Posted by & filed under Accessibility, CPD, mosomelt, presentation, Webinars.

Last week I was lucky to have the time to attend two sessions of the Association of Learning Technologists East of England’s Embracing Accessibility series. Rather than do one long session they ran one hour sessions daily from Tuesday to Friday. I both presented and attended the sessions on Tuesday and Friday.

Integrating Tools To Support Accessibility

Tuesday’s session was titled ‘Integrating tools to support accessibility’. I did a presentation I described as ‘Beyond the accessibility checker’. I wanted to highlight that we can have the digital tools in place to support accessibility but how do we get buy in from academic staff. At ARU, they have always done a huge amount of work ensuring learning materials are accessible and inclusive, through policy, use of accessible templates and guidance that promotes the use of accessibility checkers in Microsoft products. To further enhance our accessibility we have also invested in Blackboard Ally that works as both an accessibility checker and to provide alternative formats of documents to students and staff. Engaged staff with an interest in accessibility do a fantastic job but what about the rest? When we first started using Ally we saw a rapid improvement in accessibility scores but I am worried that this will now plateau.

At the session, we touched on the importance of getting staff to see the value of accessibility rather than just trying to be something that we ‘have to do’ but we also discussed that accessibility should be part of the conversation at appraisal. Most people. like us, had developed some sort of communication plan linked either to the introduction of Ally or around the 23 September date for the implementation of the Digital Accessibility Regulations.

Although no-one had the magic answer to solving this problem it was useful to share what other people were doing and that many of us were in the same boat. I might not have got any particular new ideas from the session but I do feel re-invigorated to try and reach more staff. So I predict a flurry of activity of making resources, writing blog posts and communicating with senior managers coming on.

Captions

The second presentation at this session was on captioning. There was a lot of discussion around the need for human checking of captioning. It got me thinking of the guidance I have just produced for staff. Word for word editing of captions that have been generated by automatic speech recognition (ASR) is time consuming. If this was enforced we would probably have many academics who would just opt to no longer use videos or provide recordings. Instead I have promoted the idea of sense checking captions. I read through the captions file without watching the video to make sure it all makes sense. Only if I come across a part that is obviously wrong and I cannot remember what I said do I go back and check the video. This way you can make sure that the ASR hasn’t changed words that alter the meaning of what was said. You have to be so careful that an uhm, doesn’t turn the word after it into an un….. One example was when formed became unformed and changed the sentence to mean the opposite of what was intended. This sense checking means that we can meet the requirements of the legislation, provide suitable captions for students all without killing the teacher.

Accessibility of Third Party Tools

Again this was a session with two presentations, with me up first. I was presenting about the idea of developing a traffic light system for recommending third party tools to staff. We don’t want to stifle innovation, we want to provide guidance to staff on what tools to use to engage students in different scenarios but how do we know if a tool is suitable to use? We are in the process of trying to develop a framework for recommending the third party tools to staff within the context of whether they are supported by the University, they comply with GDPR requirements and last but not least that they are accessible.

The trouble is when you start looking at accessibility you have to start thinking about where do you find out about how accessible a tool is? We talked about using VPATs, but of course these are produced by the third party vendors themselves. We talked about the importance of discussing with students. Some third party tools that are promoted as assistive technologies are not accessible for all students. So does this come back in part to is there a way that students can engage with the same content in a different format that is accessible for them?

Again the session came up with as many questions as it did answers. It highlighted that although some useful resources are available such as Web2Access and Lexdis exist, these have to be continually updated as technology changes to maximise their benefits. The Lexdis resource that uses students with disabilities to provide advice on the accessibility of technologies did spark that idea that we need to make more use of students and their experiences in making these decisions.

Accessibility Statements

Caroline Briggs from the University of Cumbria presented on their approach to meeting the Digital Accessibility Regulations. The biggest take home messages for me were the importance of getting buy-in from senior managers and the fact that these are working documents. You cannot just produce the statement and say it is done. Where there are any issues the accessibility statements provide a framework to improve accessibility but whatever happens these statements and the accessibility of the tools that they apply to needs to be reviewed regularly.

Conclusion

These interesting sessions provided lots of food for thought but my overarching aim to take away is that we need to make thinking about accessibility the norm. In that way it should not be too time consuming as it should be part of our everyday practice. It should also be something that we regularly talk to students about, both helping to ensure that our resources are accessible to them but also about raising awareness of digital accessibility in general.

Posted by & filed under Conferences, mosomelt.

