The final, final, final, final assignment of my Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) ... or just the beginning?
Deep breath, bath and shave. Then ponder 'what next?'
The final, final, final, final assignment of my Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) ... or just the beginning?
Deep breath, bath and shave. Then ponder 'what next?'
Courtesy of browsing through my own and two other tutor groups, and looking at the lists produced by a couple of student friends who did H810 in 2010 and 2011 I've developed this 'long list' of 13 issues. I wanted to eliminate concepts and models, which were distracting me. I struggled repeatedly to get these in any order until I did two things:
1) put the issues into my context, knowing the set up and people, what could or would result in something happening for the better in relation to delivering any learning, let alone accessible e-learning for those for whom there are barriers from a variety of known impairments or disabilities
2) create a table of all 13 issues and compare one to the other as less or more important IN MY CONTEXT.
My chosen context is the coaching and teaching of swimming in the UK - with e-learning available for teachers, coaches, club officials, parents and athletes.
I particularly want to thank Simon Carrie who has my point 3 as his first issue - I hadn't given it a moment's thought but in my context, and no doubt in the context of most of us, it cearly is very important - people and tools cost time and money.
(The ones I am likely to pick for the EMA are highlighted - skewed by the needs and practices of my chosen context)
1 Objecti(ive) - The importance of and scoping of the objective as means to an outcome
2 Subject - Significance or role of the subject (student/lecturer) User Centred Design. Involve users in the design.
3 Incentives - Incentives to invest
4 Universal Design - Universal Design/Equity
5= Novice 2 Expert - The role of the novice to learn, participate and develop expertise.
5= Framework for change - A framework for change - An Activity Systems as a model for analysis and action
7 Tools - Role of tools - assistive, web pages, equipment and 'design for all'.
8 Contradictions - Contradictions , conflicts of problems with the actions between components of a recognised activity system
9= Rules - The role of rules (legalese and guidelines) - informal and formal
9= History - What the history of such efforts says about what should be done next and what can be achieved in the future.
11= Division of labour - Division of labour - who is responsible, who is the broker?
11= Community - The community as a ‘community of practices’ or a constellation of connections that engage and participate.
13 Game-like - Game-like play between institutions
What are your thoughts? In your context? How would you prioritise or word these issues? Are there more still (probably).
The two other contexts that interest me are from the point of view of an e-learning agency and from a client point of view.
For the latter - Object(ive) as everyone works to the brief once this is written with clear objectives, universal design for those for whom design as an expressions of creativity and problem solving is important. Tools as agencies are expected to come up with a 'clever' technical response. Framework for change - as in a consultancy capacity the agency will be expected to offer some actionable plan.
For the former - Incentives (as performance Improvement), Rules (legal and mission compliance) and division of labour (who does what) are likely to be significant.
I'm still thinking this through so share it here - actually I'm finding support from fellow MAODErs who did H810 in 2010 and 2011 as our tutor group is so exceptionally quiet .
I've also been following other tutor groups and can't wonder why some of these groups weren't merged some time ago for the benefit of all - putting us in silos isn't working, which shows the lack of flexibility in this 'system'. One caveat, I know from past experience that there will always be some who care to be more active online than others - I recall being part of one tutor group where some six of the 12 were highly engaged online on other platforms anyway so that anything any of us posted was immediately picked up by the others.
Just a note here on the learning process and the online learning experience
Having the opportunity to share thoughts, get it wrong, be corrected, think through the complexities and come to your own conclusions is surely a vital part of learning online? Indeed, using tools such as this, the blog ... and the wiki are what differentiates online learning in 2012/2013 compared to distance learning of a decade ago or more when you got a box of books and DVDs through the post with some instructions on what to read and when to hand in an essay. (Decades ago I've had a file insert sent in the post each month, or an audio cassette - self-directed learning requiring a huge amount of will power).
So, for anyone who wishes to consider why some issue are more important than others, and to clarify the difference between an issue, a model or a concept, here are my thoughts on what to take from Chapters 11,12 and 13.
Having cut out the duplications and overlaps and categorised the 'issues' I can only find ten. I would have thought one way or another THREE can be selected for the EMA from these. The next step is to rank them. I've loaded these into a table and cross-referenced each. I could write 500 words on each - the problems is to write 1800 or so on each of three.
