these are problems related to inaccessibility of websites and course management systems. (Fitchen et al 2009:253)

Digital Agility

Results suggest that an important personal resource that disabled students in the study drew on when using technologies to support their studies was their ‘digital agility’. Seal and Draffan (2010:449)

Use of assistive technologies

Many students with disabilities have, since 2007, developed strategies for the use of both specialist assistive technologies (e.g. IrisPro, quill mouse, Kurzweil, Inspiration or Dragon Dictate) as well as more generic technologies (e.g. mobile phone, DS40 digital recorder, Google) Seal and Draffan (2010:450)

Seal and Draffan (2010:451) therefore suggest that disabled students have the kind of ‘sophisticated awareness’ that Creanor et al. (2006) described when they talked about effective learners being prepared to adapt activities, environments and technologies to suit their own circumstances. This contradicts somewhat the arguments of Stewart who argues that disabled students are behind other students in terms of developing digital literacies.

The digital agility of the students, identified in the study, is significant in terms of encouraging practitioners not to view all disabled students as helpless victims of exclusion. Digital inclusion does not always have to be understood through the dual lenses of deficits and barriers. Seal and Draffan (2010:458)

REFERENCE

Conole, G and Oliver, M (eds)  2007. Contemporary perspectives in E-Learning Research. Themes, methods and impact on practice.

Fichten, C. S., Ferraro, V., Asuncion, J. V., Chwojka, C., Barile, M., Nguyen, M. N., & ... Wolforth, J. (2009). Disabilities and e-Learning Problems and Solutions: An Exploratory Study. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 241-256.

Seale,J., Draffan,E.A. (2010) Digital agility and digital decision-making: conceptualising digital inclusion in the context of disabled learners in higer education, Studies in Higher Education, 35:4, 445-461

Stewart, R (2007) Mis-Adventures in Alt Format

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H810 Open University Disability Conference 2012

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 Aug 2013, 07:02

Open University Disability Conference 2012

Edited by Christopher Douce, 19 November, 18:27
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On 14 November 2012 I attended the Open University Disability Conference held at a conference centre close to the university.  The last time I attended this event was back in 2010.   I wrote a summary of the 2010 conference which might be useful to some (I should add that I've had to mess around a bit to get a link to this earlier summary and there is a possibility that this link might go to different posts since I can't quite figure out how to get a permalink, but that's a side issue...)

The conference was a two day event but due to other things I had to be getting on with I could only attend one of the days.  From my experience of the first conference, the second day tends to be quite dramatic (and this year proved to be no exception).

The legacy of the Paralympics

Julie Young from Disabled Student Services kicked off the day by introducing Tony O'Shea-Poon, head of equality and diversity.  Tony gave a presentation entitled 'A lot can change in 64 years' which described the history of the Paralympic games whilst at the same time putting the games into the context of disability equality.

During the Paralympics I remember a television drama that presented the origins of the games.  Tony reminded us that it began in 1948 at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital.  The first ever Paralympic games (with the 'para' meaning 'alongside') taking place in Rome in 1960.

One of the striking aspects of Tony's presentation is that it was presented in terms of 'forces'; forces which have increased the awareness of issues that impact upon the lives of people with disabilities.  Relating back to the origins of the games, one force is the allies of people with disabilities.  There is also the role that role models can play, particularly in popular media.

Two other forces include disabled peoples involvement and the disability rights movement.  Tony spoke about something that I had not known of before.  During the late 1980s I remember a number of public 'telethon' events - extended TV shows that aimed to raise money for charitable causes.  In 1992 there was a campaign to 'block telethon'.  This is a message that people with disabilities should have rights, not charity.  This connects with a movement away from a more historic medical and charity model of disability to a social model where people with disabilities should have an equal rights and opportunities within society. Tony also mentioned the importance of legislation, particularly the disability rights commission, explicitly mentioning role of Sir Bert Massie.

Tony brought us to the present day, emphasising not only recent successes (such as the Paralympic games), but also current challenges; Tony drew our attention to protests in August of this year by disabled people against government cuts.   Legitimate protest is considered to be another force that can facilitate change.

Deb Criddle: Paralympian

Jane Swindells from the university disability advisory service introduced Deb Criddle (Wikipedia), paralympian gold and silver medallist.  Deb gained one gold medal and two silver medals in London 2012, as well as gaining gold medals in Athens.

This part of the day took the form of a question and answer session, with Jane asking the first questions.  Deb reflected on the recent Paralympic games and described her personal experiences.  One of the key points that Deb made was that it was great that the games focussed people's attention on abilities and not disabilities.  It also had the effect of the making disability more normalised.