Brief notes from Day 2;

Reimagining Assessment: Measuring Student Performance Following Covid-19. Professor Helen O’Sullivan. Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education). Keele University

Case study based on Keele University (Flexible Digital Educational Framework). Cannot separate out assessment from curriculum design. See JISC Mindset for digital design, https://repository.jisc.ac.uk/8133/1/2030-strategy-framework-for-university-leaders.pdf. 1. Renovate phase. Strong institutional support to changing assessment – workshops on alternatives to exams (investigated and REJECTED remote proctoring) 2. Evolve. Accelerated the FDEF. Existing terminology not very useful, one alternative Robin DeRosa’s continuum Human or Content centred. 3. Transcend. No going back to how things were before (AI, analytics, personalised feedback, Programmatic assessment, VR and simulation, digital co-creation).

Tools, Tips and Guidance to Get the Most out of Your Live Online Teaching. Esther Barrett. Subject Specialist: Digital Practice. Jisc.

How do we include live sessions that create interactivity? (based on Certificate on Online Facilitation – COLF)

Welcome: Make people comfortable. Mention start and finish times. Have ground rules (cameras on?). Mention recording.

Introduce the platform (eg MS Teams, PE, Mentimeter). Quick yes/no can be useful. Chat is your friend!  Use polls.

Use whiteboard (in teams)- quadrant methods – pencil tool good for word search (esp. for intro activity) https://www.puzzle-maker.com/WS/

Engaging the invisible audience – PP sides design (too busy, font too small, keep it simple). Establish the focal point of the slide. Type faces. Font size never go less than 32. Colour contrast. One point per slide. Balance between text and design. Copyright free images. Robust structure/repeated layouts. Follow up: shared screen quizzes, capture screens.

Webinars, online classes and meetings – From yawn to yay! – https://www.jisc.ac.uk/training/webinars-online-classes-and-meetings-from-yawn-to-yay

Posted by & filed under Conferences, mosomelt.

Below are my brief notes from day one – I will post a more reflective post at the end of day two.


Chair’s Welcome Address – Professor Suzanne Cholerton. Pro Vice Chancellor – Education. Newcastle University

Top Tips for Maintaining Teaching Excellence and Ensuring Quality in Blended Learning
Professor Neil Morris. Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Digital Transformation. University of Leeds

Lessons learnt at Leeds University: Problems of digital education generally – Digital exclusion, Inequality, technostress, technocentric, Digital lliteracy. Problems at Leeds uni: main area that was lacking -Virtual Laboratories, . New institutional strategy is labelled a Hybrid delivery (Student Centred Active Learning Approach – SCALA): Student centred: supportive
Active Learning: Cognitively involved students, engaged in diverse media
Digital Practice at Leeds:
SCALA
Teaching and learning online
Accessible and inclusive learning
Delivery in virtual classroom
Student facing study support advise
Training and development
Online student support: Getting started (induction, preparing to learn) Comprehensive guidance.
Summing up: Fully embedded the SCALA approach, Focus on inclusive, engaging learning, Authentic assessment, Flexible approach

Delivering Blended Learning on a Socially Distanced Campus
Miranda Harmer, Chair Student Network for the Association of European Conservatoires. Ramy Badrie, Vice President – Education, University of Brighton Students’ Union. Maisha Islam, Student Engagement Research and Project Officer University of Winchester

Importance of universities consulting with students on efforts to create socially distanced campuses. Open dialogue, live feedback, what are the priorities. Don’t over promise. What do students want? Interactivity – need to move teaching online to free up space for those who need it on campus.
Digital poverty (elephant in the room) – Institutions need to become creative to address this – most affects BAME students
Truly connected campus –
Needs of all students are considered, including students with disabilities, students with religious and cultural needs and students with health concerns. Challenges faced by diverse student bodies. BAME students – experiences compounded vulnerabilities (more like to live at home or intergenerational household, digital poverty, overcrowded house holds, racial harassment, lack of belonging to university spaces, imposter syndrome/culture shock)
Barriers to understanding student needs (‘satisfied settling’) – ‘keeping tour head down’ and accommodating to the norms.
Unis should be conducting their own research..
Universities can ensure they are creating safe spaces where students feel connected to their classmates and a sense of belonging. Students experiencing lack of human interaction….causing anxiety and isolation. Synchronous session provide interactivity. PBL, group work. Safe spaces (lack of personalisation, Noninclusive languge, camera mics rules, students being segregated
Ways to ensure safe spaces – personalisation 3 Cs – code of conduct micro affirmations (active listening, recognising and validating experiences, affirming emotional resources)
Unsafe learning environment – very import to address for inclusion and motivation