From Chapter 11
1 Game-like play between institutions
3 The role of rules (legalese and guidelines) - informal and formal
From Chapter 12
4 Role of tools
5 Significance or role of the subject (student/lecturer)
6 The importance of and scoping of the objective as means to an outcome.
X Rules (see above)
X Community (see below)
7 Contradictions , conflicts of problems with the actions requires between components of a recognised activity system
8 The role of the novice to learn, participate and develop expertise.
9 What the history of such efforts says about what should be done next and what can be achieved in the future.
From Chapter 13
10 The community as a ‘community of practices’ or a constellation of connections that engage and participate.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fig.1 Groundhog Day staring Bill Murray
At what point does the protagonist in the film 'Groundhog Day' - TV weatherman Phil Connors played by Bill Murray - unite the Punxsutawney community? How does he do it? And what does this tell you about communities of practice? (Wenger 1998)
Fig. 2. Chick Peas - a metaphor for the potential congealing effect of 'reificaiton'
Issues related to creating accessible e-learning
Pour some dry chickpeas into a tall container such as a measuring jug add water and leave to soak overnight. The result is that the chickpeas swell so tightly together that they are immovable unless you prize them out with a knife - sometimes the communities of practice are embedded and immovable and the only answer could be a bulldozer - literally to tear down the buildings and start again.
'Congealing experiences into thingness'. Seale (2006:179) or derived from Wenger (1998)
This is what happens when 'reification causes inertia' Wenger in Seale (2006:189).
'Reification' is the treatment of something abstract as a material or concrete thing. Britannica, 2012.
To ‘reify’ it to thingify’. Chandler (2000) , ‘it’s a linguistic categorization, its the conceptualization of spheres of influence, such as ‘social’,’educational’ or ‘technological’.’ (ibid)
'Reification creates points of focus around which the negotiation of meaning becomes organized'. Seale (2006)
It has taken over a century for a car to be tested that can take a blind person from a to b - the huge data processing requirements used to scan the road ahead could surely be harnessed to 'scan the road ahead' to make learning materials that have already been digitised more accessible.
Participating and reification - by doing you give abstract concepts form.
1) Institutional and individual factors need to be considered simultaneously.
2) Inclusivity (and equity), rather than disability and impairments, should be the perspective i.e. the fix is with society rather than the individual.
3) Evidence based.
4) Multifaceted approach.
5) Cultural and systemic change at both policy and practice levels.
6) Social mobility and lifelong learning were ambitions of Peter Mandelson (2009).
7) Nothing should be put or left in isolation - workshops with children from the British Dyslexia Association included self-esteem, literacy, numeracy, study skills and best use of technology.
8) Encouraging diversity, equity of access and student access.
9) Methods should be adapted to suit the circumstances under which they are being applied.
10) Technical and non-technical people need to work together to tackle the problems.
11) A shared repertoire of community practices ...
12) Design for participation not use .... so you let the late arrivals to the party in even if they don't drink or smoke (how would you integrated mermaids?)
13) Brokering by those who have multiple memberships of groups - though the greater the number of groups to which they belong the more likely this is all to be tangential.
14) Might I read constellation and even think collegiate?
15) If we think of a solar system rather than a constellation what if most are lifeless and inaccessible?
16) Brokers with legitimacy may cross the boundaries between communities of practice. Wenger (1998)
17) Boundary practices Seale (2003)
Fig. 3. John Niell, CBE, CEO and Group Chairman of UGC
Increasingly I find that corporate and institutional examples of where a huge change has occured are the product of the extraordinary vision and leadership of one person, who advocates putting the individual at the centre of things. Paying lip service to this isn't enough, John Neil CBE, CEO and now Chairman of the Unipart Group of Companies (UGC) called it 'The Unipart Way'.
Britannica (2012) Definition of reification. (Last accessed 22 Dec 2012 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/496484/reification)
Chandler, D (2000) Definition of Reify. (Last accessed 22 Dec 2012 http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/tecdet/tdet05.html)
Seale, J. (2006) E-Learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice, Abingdon, Routledge; also available online at http://learn2.open.ac.uk/ mod/ subpage/ view.php?id=153062 (last accessed 23 Dec 2012).
Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Learning and identity
The concepts of learning and identity are closely interwoven and seen as a social process of making meaning, primly inspired by the situated learning. (Wenger 1998)
Identity is not only about our self image or other people’s image of ourselves, it is our way of living our everyday life, it is the layers of experiences and interpretations that we have made by participating in social practices (Wenger 1998) the nature of participation, power, enterprise, mutual engagement and sociality, shared repertoire, and identity
‘Legitimate peripheral participation is not itself an educational form, much less a pedagogical strategy or a teaching technique. It is an analytical viewpoint on learning, a way of understanding learning. We hope to make clear as we proceed that learning through legitimate peripheral participation takes place no matter which educational form provides a context for learning, or whether there is any intentional educational form at all'. (Lave and Wenger 1991, page 40).
Communities of Practice was developed by considering a wide range of apprenticeship learning situations, from traditional tailors through to participation in communities such as alcoholics anonymous.
Learning is thus characterised as a process of changing participation, from initial peripheral participation of the apprentice or, more generally, newcomer to the practices to the fuller participation available to a 'master' or old timer in the practices.
Wenger (1998) identifies three essential features:
Engaging in practice over a period of time develops a shared repertoire of practices,
understandings, routines, actions, and artefacts (Wenger 1998).
Participation in communities of practice is not only about learning to do, but as a part of doing, it is about learning to be (Lave and Wenger 1991)
Firstly, it shifts the focus from teaching to learning and the practices the learner engages in (Adler 1998).
Secondly, it recharacterises the role of the teacher as not primarily being a holder of knowledge but an expert in the practices of a subject based community. The teacher exemplifies for the learner how to legitimately participate in these practices.
Thirdly, as a situated theory of learning it helps to explains the issue of a lack of ‘transfer’ of knowledge from school to non-school contexts (see Evans 2000; Lave 1988; Lerman 1999, for a discussion of this issue).
Fourthly, it recognises the intimate connection between the ‘subject’ practices and the pedagogical practices and therefore helps us to understand why different pedagogies not only influence the amount that is learned but also what is learned. The acquisition (Lave 1988) or representational model (Seely Brown and Duguid 1989) of learning in school contexts distinguishes between what the students are to learn or to ‘acquire’, and the means by which this learning occurs. A division is made between subject and pedagogy.
Fifthly, it highlights the extent to which educators are not imparting knowledge nor even only helping their students to engage in particular social practices but rather to become particular types of human beings. Thus it opens avenues of inquiry to understand learners' patterns of identification and non-identification with schools mathematics (see for example, Boaler 2000)
The community of practice model, based on the metaphor or actuality of apprenticeship learning identifies three basic positions that participants take up.
These can be referred to in the following way:
However, it is clear that the basic positions in a classroom are not like this, there is generally a single teacher and a relatively large number of pupils. Moreover, the trajectory of participation of the student is not to become a teacher (Adler 1998; Lemke 1997; Lerman 1998).
One way of reconceptualising or extending Communities of Practice is to consider learning as taking place in 'ecologies of practices' (Boylan 2004)
Adler, J. (1998) "Lights and limits: Recontextualising Lave and Wenger to theorise knowledge ofteaching and of learning school mathematics." In Situated Cognition and the Learning of Mathematics, ed. Anne Watson, 161-177. Oxford: Centre for Mathematics Education, University of Oxford Department of Educational Studies.
Boaler, J. (2000) "Mathematics from another world: Traditional communities and the alienation of learners." Journal of Mathematical Behaviour 18, no. 3: 379-397.
Boylan, M (2004) Questioning (in) school mathematics: Lifeworlds and ecologies of practice PhD Thesis. Sheffield Hallam University
Herting, K (2006) Balancing on a thin line - Thoughts from a study of Swedish voluntary leaders in children’s football. AARE’s 36th Annual International Education Research Conference Adelaide Australia November 27 -30 2006
Lave, J, and Wenger.E (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lemke, J. (1997) "Cognition, context, and learning: A social semiotic perspective." In Situated Cognition: Social, Semiotic, and Psychological Perspectives, ed. David Kirshner and JamesWhitson, 37-56. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Lerman, S. (1998) "Learning as social practice: An appreciative critique." In Situated
Cognition and the Learning of Mathematics, ed. Anne Watson, 33-42. Oxford: Centre for
Mathematics Education, University of Oxford Department of Educational Studies.
Seely Brown, J, and P. Duguid. (1991) Organisational learning and communities of practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning and innovation. Accessed November 2000. Available from http://www.parc.xerox.com/ops/members/brown/papers/orglearning.htm.
Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Examples of internal artefacts might include a policy, an inaccessible resource that a student has complained about or a new module outline that you are developing.