One thing that I remember from living in London at the time of the Olympics and Paralympics is that people were more open to talking to each other.  Deb gave us an anecdote that the games created opportunities for conversations (about and with people with disabilities) which wouldn't have otherwise happened.

Deb said that she 'wasn't expecting the support we had'.  On the subject of support she also made an important point that the facilities and support services that are available within the UK are very different to the facilities that are available in other countries.  At the time of the Paralympics I remember reading stories in the London Metro (the free newspaper that is available ever week day morning) about campaigners who were trying to obtain equipment and resources for some of the competitors.

Deb also shared with us aspects of her personal story.  She said that through accident and circumstance led to opportunities, journeys, growth and amazing experiences.  What was once a passing interest (in equestrianism) became a central interest.  Deb also spoke about the challenge of confronting a disability.  One of Deb's phrases strongly resonated with me (as someone who has an unseen disability), which was, 'I hadn't learnt to laugh at myself'.

Deb is also an OU student.  She studied at the same time as training.  Deb said, 'study gives you something else to focus on... trying too hard prevents you to achieving what you need to [achieve], it is a distraction in a sense'.  She also emphasised the point that study is can often be hard work.

I've made a note of a final phrase of Deb's (which probably isn't word for word) which is certainly worth repeating; its message is very clear: 'please don't be overwhelmed by people with disability; people coming together [in partnership] can achieve', and also, 'take time to engage with people, you can learn from their stories, everyone is different'.

Workshops

Throughout the conference there were a couple of workshops, a number of which were happening in parallel.  I was only able to attend one of them.  The one I chose was entitled 'Asperger's syndrome: supporting students through timely interventions', facilitated by Martina Carroll.  The emphasis on this workshop was about providing information to delegates and I've done my best to summarise the key points that I picked up.

The first point was that people who may have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome can be very different; you can't (and shouldn't) generalise about the abilities of someone who may have a diagnosis.

The workshop touched upon the history of the syndrome.  Martina mentioned Leo Kanner (Wikipedia) who translated some work by Hans Asperger.  Asperger's is understood as a developmental disorder that has a genetic basis (i.e. highly heritable). Martina mentioned a triad of impairments: communication difficulties (both expressive and receptive), potential difficulties with social interaction, and restricted and repetitive behaviours.  A diagnosis will be considered to have two out of the three potential impairments.

Martina also touched upon that some people can have exceptional skills, such as skills in memory and mathematics, but again, it is important to remember that everyone is different.  Due to the nature of the triad of impairments, co-existing conditions need to be considered, such as such as stress, anxiety and depression.

A final question is what accommodations can be made for people who have autism? TEACCH (Wikipedia) was mentioned, which is an educational model for schools which has the potential to offer some useful guidance.  One key point is that providing learning materials that have a clearly defined structure (such as the module calendar) can certainly help everyone.

Towards the end of the session, there was some time for group discussions.  The group that I was (randomly) assigned to discussed the challenges of group work, how important it was to try to facilitate constant communication between different people (which include mentors and advocates) and challenges surrounding examinations and assessment.

There are a number of resources that were mentioned that may be useful.  I didn't know this, but the Open University runs a module entitledUnderstanding the autism spectrum (OU website). The module is centred around a book by Ilona Roth called Autism in the 21st Century (publishers website).  Another resource is Francesca Happe's Lecture at the Royal Society, entitled When will we understand Autistic Spectrum Disorders? (Royal Society website) I really recommend this lecture - it is very easy to follow and connects very strongly with the themes of the workshop.  There is also theNational Autistic Society website, which might also be useful.

Performance

The final part of the day was very different.  We were introduced to three stand-up comics.  These comics were not disabled comics, they were comics who just happened to incidentally have a disability.  Comedy has the ability to challenge; it allows others to see and understand instances of people's lives in a warm and undeniably human way.  The 'something' that we all have in common with each other is an ability to laugh.  When you laugh at a situation that is tough and challenging and begin to appreciate the absurdity and richness of life. Tough situations don't seem as difficult anymore; laughter gives you a power to rise above a situation.  In a way, the conference reflects this since it was all about sharing experience with a view to empowering and helping people.

The comics were Steve Day, Liam O'Caroll and Lawrence Clark.  All were fabulous, but I especially enjoyed Lawrence's set which I understand was a show that he took to the Edinburgh Festival.  His set had a theme based on the word 'inspiring'; he successfully sent himself up, along with others who may be inclined to use that word.

Reflections

Julie Young closed the conference by emphasising some of the themes that were explored through the conference.   Julie emphasised the importance of working together to deliver a service for our students and how this is connected with equality and rights.  A key point is that the abilities our students are what really matters.  Julie went on to emphasise the continued need to listen attentively to those who we serve.