What does the Future Hold for Online and Blended Learning Post Covid-19?
Dr Harriet Dunbar-Morris, Dean of Teaching and Learning, Reader in Higher Education,University of Portsmouth. Paul Driver, Senior Learning Technologist Anglia Ruskin University. Dr Andrew Turner, Associate Pro Vice Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), Coventry University. Professor Danielle George Associate Vice-President for Blended and Flexible Learning University of Manchester

Portsmouth Uni: Blended and connected approach included peer to peer support. Develop principles of bended learning that was pedagogically led and included inclusive learning. Support for staff via websites on elearning tool and an eLearning festival. Variety of training events led by academic developers and learning technologists. Built on excellent existing practice, Incorporated existing ‘content (lecture) capture pilot project, flipped classroom and ABC model. Moodle template was developed and promoted plus other tools such as Nearpod and Padlet.

Anglia Ruskin Uni: Resisted purchasing new technologies and looked at technologies that were being underutilised. Things that were working well were ‘simplicity and consistency’ were being utilised – plentiful meaningful communication. Created a series of workshops making sure things were ‘structured, accessible and engaging’ – led to new faculty template. Thus making the VLE more active (embedding VR simulations) Tug of war between creativity and consistency.

Coventry Uni. Accelerated existing plans. Edtech ecosystem. Accelerated their Aula project – moved all teaching from Moodle to Aula. Which is a platform that ‘’focusses on student engagement’. Used learning designers to do this. Based on 4 key principles of Hybrid delivery (Active, Applied, Social, Inclusive). Feedback: ‘2.5 more engagement on Aula compared to Moodle’. Good student satisfaction feedback so far this semester.

Manchester Uni. Created lots of ‘How to’ guides, getting started, assessment, etc. This semester involved many students in co-creation of courses. Created a staff Yammer group on online learning which is subject specific. Use Bb, Collaborate, Zoom, MS Teams, Nearpod, Padlet. Major challenges – 1. practical lab based courses. 2. Assessments – engaged in remote proctoring. Created CoP’s too which includes a mixture of academic, PS and IT.

Assistive Technologies: Embedding Inclusion into the Delivery of Online Learning
Dr Tim Coughlan, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Educational Technology Open University.

Blended learning is the new ‘normal’. This year sees new accessibility legislation.
What is accessible online learning? Learning can access materials and activities but also has to be equitable? Barriers often created by society and institutions. Following guidelines and standards are essential. Automated checking tools are important (BB Ally) dont give the whole picture (diversity of learners)
How can it be achieved? Accessibility is a process between a person and a resources – not a tick box exercise. Need to be proactive – when designing courses and acknowledge the diversity of learners. Process of improvement is embedded in the legislation, in course design, student testing, responsive judgements, and collaborative effort (academics, library, student groups).
OU Approach – Securing greater accessibility (SeGA) – champions/ knowledge sharing events/groups dealing with improvements and consistency.
Assistive technology e.g.’s 1. Screen reader – spoken version of content for students with visual impairments. 2. Speech recognition.
Challenges and opportunities: Getting students started – students get behind and hard for them to catch up. Processes for getting support are a major issue for students in unis. Impacts causing stress or exacerbate mental health. What can we do? One solution – Virtual assistants. Peer and collaborative activities cause issues. How do we make these inclusive? Need to build collaborative skills into the activities. Students feel isolated – engage students in participatory research is one solution

Health, Safety and Wellbeing: Supporting Staff in the “New Normal”
Dr Sally Jackson, Chief People Officer,Sheffield Hallam University


Ran a short staff survey in May and a second one in October at SH.
Key learning from lockdown:
• Strong leadership is essential
• Communication is key
• Shared experience makes us stronger
• Partnership with TUs is essential
Plus supporting the vulnerable, recognising the blurring of boundaries eg home/work
Supporting people:
Risk assessment essential. More personalised response (focus on the individual). Recognised the importance of physical and mental well being. Running network events. Winter wellbeing plan, pro-active signposting to support services – NHS providers/ employees assistance programme
Providing essentials:
Dedicated website – on online deals, Equipment for staff, ongoing support on Teams/webex/Zoom. Access to campus – bookable rooms.
Preparing campus: Inclusive as possible – govt. guidance
Student triangle of support: Employability, academic, student support advisors.
Further work undertaken at SH: Flexible approach for staff (flexible working), greater emphasis on equality, diversity and inclusion,
Lesson learnt:
• Good communications is key – clear and consistent
• Importance of health and well being – need invest in both
• Skills development – ever changing edtech tools must be underpinned by learning ‘how’
• Guidance and support
• Flexibility and ability to change direction
• Show appreciation!

