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H810 - Disability and access

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

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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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Design Museum

Studying e-learning but sometimes the old ways are best!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 26 Jun 2012, 14:59

DSC03517.JPG E-learning can never be replacement learning, rather it is a tool, a support, a method, an approach that enhances distance learning and complements 'learning'. It has its own vibrancy and currency, with a universe of information and even free 'Open' courses at your finger tips ... and is increasingly mobile.

Imagine taking a slate away from a Victorian child and handing them an iPad.

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It would take them no time to figure out what it is about. Increasingly, though my background isn't 'traditional education' I find myself turning to simple skills of involvement and engagement, such as this excuse last month as Lewes and Lewes Old Grammar School celebrate 500 years of teaching with a march through the streets of Lewes and a party in the Paddock (our park).

The Queen had her 60th on the River Thames, we have the 10th of the First World War to think about and an Oxford College has its 750th to mark next year. Keep it simple, dress up, create some banners or the odd float, and march to a band.

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Design Museum

H800 WK21-22 Activity 2d VLE vs. PLE who wins?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:59

H800 WK21-22 Activity 2d VLE vs. PLE who wins?

  • John Petit
  • Martin Weller
  • Niall Sclater

Stephen Downes – Students own education

· How much do they actually differ in their views?

· What is my perspective?

· Freedom is lack of choice

· Parameters work

· Creativity is mistakes

· Have rules, the mischievous or skilled will break them anyway

· The end result counts.

a) This isn’t a debate. Neither takes sides and the chair interjects his own thoughts. A debate, whether at school, university or in a club, or in a court of law or the House of Commons, is purposely adversarial, people take sides, even take a stance on a point of view they may not wholly support, in order to winkle out answers that may stand somewhere between the two combatants.

b) During the MAODE this might be the second such offering as a ‘debate,’ the last being as weak. What is more I have attended a Faculty debate which shilly-shallied around the issues with at times from an audience’s point of view it being hard to know whose side the speakers were on?

c) As well as deploring the lack of rigour regarding what should or should not be defined as a debate, the vacuous nature of the conversations means that you don’t gain one single new piece of evidence either way. Generalities are not arguments, neither side attempts to offer a knock-out blow, indeed Martin Weller seems keen to speak for both sides of the argument throughout.

When Martin Weller implies that a VLE constrains because ‘There are so many fantastic tools out there that are free and robust and easy to use.’ I would like a) example b) research based evidence regarding such tools, which do offer some compelling arguments, these commercial and branded products have to offer something refreshing and valuable.

Unlike some university offering they are therefore not only effective, but vitally, they are fun, tactile, smartly constructed, well-funded, give cache to the user, are easy to share, champion and become evangelical about, explored, exploited and developed further. Here I compare Compendium with the delight of bubbl.us.

Here I compare blogging in the confines of the abandoned cold-frame that is the Victorian OU student blogging platform compared to the Las Vegas experience of WordPress.

I can even compare how WordPress performs externally compared to the shackled version provided by the OU. On the one hand there is a desire to treat students like sheep; there is even a suggestion in this chatty-thing between Niall Sclater and Martin Weller than OU undergraduates ought to offer the most basic environment in which to operate. Access is an important point, but you don’t develop players in an orchestra by shutting everyone in a hall and giving them a kazoo. And if that Kazoo requires instructions then it deserves being ignored. Having lived with it for a year the OU e-portfolio My Stuff might best be described as some kind of organ-grinder with the functionality and fun-factor of Microsoft DOS circa 1991.

Martin Weller makes the point about tools that might be used this before, during and after their university experience. There is a set of ICT tools covering word-processing, databases, number manipulation, calendars and communications that are a vital suite of skills; skills that some might already have, or partially have … or not have at all. The problem is in the accommodation of this widely differing skill set.

JV Exposure to new, or similar, experience of better as well as weaker programmes/tools, fashion, peer group, nature of the subject they are studying, their ambitions, who they are, how much time they have, their kit, connection and inclinations, let alone the context of where they are going online.

In this respect Martin Weller is right to say that ‘some kind of default learning environment’ is required first of all.

Caveat: You are going to need people to use the same kind of things in order to be able to communicate.

· University blog vs. their own bog.

· University e-portfolio vs. their own portfolio.

· Elluminate vs. Skype.

· Mac vs. PC,

· Tablet vs. laptop.

· Desktop vs. smartphone.

· Paper vs. e-Reader.

· University Forum vs. Linked in or others.

· Twitter vs. Yammer.

Swimming analogy: training pool, leisure pool, main pool, diving pool, Jacuzzi.

Niall Sclater makes a point about a student using an external blog that doesn’t have a screen reader. Do browsers not offer this as a default now? Whilst I doubt the quality of translation I’ve been having fun putting everything I normally look at into French or loading content onto an e-reader and having it read to me on long car journeys. The beauty of Web 2.0 and Open Learn is that developers love to solve problems then share their work. Open Learn allows these fixers to crack on at a pace that no institution can match.