With conferences that have multiple parallel sessions you can sometimes feel that you're missing out on something, which is always a shame.  During the lunch break, I heard how other delegates had appreciated hearing from students talking about their experiences of studying at the Open University.  Personal stories allow people to directly connect with the challenges and difficulties that people face, and whilst on one hand there may be successes, there are other situations in which we don't do the best that we can or support for people doesn't arrive on time.  Conferences such as these emphasise the importance of keeping our attention on students with disability whilst at the same time emphasising that different departments of the university need to talk to each other to ensure that we can offer the best possible support.  Talking also permits us to learn more about what we can do to change things, so meetings such as these are invaluable.

I also have a recollection from the previous conference I attended.  I remember talking to someone (I'm not sure who this was) who seemed to express surprise that I was from a 'faculty' (i.e. an academic) as opposed to a part of the university that was directly involved in support of students (I tend to conflate the two roles together).  I was surprised that my presence caused surprise.  Although this year I felt that there were more faculty representatives coming along than perhaps there were before, I do (personally) feel that there should be a broader spectrum of delegates attending.

All in all, I felt that I benefitted from the day.  I met people who I had never met before and the objectives of facilitating communication, sharing practice and re-energising delegates had clearly been met.

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H810 Activity 15.1 Assistive Technology

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 19 Oct 2014, 10:55

20121022-102631.jpg

Fig.1 Assitive technologies to improve access to e-learning

There are a myriad of hardware and software tools that alongside other assistive technologies a disabled person may use to improve access to learning. As part of the MA in Open and Distance Educaiton (MAODE) module H810 Accessible Online Learning : Supporting Disabled Students we are reviewing the widest range of circumstances and tools - and MBA like applying these to our own contexts.

When I started this course I did wonder if it couldn't be covered in a weekend residential – boy am I mistaken.

So much so that I think it should be a 60 pointer over several more months.

If we can remember back to the Paralympics just think of the vast scale and variety of access issues these athletes had, then add cognitive impairments for which the Olympics are unable to cater - then think of any impairment as a position on a spectrum that includes us - our vision, our hearing, our mobility and cognitive skills are on here somewhere too. Indeed, there are tools that come out of assistive technology that have value to all of us, from automatic captioning, tagging and transcription of video, to screens over which we have greater control. Here area few I picked out:

HEAD POINTERS

20121022-100855.jpg

Head pointers need to suit the precise needs, wishes and expectations of the user and may be used in conjunction with other tools and software. A sophisticated package such as TrackerPro costs £1,288 and includes head, visor and shoulder kit, a tracking webcame and software. At this level it can be used to engage with computer games, as well as to use packages designed to suit the users other needs in relation to visual and audio impairment. These packages are supported by assessors.

KEYBOARDS

20121022-102029.jpg

Keyboards come in a plethora of shapes, sizes, textures and colours, with various overlays and supporting software for single hand or head pointer use too.

Integrated with screens, wheelchair, hardware and software a market leader for people with considerable mobile impairment, voice and sight impairment such as DynaVox Vmax will cost £9,000. There is considerable online support, with videos too. Setting up and support from an assessor is provided.

Beyond the tools provided with the operating system or browsers which will magnify images to a reasonable degree, there are software bundles such iZoom (PC) £321 and VisioVoice (MAC) £232 with a far greater level of sophistication and adjustment to suit users with sight impairments, dyslexia and mobility requirements. Working with a variety of inputting devices this allows the user to make many kinds of adjustments to the way information is displayed.

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H810 Activity 14.1 Using assistive technology - reflection on access to learning through acccess to work

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 21 Oct 2012, 14:42


20121021-084048.jpg

Fig.1 From 'Access to work' a video from MicroLink

Any of us could or will stumble the first time we are faced with a new tool or piece of software - I'd like to see any of us tested using a tool such as Delicious or ScoopIt and see how we get on, or trying to use a Microwriter, programme the washing machine or even turn on someone else's Microwave.

All experiences become familiar in time if we give them a go or get some useful tips. The same implies whether or not you have a disability or combination of disabilities or not.

To make sense of the plethora of accessibility tools, software and built-in 'assists' - and the equally enormous combinations and varieties of people who may benefit from using them I am having to get into my minds eye four people, or 'personas' who have quite different needs and imagine them, in context, wanting to and trying to use tools that ought to improve access for them. Some intriguingly are likely to suit all users if they offer a short cut or a different way into the information - I prefer a transcript over lectures. I like to use narrator in the car or when busy with some other task like painting the shed - the book is read to me as I can't do what I am doing and look at the screen at the same time. I call this the 'Montesori Effect' - how meeting a learning challenge for one community of learners you gain insights and create tools that benefit everyone.

