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.
Behance in an on-line portfolio and job site for artists and designers.
As well as uploading their work students can search the site for inspiration, follow their favourite artists and designers, show their appreciation by liking a post and leave and receive comments about theirs and others work. The job tabs allows users to search for vacancies by company, specialism or geographical region. This is my favourite feature as students can read the personal specifications in order to increase their awareness of the skills and qualifications that they need to gain to be able to secure a post in their desired field or company.
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.
Yesterday at #rscinspire13 Chris Barber introduced his audience to the AudioNote app which I immediately downloaded and am really excited about trying. The software seems to be exactly what I’ve been missing – an application that can cope with audio and visual note talking whilst cross referencing and sychronising both at the same time.
Here is the official description from the app store:
By synchronizing notes and audio, AudioNote automatically indexes your meetings, lectures, interviews, or study sessions. Need to review the discussion about deliverables on your next project? Trying to remember what the professor had to say about a key point? With AudioNote there is no need to waste time searching through the entire recording to find out. Each note acts as a link directly to the point at which it was recorded, taking you instantly to what you want to hear. Didn’t take any notes during the meeting? No problem, you can add them later.
The reason I’m so excited about this app is because as a student I’ve been using Audio Notetaker for the last few years and have found it to be a life saver. As a dyslexic my short term memory is almost non-existent and I really struggle to take written notes whilst listening at the same time which results in a lot of information being lost. The Audio Notetaker software has helped considerably this with as I can create audio and typed notes at the same time whilst cross referencing these with each other and the lecture slides. I can also highlight important areas of the audio notes for example when a tutor is talking about an assignment brief so the information is easy to find when being referred to later. Although the AudioNote app has a lot less features than the Audio Noter which is a pc based lsoftware the app looks like it will be perfect for work purposes as I don’t need the additional features on a regular basis and I do prefer to carry my iPad rather than my laptop.
The features that I particularly like about the app are:
- The synchronisation of the audio and visual notes
- The ability to create bookmarks throughout the audio recording to highlight important points for easy referencing
- A yellow background can be used instead of white – I suffer from colour sensitivity which makes white backgrounds too bright for my eyes
I tested the app during a staff meeting and it lived up to my high expectations! The app was really easy to use and I now have a comprehensive set of notes that are easy to navigate. When I click on the typed notes the audio that was being recorded at that time starts to play so I don’t have to waste time manually searching. i’m really impressed.