Perhaps issues regarding passwords is one such problem which is no longer a problem with management systems. Saving passwords etc.: Other problems we have all see rise and fall might include spam. The next problem will be to filter out spam in the form of ‘Twitter Twaddle’ the overwhelming flack of pre-written RSS grabbed institutional and corporate messages that should without exception be ‘flagged’ by readers as spam until it stops. I never had a conversation with a piece of direct mail shoved at me through my letter box, or spam come to that matter. Here largely the walled, university environment in which to study, is protected from the swelling noise of distraction on the outside,

Niall Sclater talks about the Wiki on OU VLE, in Moodle ‘comprises what we consider is the most useful functionality for students. The OU ‘cut out a lot of the bells and whistles you find in MediaWiki’. New to wikis I enjoyed being eased into their use, but like a keen skier, or swimmer, having found my ‘legs’ I wanted incremental progressions. Being compelled to stay in the training pool, or on the nursery slopes, to return to by Kazoo metaphor, is like having Grade 5 flute, but having to play with six novice recorder players in Kindergarten. We move on and therefore what is offered should move with us.

Universities fail abysmally to sell their products to their captive audiences.

Commercial products are sold, invitingly to everyone who comes within earshot. There is a commercial naivety and intellectual arrogance sometimes over stuff created that must be great, because it is the invention of brilliant minds … and that its brilliance will be self-evident even if it sits their within its highly branded overcoat waiting for some time to take an interest and take it out for a test drive. Creators of these tools forget that a quick search using some of the terms related to the affordances of the product being offered will invariably produce something more appealing from the likes of Google, Adobe, Apple or Microsoft.

Nail Sclater points out that some students can be confused by too much functionality. I agree. If there is a product that has far too much functionality, it is Elluminate. And even for a library search, it ought to be as simple as the real thing … you go to a counter and ask for a title. Google gets it right. Keep it simple. Others are at last following suit. Or is the Google God now omnipresent?

Martin Weller stumbles when he says that Nail ‘hits on two arguments against decentralised PLEs by

a) Giving three arguments

a. Authentication

b. Integration

c. Robustness

b) He is meant to be in favour of PLEs.

i.e. academics are incapable of debate because they are, to use of Martin Weller’s favourite terms ‘contextualised’ to sit on the fence. A debate should be a contest, a bullfight ideally with a clear winner, the other party a convincing looser.

You wouldn’t let a soldier chose his weapons then enter the fray. There has to be a modicum of formal training across a variety of tools, and in a controlled, stepped fashion in order to bring people along, communally, for retention and to engender collaboration and participation and all that benefits that come from that.

Who at a time of change is going to declare their role, or department redundant? Brought into a new role, Social Media Manager, I feel I will have succeed in 12 months if I have handed over the keys to others, spread some of the glory about. That’s how I see it, a little bit of everybody’s lives. You can wordprocess, you can do some aspect of Social Media. There are other functions though that long ago were circumvented by clever software. Web 2.0 deplores the gatekeeper. It wants to put everything ‘out there,’ enabling everyone and anyone to make of it what they need and please.

Personally I’ve been loading content, text and images, in diaryland since Sept 1999 and have never had an issue with access, yet I have repeatedly found my OU e-portfolio failed, or that while composing a response in a forum the system fell-down and I lost what I was doing.

Nial Sclater argues in favour of VLEs to ensure usability, access, extension to students, common ground on terms of tools, opportunity and form an assessment point of view, use of content too.

While Martin Weller wants to ‘Support’ – an argument for VLEs. (I’ve now made the point several times that Martin Weller seemed unsure of which side he was on, and by personality and from experience, will never take a side in any case).

We DO want people going away being able to use package X. Do we turn out Roy Castle types who can play loads of instruments not very well, or a virtuoso performer who can at least play the cello well?

JP stepping in ‘as my confidence grew I got to know that and my confidence grew across the year as I got to know that and one or two other very limited and well-supported tools’

Nial Sclater’s point that the same tool is required for collaboration and assessment. This applies also to reading the materials provided and doing the activities so that these are the points of reference for assessments (as currently practised). How can a Tutor mark an assessment that is based on vegetables from a walled Victorian kitchen garden, when the student offers flowers grown from seed in a tub? To return to my sporting analogy, how might I judge a person’s ability to swim after 12 weeks if they’ve been learning how to sail?

Parameters have a purpose.

The greatest resistance to a writer is having no sense of purpose, no goals, no parameters, no set pieces, no one to be on their case. A free for all, perhaps as the new London Business and Finance School is finding, is that just giving students the lot and telling them to get on with it is not conducive to a viable learning experience. (Nor do I think it’ll deliver someone is able to work with others).

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