As for any of us, when it comes to learning, context is important whether we have the space, time, kit and inclination. There is a big difference between giving something a go and having to use it with a set goal in mind. Anyone remember the first time they had to create something using PowerPoint, or Word come to think of it? Or writing a blog - let alone embedding images, video or audio.

Some of this reminds me of my first computer - an Amstrad. All green text and no mouse. My father got himself a Microwriter and mastered it. Bizarre. Confined to a wheelchair (badly broken leg from skiing) for some months in my early teens I ought to have been able to keep up with school work - but somehow a box of books didn't do it for me.

When I get stuck I can now turn to a son, daughter or my wife who may or may not be able to help. We also pick up the phone to 'The Lewes Computer Guy' for technical fixes. Had I a disability how likely is it that I can turn to someone with the very same set of challenges that I face for tips and advice? On some context a blind person will and can turn to a supportive community, but this might not be so easy if you are, or feel like, the only person with Dyslexia or Cerebral Palsy at your schoolor university.

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Check out this video on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUIYuJ62Qbs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

| was introduced to Francesca Martinez performing on the stand-up comedy circuit by The OU as we are currently doing a module on accessibility to e-learning. Francesca has cerebral palsy - she doesn't let that get in her way. Her brand of sit-down stand-up comedy is infecticious, revealing and timely.

Catch the Saturday 6th September edition of 'The News Quiz'.

Knowing a number of young people with cerebral palsy I know to be more attentive - just because, to varying degrees, they may struggle to get their words out, does not mean they don't have something to say. The other lesson is to be open, to be frank - you have to ask openly with them what they can or cannot do, or would like to do or overcome. Even if I had some professional knowledge of a range of disabilities it will still be necessary to discuss with the individual where they stand - something that may shift week on week, in their favour after operations or against if the disease is degenerative. The difference here compared to the general population is accommodation rather than indulgence - it puts into sharp perspective the young person or parent of a young person who pushes and stretches the bounds of indulgence forgetting that life of necessity includes compromise, and give as well as take.

The barriers to this are time, numbers and comprehension - as well as any inherent risks in relation to the learning environment. As a 'lead educator' - a teacher or coach, you have to respond to the current situation as it unfolds. It helps to have some sense of who the people are, to know where their individual strengths and weaknesses lie.

If time is one issue, then make more time as a result if preparation, even arrange to meet some students earlier if this is possible so that you can fit in a quick word with them.

If numbers are an issue then be slick with registarations, insist on people turning up in good time and if necessary stagger the start - in some situations an assistant or parent should help out, to guide one person or to pick up on some tasks (the issue here is where a young person is very concsciously trying to be more independent). If comprehension and communication are an issue, then do the above - give it more time and find ways to cope with the numbers, then be open and accommodating, use common sense to find or be told the best way to communicate - ideally therefore have some kind of hand-over where you can be introduced to the best way forward. Returning to Francesca Martinez - she held her own and deserved to be on the show - she is funy and spontaneous, blunt and entertaining. She can only be judged on these qualities in this context - access means removing or alleviating barriers to get onto such a stage, it does not mean changing the height if the bar, just as an undergraduate with a disabilitiy starting in higher education having got to this level has to be judged by how they perform, assessed or judged at the same level as other undergraduates. In relation to e-learning this means creating access where there is a barrier, while maintaining standards when it comes to assessment and awarding qualifications.

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Teaching as performance - a challenge and entertainment, accessible and reversioned

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 23 Sep 2012, 09:39

Jeremy%2520Hard%2520SNIP.JPG

Fig.1. Jeremy Hardy 1.

Teaching is a performance Jeremy Hardy, The News Quiz, Episode 78, Series 3.

He's got a point, teaching (and coaching) is a performance - we should plan for performance too, but can I quote him? In a discussion, but not in an assignment – though I have little doubt there are those who I can cite from education and sport who say the same thing or something similar. Not only does Jeremy Hardy quip about teaching as 'performance' but he suggests that teachers who were 'characters' provided a benefit too – that and the Grammar School Experience.

Where do we get characters in e–learning?

Where indeed do we get humour or spectacle? Both are ways to create memories and so embed learning, even to motivate students and create a following. How can a tutor do this in e-learning, and if they did a Robin Williams ala Dead Poet's Society would they be sacked? I can think of a tutor who ran a forum who was the heart and soul of the module - probably cost him 15 hours input for the 5 he was paid for. however, if he decided to run a module on basket weaving in the Congo Rainforest I might do it - for the fun of it. Education can be entertainment.

Contemporary%2520Theories%2520of%2520Learning%2520SNIP.JPG

Fig 2. Contemporary Theories of learning

2. There are 'Multiple approaches to understanding'

Howard Gardner (1999) - reading this in 'Contemporary Theories of Education'. Join me on Twitter @JJ27VV as I share. I have highlighted 60% of the content, there are several bookmarks too and it is only a few pages long. Some key thoughts:

Students do not arrive as blank slates:

  • Biological and cultural backgrounds
  • Personal histories.
  • Idiosyncratic histories
  • Nor can they be 'aligned unidimensionally along a single line of intellectual development'.

