learner: all technology

spectacularscarecrowAI and Robotics

Nov 17, 2013 (4 years and 7 months ago)


Don't disable the
learner: all technology
is assistive

Ellen Lessner

Abingdon and Witney College

Eta De Cicco


What you will have an
opportunity to do in this session

Contribute to a wiki

which will gather information

about the many ways

people customise

their computer.

Download free, open source
software for text read back,
PowerPoint read back and
concept mapping

Contribute to the
discussion that asserts
that all technology is

A summary of the
information gathered
will be available

Try out the software in
an activity to help you
assess the value of
using it when designing

We should be more
responsible as teacher
trainers, lecturers and
researchers for
highlighting and
embedding the basics

Spell check, grammar check

Let’s start from the beginning

some assistive aspects of

Audio capabilities

Creative aspects

Visual effects





The beginning of ‘disabling’
the learner

Where do we start
when we design

Caught or taught?

Do we teach children or
IT adults how to
customise their settings on
a computer as the first step
to using IT?

Do we systematically teach
keyboarding skills?

Is sound enabled on all
computers in an
educational setting?

How do we universally
teach our teachers about
assistive technology? Or
train current teachers and

The beginning of ‘disabling’
the learner

What are the


In the last 10 years, have we
disabled a group of learners by
not keeping pace with the
developments in technology to
support them?

Are we too punitive and wedded
to an old skills set?

(I hope you will log into Prof
Stephen Heppell’s presentation
on 30 March in the ‘Innovating
Learning Practice’ theme of
this conference)

The law of unintended

Before moving onto the activities, a few more points for

Are we recognising
and utilising current
technologies as
‘assistive’ for teaching
and learning or will
education always be
running to catch up?

Text messaging? Phone

Tools within word processing
programmes like PowerPoint,
comment boxes, drop down
menus, drag and drop?

Voice recognition software

Wikis, blogs and podcasting?


All technology is assistive to

Enable the learner by being clear about expectations

Individuals can work to their age and ability level to summarise and proofread

Provide the right tools across the system

Knowing how to customise existing technology is step one

Keep up with the technology

If an individual listens and understands but cannot read well and
understand, do they need to be kept down/out?

It’s the skill, not the level, that’s important

Activity 1


How do you
customise your technology?

Add to the wiki

How I customise my
technology/computer. To access the wiki, go to the S5
area and click on ‘How do you customise your
computer’. Tell us what you do, please, and we’ll
summarise and share what you tell us at the end of the

The JISC Learners’ Experience Project should
be a valuable source of information about how
people customise their computers and use
technology. Their presentation is on 28/29 March
in the Learner Experience of e
Learning theme.

Ideas might include…

Activity 2

Try out text read

Download Sayz Me.


(make sure
that you download the voices in the order it says)

You can also try several other free versions of text read back
which are on the table included in the TechDis case study on free
software mentioned earlier. Click here:

Customise the voice, speed and pitch to suit you and listen to
one of the papers from this conference.

Alternatively, download a student’s assignment, listen and
reflect on what you might do to encourage a student to use
the software.

Activity 3

Concept mapping

Download CMAP (

) or FreeMind, and spend
a few minutes familiarising yourself with the tool

). For
other concept mapping software, go to the table on the TechDis

Use a map to summarise this session and to note any key points
you would like to discuss.

Try to map the key points in a student’s assignment! Are they
linked in a logical fashion or have you had to trawl through to see
whether they understand concepts?

Map your next teaching session.

Develop a template that would save you time when lesson

Decide whether you like branching maps (FreeMind) or concept
maps with shapes (CMAP)

Please join in the discussion

Whether you have successfully tried out all
the software or added to the wiki, we hope
you will join us and contribute to the