Examples of external artefacts might include an article you have read, a proprietary authoring tool or guidelines on a website.
(AGENCY = a 50 or less web agency that specialises in the creation of e-learning. Some the 'Kall-Kwik' for e-learning, what would have been leaflets, posters, linear video or afternoon workshops turned into e-learning on a tight budget and schedule - slick production in a team of six+ specialists - previously linear video for facilitated workshops, or video with a workbook, then interactive on disc, before moving to intranets and online.)
(CLIENT = a national or multinational of 10,000+ employees hungry for training, both compliance and management training. Keen to exploit e-learning tools and eagerly trying to use social learning too. I have worked for very many and inside a few.)
Professionally I have worked 20 years in the latter and 2 years in the former.
(SWIMMING = from the perspective of a 1000+ club that is five clubs in one offering: teaching and competitive swimming, mastes, waterpolo and disability swimming. As a coach and club officer I have been involved in teaching, coaching, swimming, implementing change and undertaking every four years a mamoth audit called 'Swim21' that leads to the creation of an Improvement Plan. Equity, Disability and Child Protection, Data Protection and Personal Development are key relevant issues)
AGENCY - Style Guide, ISO 9000?, Web Usability, Training, Experience, Exposure …
CLIENT - Style Guide, Mission, Vision, Corporate Responsibility …
SWIMMING - Improvement Plan for Swim21, Disability Officer Role Description, National Disability Classification for competitive swimmers, CPD as workshops and online. Two groups of for disabled swimmers. Regional hub. +ve/-ve outcomes of the Paralympics.
Are there any artefacts that you think you and your colleagues have over-relied on or misused to the point that they are now negatively influencing your practice? If so, why do you think this is?
AGENCY - JAWS Screenreader, the browser will sought it out … a PDF once we’ve finished.
CLIENT - policy and a person, Style Guide
SWIMMING - Swim21, the experience of those working with disabled people.
Is there any evidence for mutual engagement, joint enterprise or shared repertoire in the community (or communities) you belong to?
AGENCY - none
CLIENT - token, until you see Take3 video
SWIMMING - with local special needs schools, severe disabilities, dyslexia and in mainstream.
What has influenced whether or not the people in your community are all working in pursuit of the same accessibility enterprise or objective?
AGENCY - None
CLIENT - HR by organisation
SWIMMING - forcing hand to get one or one or two into an equity course, more onto disability and as a requirement onto child protection which is relevant.
Seale discusses the development of accessibility within an organisation as the creation of a constellation of practice rather than a community of practice. How helpful do you think this approach is?
AGENCY - piecemeal, turn it on like a switch, distraction for the most junior.
CLIENT - probably
SWIMMING - Yes, with the ASA the sun, outlying planets and their satellites.
Yes, as the efforts of one trying to be everyone and be everywhere doesn’t work, not will a constellation of people in silos.
Do you think that the model shown in Figure 13.1 on page 182 would be useful as a trigger for discussion within your organisation?
The McKinsey model also highlights the fact that, in creating whole organisational change, attention must be paid to different elements of the organisation. This supports our findings about the need to take a multi-pronged approach, be systematic and holistic, take an embedded approach, and target multiple institutional functions. May and Bridger (2010:96) The Seale (2006) puts people into silos.
I find the constellation of communities works as a metaphor that might be a children’s round-about or the petals of a flower. It gets everything into one place, but it doesn’t suggest how they interact. The MsKinsey 7S model on the other hand, developed by a global management consultancy and regularly applied to organizational and team problems, is a tool that can be understood and applied in your context to help identify and solve complex problems.
See The McKinsey 7S Framework, Mind Tools (1995–2009) http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_91.htm
Would it enable you and your colleagues to identify what changes or developments are needed and why they are needed?
AGENCY - yes, if a crisis occurs or there is a budget to stand back and take a look at what is going on.
CLIENT - bottom line and society …
SWIMMING - audit, action team, top to bottom, holistic, time … introduce, understand, apply.
Would the labels on the figure be different for your organisation? If so, how and why?
Yes, because none of my contexts are in Higher Education. I look at the diagram, then at a room full of people. Many people will be in several ‘communities’ so the model quickly breaks down.
May, H. and Bridger, K. (2010) Developing and Embedding Inclusive Policy and Practice in Higher Education, York, The Higher Education Academy; also available online at http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ assets/ York/ documents/ ourwork/ inclusion/ DevelopingEmbeddingInclusivePolicyPractice_ReportFinal.pdf (last accessed 28 August 2012).