Posted by & filed under #EDUC90970, #sotelnz, mosomelt, SOTEL.

Building on a conversation during my facilitation of the #EDUC90970 “Facilitating Online Learning” graduate certificate in undergraduate teaching elective, the participants and I collaboratively generated a conversation that began with critiquing the concept of fostering communities of inquiry to a process of double loop learning about heutagogy and its relationship to the principles of early childhood education (e.g. Montessori). This exploration of the concepts of Heutagogy filtered through into the design of participants prototype online courses. While there were some very creative course design proposals developed, the implementation of heutagogical principles for activity and assessment design were mitigated by conceptions of the scale of the shift in thinking for both lecturers and students and institutional support to enable these changes, particularly in large first-year cohorts – although there were some creative course designs at scale. In particular there seemed to be a continued reticence to build learner-generated contexts into the proposed course designs. While most course designs were creative in the design of a move away from high-stake summative exams and large essays as assessment activities towards more timely formative feedback and collaborative student projects, very few implemented student-generated ePortfolios or collaboration beyond the confines of the LMS (Learning Management System). Institutional change requires a significant catalyst, and not merely a momentary change or the viscosity and elasticity of the structures and procedures will simply reabsorb any changes after the catalyst is removed. However, in the on-going age of COVID19 (post-covid19 statements seem somewhat premature at present) there is a significant catalyst for transformative change for how educational systems and institutions engage with technology and the new pedagogies that new technologies enable – in light of this my question is:

What if higher education actually focused upon the principles of Heutagogy: developing creativity, collaboration, open educational research and practice and building authentic learning communities?

Higher education could:

  • Build student capabilities to navigate the unknown
  • Enable Academics to become change agents that model an openness to facilitate student-centred learning rather than delivery and control of the learning content and environment
  • Design Assessment strategies that become personalisable and follow individual learner goals that lead to a variety of graduate outcomes relevant to environments into which the students will graduate.
  • Design Courses to broker student and lecturer active participation in authentic international communities of practice
  • Support the scholarship of teaching and learning through receiving the same level of funding as discipline-based research
  • Measure research impact by the authenticity of the contribution to the international community enabled by the research rather than academic citations
  • Facilitate collaborative learning design teams that include: researchers, practitioners, developers, students, and professionals
  • Focus upon quality learning rather than economies of scale
  • Enable all students and staff to have equitable access to current technologies   

Bibliography (Sources of inspiration and further reading):

Ecclesfield, N., & Garnett, F. (Eds.). (2021). Digital Learning: Architectures of Participation. IGI Global. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-7998-4333-7

Moore, R. L. (2020, 2020/07/02). Developing lifelong learning with heutagogy: contexts, critiques, and challenges. Distance Education, 41(3), 381-401. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2020.1766949  

Blaschke, L. M., & Hase, S. (2019). Heutagogy and digital media networks: Setting students on the path to lifelong learning. Pacific Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 1(1), 1-14. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.24135/pjtel.v1i1.1  

Hase, S., & Kenyon, C. (2007). Heutagogy: a child of complexity theory. Complicity: an International Journal of Complexity and Education, 4(1), 111-118. https://doi.org/doi.org/10.29173/cmplct8766  

Hase, S., & Kenyon, C. (2001). From Andragogy to Heutagogy. ultiBASE Articles(December), 1-10. http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/pr/Heutagogy.html  

Montessori, M. (1948). The discovery of the child (2004 ed.). Aakar Books. http://www.amazon.com/gp/search?index=books&linkCode=qs&keywords=8187879238  

Narayan, V., Herrington, J., & Cochrane, T. (2019). Design principles for heutagogic learning: Implementing student-determined learning with mobile and social media tools. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET), 35(3), 86-101. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.3941

Posted by & filed under @MelbCSHE, mosomelt.

My first draft of using the free online version of PK Create to make a short (6’40”) summary of my MCSHE Technology Enhanced Learning research program activity so far. It was more time consuming than I thought to record the audio to the slides, and there is an annoying audio ‘click’ at the start of each slides’ audio – next time I think I’ll record the audio separately and attache to the slides rather than use the web-based record function which seems rather low quality and noisey. A bit of an experiment to see the potential of this format for future online presentations and symposia.

https://www.pechakucha.com/presentations/mcshe-tel-research-update