So I wonder if there is a reason why at school children are taught in year group cohorts – it matches with a developmental stage.

It may not cater for cognitive ability or drive. A mix of learning abilities and backgrounds affects the learning experience and quality though, it always struck me that, for example a young musician studying in a driven, step by step fashion, largely on a 1 to 1 basis, can progress fast. Far greater tailoring of a range of lessons, combined with the cohort, paced to challenge the style as the Khan Academy does, has to be an improvement.

Seb%2520Coe%2520SPEECH.JPG

Fig.3. Sebastian Coe's parting words at the London 2012 Paralympic Games

3. There are multiple reasons why the Paralympics and Olympics are mot merged – there are benefits of such segregation for learning too – not exclusively, but to focus and scale up expertise and support for specific types of impairment.

The needs of the plethora of disability groups are better catered for separately. Or are they?

When the Games end they must re–integrate with a world where access is far less certain, accommodating or even a shared experience. Is this relevant to access to e–learning? One size does not fit all – creating content that is clear and easier to read, or follow is a reasonable adjustment – however, is it not the case that once along a certain spectrum of impairment, say legally blind rather than sight impaired, or deaf, rather than hearing impaired, or an arm amputee rather than having some mobility impairment that both in sport and in learning – though not all of the time or exclusively – that these people should learn together, as occurs for example through the RNIB or the RAD.

Whilst clearly provision of an audio version of a book, or video with captions and a transcript should be common practice, when it comes to some approaches to e–learning, say gamification, and certainly any social, or synchronous forms of learning then, like the Paralympics, they would benefit from coming together – indeed, if distance and travel is a barrier, and getting a number of sight impaired students together to study, for example, English Literature, was the desire then distance learning as e–learning may be beneficial.

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Fig.4. Our guinea-pigs - reversioning nature's way!

4. Might the approach to responsive e–learning where using HTML5 allows the same content to be used on multiple devices be applied to creating version for devices that are pre–programmed or the hardware is different, to suit a variety of disabled people?

As we live in a multi-device world we increasingly want the same content reversioned for each device - personally I expect to move seamlessly between iPad (my primary device), iPhone and Laptop (secondary devices) and a desktop. I don't expect a Kindle to do more than it does.  I wonder if a piece of hardware suited to the sight impaired might do a better job of tackling such versions? Ditto for the hearing impaired, as well as for people with physical impairments who require different ways to navigate or respond to content.

New%2520QWERTY%2520talking%2520with%2520fingers%2520%2520Google%2520Images%2520SNIP.JPG

Fig.5. New keyboard App

Or Apps that do the same job?

And the module that has set me thinking about the above:

H810 Accessible online learning: supporting disabled learning

With a final thought - we are all equally able and disabled in some way. We share our humanity ... and too short lives.

REFERENCES

Gardner, H (1999) Multiple Approaches to Understanding. Second part of a chapter first published by C.M Reigleuth (ed) Instructional Design Theories and Models: A new paradigm of instructional theory, volume 2. 69–89pp.

Hardy, J. (2012) The News Quiz, BBC Radio 4, Sat 23rd September. Episode 78, Series 3.

Marcotte, E (2010) Responsive Web Design (Last access 23:45 21 September 2012) http://www.alistapart.com/articles/responsive-web-design/

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H810: Activity 5.3 National Policies on provision for people with disabilities

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 19 Oct 2014, 07:50

I work for a global e–learning company Lumesse which has 73 offices spread around some 40 countries. It would be interesting for me to see what accessibility polcies exist (I'll search online) probably a nod in each case to national or regional policy and legislation.

Of greater interest and relevance and running in close parallel to education at all levels: primary, secondary and tertiary and beyond – is the policy for sports in the UK and for swimming in particular. (I'm familiar with Swimming Governing bodies in the US, France and Australia so could check these too).

As the 'Swim21 co–ordinator' for one of the largest swimming clubs in Southern England I compile a report with supporting evidence every four years to achieve various Amateur Swimming Assocation (ASA) national accreditiations. This includes provision for disabled swimmers. The award is used as a management tool – the club is a limited company with over 1000 members, some 26 paid staff and 60+ volunteers.

Swim21 – which stands for 'Swimming for the 21st century', goes beyond national legislation regarding disability, equality and inclusion – so much so that it impinges on the Data Protection act – those party to the information we make available have a current CRB check and have signed various documents agreeing to abide by certain disclosure rules, an ethics policy and an equity in sport code of practice.

