Wipes dust off blog. Eek has it really been almost a year 😮 During that time I’ve returned to my blog a few times but I’d well and truly lost my writing mojo.
Yesterday I put a call out on two of the JISC Mail lists (ILT-RSCEM and DIS-Forum) asking which apps people recommended to support students with their studies. The response I received was great and I’ve definatley discovered some interesting tools. I’ve collated the responses into a mind map as I thought it might be a useful resource for other tutors/learning technologists.
Yesterday was a ‘first time day’ as I attend my first accessibility conference. The International Conference on Using New Technologies for Inclusive Learning Conference was held at Glasgow Caladonian University and had been organised as part of ENABLE project.
After the keynote the conference was split into 2 halves with themed sessions running in parallel with each other. This is a little bug bear of mine as it meant that I had to miss out on quite a few of the interesting sounding presentations as I was confined to one room for two hours at a time. I much prefer it when there’s the opportunity to move rooms in between presentations. Despite this it turned out to be a really good day and no that wasn’t because of the beautiful Cath Kidston bag and dress that I purchased on the way home.
During the day the two presentations that stood out to me where delivered by @AbiJames and @FilMcIntyre.
How do we increase accessibility?
Fil presented on the accessibility of tablet devices and it was interesting to here that some providers, such as Acer, often decide to stop supporting a certain type of device which blocks software updates and therefore the user can be stuck with archaic accessibility options. Overall it was agreed that although providers are making an effort to develop accessibility features such as speech to text and contrast settings there still is a long way to go. As someone who suffers from colour sensitivity and prefers to read text against a dark green background I would love to see a colour filter introduced to tablets as it would make reading from the device so much easier.
Fil works for BRITE (Beattie Resources for Inclusiveness in Technology and Education) and there is a small selection of resources over on their company’s website.
Could Azzapt be a magic wand for accessible resources?
After Fil, Abbie demonstrated the document personalisation tool Azzapt. Azzapt is a cloud based solution that reformat documents into yours/your students preferred accessibility format. Simply upload the document to the site and after a few seconds you will be able to access the document in your preferred format – for myself this is on a dark green background, with the text presented in Ariel point 12. As well as changing the print appearance this tool can also be used to turn documents into mp3s.
Azzapt syncs with Dropbox so tutors can create a shared folder for their class, then the students can download the information in their preferred format from Azzapt. This could significantly reduce prep time for tutors compared to reformatting the documents themselves.
Tweetwally’s that is. Tweet Wally is a free Twitter wall that filters tweets via #hastags, usernames or key words.The tool could be used for a variety of in-class activities including as a starter by posing a question at the start of class and asking students to tweet their replies. A photograph or video could be tweeted out then students might be asked to express their thoughts on a certain subject such as the emotions the picture provokes, what period in history the photo represents or what would the student do if they were in the situation represented on the photo? Tweet Wally could also be used at the end of he class to consolidate learning by using it to create a a quiz.
Driven by NIACE, Maths 4 Us promotes maths education to adults. The app index does exactly what the title suggests and provides tutors with a categorised list of mobile applications that can be used both in and outside of the classroom. As an ex basic skills tutor I think this is a fantastic initiative and ALT have done a really good job with the website – they layout is suburb!
Returning to education and learning basic skills can not only transform the individuals life but also their whole families. I saw many a young mother who had enrolled to class so that they could support their child with their homework in order to encourage an interest in education. As a direct result of the confidence she gained from taking an adult GCSE English class my own mother went from working on a supermarket checkout to pitching then successfully running an holistic therapist pilot before becoming the only Holistic Therapist for Derbyshire NHS. Therefor I know first hand how important it is to spread the word about this initiative and it’s also a good opportunity to make maths tutors lives a little bit easier by introducing them to hundreds of resources. Go on, do a good dead by going forth and spread the word about Maths apps index!
Our International Student Advisors have purchased iPads to help them keep up to date with their work and deliver presentations to prospective students whilst working abroad. Having never owned an iPad before these colleagues had requested a session to discuss the different presentation apps that are available. They were also interested in the different ways they can use social media to market their service as well as support students once they had started at the university. Below are links to the apps that I discussed with them:
Google Drive – this can be used for assessing and delivering presentations that are created using Google Docs
Cloud On -‘ brings Microsoft Office to your favourite device’ enabling you to show Microsoft PPT presentations on your iPad.
Prezi – with the app you can run your Prezi presentations through your iPad even if your of-line
DropBox – by uploading your presentations to DropBox you will be able to access then via the app or through the webpage. This is a fantastic back-up option if your likely to leave your presentation materials at home.
Scoop It – the web version can be used to create a visual list of on-line bookmarks. My colleagues were particularly interested in using this to create folders of support materials such as guides to local tourist attractions and things to do in Buxton.
Last week I was speaking to an FE colleague about the different ways that TEL can be used to embed employability skills into textile courses. As part of the discussion we were talking about blogs which got me thinking about the about.me widget in WordPress and the way that it can be used to display links to your on-line accounts without the need for any coding. As I use the widget on this blog I demonstrated my account which contains a graphic portrait of myself, a short biography about my professional interests and links to my Twitter, LinkedIn and technology blog. Although I hadn’t thought about using about.me to embed employability in the curriculum my colleague was really inspired and could see huge potential in using the tool with her students especially as she is going to use WordPress as part of her classes so that students are able to build up an on-line portfolio. Could you use about.me with your own students? Now that I’ve been inspired by my colleague I can see the tool fitting in perfectly with media and art and design classes. As well as using the links to sign post employers to their work students can upload their own background image to their page which could be a photograph they have taken, a graphic picture or an illustration.
This month Dragons Den star Hilary Devey is trying to help young people find work through the VideofyMe app and Twitter. The idea is that job hunters will use the app to create a short video CV which will then be tweeted using the hashtag #employme. Employers will use the hashtag to search Twitter for potential candidates.
I doubt this scheme will take off, it was launched twelve days ago and I haven’t been able to find a single #employme video on Twitter however I do think that video CV’s can be successfully used to support young people with finding work. By uploading the video to YouTube a link could then be added to the students covering letter and text based CV. Students studying practical subjects such as hairdressing, cookery or motor vehicle mechanics could use this method to showcase both their skills and personality. Video CV’s are also a fantastic resource for creative students who could include this in both job and university applications. Instead of filming their CV they could create a short animation or photography slideshow. The first video CV has been created using a simple animation technique and has proved to be extremely popular on YouTube with 25000+ hits. Despite this a few of the scenes are rather dark and the video could be easily improved. An a class activity you could show the video to your students then in groups get them to brainstorm how the CV could be improved.
The second video is one of my favourite CVs from todays search.