Seale, J. (2006) E-Learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice, Abingdon, Routledge; also available online at http://learn2.open.ac.uk/ mod/ subpage/ view.php?id=153062 (last accessed 28 August 2012).
Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
1) Engagement with all
Bringing about effective change in inclusive policy and practice is less to do with the
specific method or approach employed and more to do with ensuring that a range of
stakeholder groups is sought and an appropriate range of methods or approaches are
used that are fit for purpose by being both relevant to the context and to the particular
groups they seek to engage. May and Bridger (2010:99) Having a diverse team, with different roles, views and experiences, can contribute to an initiative’s success. (ibid)
Fig. 1 A constellation of accessible e-learning practices.
2) No single method as a panacea
A variety of methods are needed to facilitate inclusive policy and practice. No one
method is sufficient, particularly given the nature and scale of change required to bring
about inclusive policy and practice. May and Bridger (2010:98)
Fig.2. McKinsey 7S model from the May and Bridger (2010:96)
3) Institutional and individual factors
A key finding of this study has been that sustainable and effective inclusive cultural change will only come about through institutions focusing simultaneously on both institutional and individual factors. May and Bridger (2010:05)
Fig.1. Google Docs help center - navigation
I was looking for a way to an an Umlaut to the name 'Engestrom' in Google Docs help but instead stumble upon something far more valuable in relation to access to e-learning for students with disabilities - navigation short cuts. These apply to how a person with sight impairment might move through a text and so, like basic web usability, informs on best practice when it comes to writing, proof reading and lay-out, i.e. editing with a reader with a visual impairment in mind.
Somehow the clear way the guide is laid out caused the penny to drop in a way that hasn't occurred in the last three months however many times I have observed, listened to, read about or tried to step into the shows of a student with a visual impairment.
Web usability recommends a way of laying out text that is logical, clear and suited to the screens we use to access content from the web. This logic of headings and multiple sub-headings, let alone plain English in relation to short sentences as well as use of paragraphs makes reading not only easier for those with no disability, but assists those with varies degrees of visual impairment as content is then better able to respond to standard tools of text enlargement and enhancement, but also of screen readers that work best when reading through text.
What assistive technology does, a control that doesn't require a mouse and keeps a manageable set of keys under the fingers rather than needing to run back and forth across the keyboard, is to reduce the above commands to actions that a visually impaired or blind person can then use to control their web viewing experience.
Fig. 2 From the chapter - annotations, animation and notes
Fig.3 Another way of looking at Activity Systems 1
<Fig.4 Another way of looking at Activity Systems 3
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.
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.
Seale, J. (2006) E-learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice
Mis-Adventures in Alt Format (Stewart, 2007)
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:
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:
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.
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)
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)
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
"The purpose of education is not to make information accessible, but rather to teach learners how to transform accessible information into useable knowledge.Decades of cognitive science research have demonstrated that the capability to transform accessible information into useable knowledge is not a passive process but an active one". CAST (2011)
Constructing useable knowledge, knowledge that is accessible for future decision-making, depends not upon merely perceiving information, but upon active “information processing skills” like selective attending, integrating new information with prior knowledge, strategic categorization, and active memorization.Individuals differ greatly in their skills in information processing and in their access to prior knowledge through which they can assimilate new information. CAST (2011)
Proper design and presentation of information – the responsibility of any curriculum or instructional methodology - can provide the scaffolds necessary to ensure that all learners have access to knowledge. CAST (2011)
I recommend the last link in its entirety above most that I have reviewed. It is a resource, It is succinct. It is practical. It respects the fact that all students come to this kind of learning with a set of experiences and skills - and tactics and tools that work for them. Why make someone play the tuba when they play the harp perfectly well? A metaphor worth developing I wonder in relation learning to play an instrument, read music, pass theory tests, perform solo or in an ensemble, to sight read etc:
Do you recall the paraorchestra performing with Coldplay at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics who represented the widest range and degree of disability? http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/sep/01/orchestra-disabled-people-play-paralympics
CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.
NATIONAL CENTER ON UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING, AT CAST
40 HARVARD MILLS SQUARE, SUITE 3, WAKEFIELD, MA 01880-3233
TEL (781) 245-2212, EMAIL UDLCENTER@UDLCENTER.ORG
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