Educational institutions would benefit from taking a look at this – I can see that it would, if permitted, cover far more than they do or are prepared to do in Tertiary Education. Would they carry the cost, even the potential risk?

The Swim21 report is divided into three parts: Compliance, Athlete Development and Workforce Development.

In each of these there are criteria the club must reach regarding disabled swimmers. I believe that most institutions – universities and businesses, tick boxes for compliance but fail to address the development of and support of their people – including disabled staff. There are notable corporate exceptions, but I can't think of a university other than The OU that champions learning for disabled students ... or provides so well for disabled staff (I worked on The OU campus for a year).

What I find interesting in relation to H810 and ASA policy is the close interplay between various apparently innocuous or tangential criteria that make what the club does such a success – in fact our club is a regional centre of excellence or 'Beacon Club' for disabled swimmers. It is this weave that integrates what we do that makes provision, and therefore access for disabled swimmers possible.

Crucial to this is a good working relationship with the pool operator, local schools for disabled students and a couple of champions who hold on tenaciously to what we can provide.

The relationship with the pool operator, meetings, adherence to their emergency and health and safety policies, provision of appropriate facilities and so on is a starting point. Tangential, but crucial to have in place. There has to be physical access for disabled athletes to changing rooms, toilets and the pool(s) with trained, sympathetic staff on hand.

The fundamental ingredient is what we call 'water time' – access to the pool or pools at times that suit the swimmers, rather than being marginalized to an evening slot on a Saturday or Sunday which is the policy in many pool operators when it comes to disabled swimmers. In relation to H810 then access to 'air time' is key, access to include the right, motivated, experienced and educated tutors, with appropriate resources – with access ring–fenced, protected and treasured.

Our disabled swimmers, themselves divided into two ability groups, have slots on a Saturday morning and a late afternoon/early evening on Wednesday. We integrate certain disabled swimmers into mainstream learn to swim and teenage swim groups and when they come along or develop would include them in squad sessions too. Here too Tertiary Education needs to understand the need not only for total, or part time integration, but also the provision for full or part time specialist, niche provision. This is provided by and should be informed by national organisations for sight, hearing, physical and learning impairments.

Provision for disabled swimmers is ASA Swim21 policy and includes: self–assessment on the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), attendance by coaches on an ASA approved Disability Awareness Course and partnership with local disability organisations.

Supporting this, coach/athlete ratios are moderated to match the needs of the swimmer with 1:1 for some disabled swimmers, even 1:2 or 1:3 at times. We have to declare these ratios and demonstrate that they meet criteria by swimming level, age group and disability. There is a club Child Protection Policy and Equity Policy, and coaches agree to abide by a Code of Ethics – these embrace all swimmers.

In relation to H810, and where Tertiary Education might learn something – we maintain a record of club personnel which includes CRB and current relevant qualifications, as well as safeguarding and protecting children training. Most significantly with membership we capture medical conditions of all participants, disability information and emergency contact information. Teachers and coaches, on a need to know basis, have this information too (though it is wrapped in a data protection statement).

We attend ASA approved workshops on Swimming for Disabled Athletes.

All members, which includes parents and other volunteers, agree to a code of conduct. Anyone working with or likely to work with children have a current CRB check whilst every three years the club puts on a Child Protection Workshop which includes working with vulnerable and disabled swimmers. This is now supplemented by several ASA e–learning modules that include niche topics on coaching swimmers with visual impairment, physical disabilities, learning difficulties and/or behavioural issues.

The note on a swimmer is vital to a teacher or coach

Just a line or two and we can seek further advice and of course speak to the swimmer themselves leading to conversations on what they want to do and where they have problems to overcome. We improvise, compromise and accommodate. The context poolside is of course very different to e–learning if we think of e–learning as distance or independent learning, however, if we think of it as social learning online and do more supported synchronous and quasi–synchronous learning, then there are close parallels. The mistake is to think of e–learning purely in terms of ways to get 1,000 people a year through the same induction process or 2,000 through the same postgraduate module – wherein lies the importance of access to and the engagement of the tutor, and other people in support. People create access, improvise, accommodate difference, find ways around barriers ... and come to understand one person to another, what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Reflecting on this, there is another vital component 

We very often know the disabled swimmer from age 9 or 10 into their late teens – volunteers who work in specialist schools may well have known the swimmer for even longer. Some stay on to swim as adults. Given that there are so many kinds of disability and such a spectrum for each, this knowledge is vital. For example, it helps to know that a swimmer who is barely able to walk can, with assistance, balance on a starting block long enough to start a race. I'm starting to wonder where the equivalents exist in higher education and for e–learning in particular - perhaps this same swimmer using a specialist keyboard to be as active on social networks online as anyone else, not quite an avatar, but as 'free in the airwaves' online as they are in the swimming pool.

 

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H810 - Disability and access

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 19 Sep 2012, 21:29

BBC%2520Accessibility%2520Graphic.JPG

BBC WEB ACCESS

As I am studying H810: Accessibility for disabled students I have naturally become tuned into my environment in a more sensitive way - there is a good deal on the Radio (especially coming through the Paralympics).

I am engaged with disabled swimmers at various times during the week, both those who are able to train in the mainstream groups (physical disability, cerebral palsy, MS - some 'lesser' learning impairment) and swimmers who come along to specialist sessions, split between two major and minor categories, though it is immiediately apparent, were you to use say the Disability Categories used in the Olympics that the individual differences are often so great that one would ideally have as many sessions as there are swimmers - we try to have as many coaches and helpers poolside as can be found. Ratios are adjusted according to needs from at most 6:1 but often 2:1 or 1:1. There are always people, guardians, parents and helpers to increase the ratio to 1:2 or 1:3.

The facilities meet accessibility criteria in relation to changing facilities, toilets, hoists and so on. However, I wonder if the pool operator, or the staff on duty, realise how insensitive in how they responded to someone using the disabled lavatory (which has access poolside) when they pulled the emergency cord. A light flashed poolside visible to all swimmers and anyone on the balcony - and then an announcement went out on the tannoy to the entire leisure complex.

'Assistance required at the disabled toilet. Someone is stuck in'.

Do anyone of us want a dozen or more heads to turn as we are then 'rescued'.

I bring this up as an indication of the sensitivity required, for anyone. What I have learned so far and know from experience is that people with a disability want access to be in place and obvious so that they can join the mainstream without fuss or favour. The last thing they want is to have a spotlight put on them.

The second issue is with labels and categorises, how with sport and education, depending on the disability, a person is 'lumped in with all the other disabled swimmers'.

To create access takes time, consideration and the right people - with some training and experience. As a coach I find it is the disabled swimmer who arrives in good time and will listen to 'notes' after the swim. It should be considered normal that disabled swimmers take part in 'mainstream' training sessions.

THE ROLE PARENTS PLAY

The parents, for the most part (siblings too, both brother and sisters) form the larger part of qualified swimming teachers or helpers working with disabled swimmers - all CRB checked, members of the club, often Level 1 or Level 2 assistant or full swimming teachers who have attended an ASA workshop 'Swimming for disabled athletes'. I know too from family experience the extraordinary lengths a parent will go to in order to press for what they know is right - ensuring a child with aspergers did NOT get put into mainstream school.

A final observation here, because behaviours in public have to be taught, rather than 'picked up' I find the swimmers with learning difficulties extraordinarily polite - with introductions, introducing other swimmers, making conversation and thanking me after the swim. It's as if in 'mainstream' teachers have given up on such things as teaching good manners.

Working with swimmers with educational difficulties

Short Description

An introduction and overview of commonly seen barriers to learning when teaching children.  This presentation explains the conditions, syndromes and disorders and gives strategies for managing the behaviour in a swimming teaching environment. To help non-specialist swimming teachers work with a class containing one or two  children with special needs.  It is intended to assist teachers to recognise some  conditions they may encounter and offers some coping strategies which may enable  the teacher to meet the needs of all the children in the class.

Intergrating disabled swimmers into a mainstream coaching environment

Short Description

To give  coaches a better understanding of coaching disabled swimmers, whose disabilities fir disability swimming and highlight ways that coaching practices can be adapted to ensure that disabled swimmers get the best from training in mainstream clubs.

Integrating Swimmers with a Physical & Sensory Impairment into Mainstream Swimming Lessons

Short Description

To give L1 and L2 teachers an understanding of integrating disabled  swimmers into mainstream swimming lessons and highlight ways that  teaching practices can be adapted to ensure that disabled swimmers get  the best from the learn to swim or school swimming environment.

We all benefit from 1 to 1 coaching -is this what we get from a parent or grandparent?

Who taught you to read, to swim, to ride a bike or cut a branch off a tree? To make an omlette or a cake.

Learning a musical instrument gets the ratios down, so does private tuition. At times I wonder if e-learning instead of aspiring to mimic this one to one relationship is nothing better than an interactive leaflet. Somehow the learner needs to be profiled before they start and the learning tailored, with student analytics an outcome. The e-learning needs to be smart and integrated.

 

 

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H810: Disability - a definition

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 19 Sep 2012, 05:12
A person is a disabled person (someone who has the protected characteristic of disability) if they have a physical and/ or mental impairment which has what the law calls 'a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities'. Either UK DDA 1995 or SENDA 2001
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H810 : Learning, Accessibility and Memory

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 19 Oct 2014, 11:34

 

Ebbinghaus 'Forgetting Curve'

What does this say in relation to disabled students? What chances do we give them to record, then repeat or store components of their learning experience?

 

 

Where learning takes place at the most basic level. In relatoin to accessibility anything that hinders access to and accommodation of this process is a potential barrier or impact to learning.

 

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H810 WK2 Activity 4.2 Accessibility - The perspective from the institution

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 13:36

Challenges and opportunities for disabled students:

  • Large, old heavy doors

Sixth Form College a spring-board into university life

  • Provision of laptops and software
  • Better in North America with more discussion instead of note taking in lectures

Tailoring needs

  • Losing paperwork (the institution, not the student with the specifics of their declared disability) - too often occurs
  • A long-winded process

Crowded Power Point slides - often cited as a problem - all students would benefit from simplified and more considered use of 'death by Power Point'.

Speed of delivery by lecturers - accents, always too fast - cited as a problem several times

Libraries and books on shelves - a thing of the past? (personally I used to enjoy using a library as a plsce to research and twke notes - like going to church to pray - it puts you in the required frame of mind.

Provision of pre-lecture notes

  • Talking facing the board - students should leave feedback motes in order to get lectures to change their ways. Why is their no formal teaching qualification at Tertiary Level?
  • Huge reading list - lazy pedagogy?

Noise and seating arrangements

  • Finding out about services by accident
  • Providing details on enrolement that are lost or forgotten
  • Need for own, not shared room/accommodation.
  • Defining boundaries NOT making them looser.

Lecture sheets that aren't precise - sloppiness

 

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H810 Activity 4.1 - Challenges disabled students in post-compulsory education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 09:05

H810 Activity 4.1

Define problems by:

Campus–based issues:

Complusory Education (College, old and new univerisities, postgraduate and even training)

Context – nature of campus, policy, history if and funding of accessibility, maturity and life-expeirence of the student (born with the impairment or not, residential experience or not). Gender, age, socio-economic group and sexual orientation. Before or after the London 2012 Paralympics and the call by Sebastian Coe to 'lift the cloud on limitations'.

Access related to mobility: parking, maps, ramps, signage, estates response to lifts that may not be working, policy and funding in relation to accessibility legislation. Geographical location of the campus – in town, or out of town, residential or collegiate, degree of provision of accommodation and other services.

Provision in lecture halls or tutorials of support for mobility, sight or hearing impaired and getting this balance right so that you promote/advertise services, but don't end up, in a wheelchair user's terms with the 'cripple corner' where wheelchair users are literaly pushed.

Course choices, flexibiliy if online provison as alternatives to some activities, registration procedures and how these are handled, such as per–start induction for disabled students and a buddy system.

Desk space and layout in rooms and libraries.

Access to social spacecs, not just dining areas, but JCR, library, bar, lavatories, postroom, laundry services, theatres etc.

Online learning issues:

Quality of thinking behind the e–learning and how often updated and ameliorated to ease and improve access for everyone.

Training as well as provision of assistive technologies.

Tick the boxes at the design and build stage for: cognitive, visual, hearing and mobility issues. i.e. keep it simple and apply web usability criteria relating to fonts, sizes, choices, colours, contrasts and layout i.e. good design is clearer for everyone.

Issues by subject/context:

The choice is with the student if they have the grades to join the course, but do you question someone with a sight impairment signing up to an art history course, someone with a hearing impairment studying music or potentially someone with mobility impairment signing up to a module in physical education, geology, civil engineering or mining – for example. On the other hand, though this is based purely on personal experience, I feel sure that an above average percentage of people with dyslexia are artisits or actors, or coach/teach sport i.e. they shy away from highly text based academic courses and careers. Part of higher education is a chance for a person to discover where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

Common to all:

Extra time to complete tasks, even flexibility in the term or year for longer treatment breaks.

Personality, life–experience and participation in social life, how post compulsory education in various forms can be a 'big step in forming an independent personal and social identity'.

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H810: The politics of opportunity

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 06:07

In week one we H810ers have been trying to get our collective heads around the meanings of 'accessibility' and 'disability' - courtesy of the Paralympics and the US Presidential Elections there is a wealth of contemporary opinion.

I don't follow the US Presidential Election at all, but sometimes you catch something. This I believe gives us a political model for 'accessibility' and any interpretation and response to disability.

"When we vote in this election, we'll be deciding what kind of country we want to live in. If you want a winner-take-all 'you're-on-your-own-society' you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility - a 'we're-in-it-together' society - you should vote for Barrack Obama and Joe Biden'.

And what The OU means:

 

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H810: Accessibility as a subject for stand-up comic Francesca Martinez

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 06:55

Check out this video on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUIYuJ62Qbs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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