rsc east midlands newsletter "intouch" - spring 2005

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The JISC Regional Support Centre (RSC) for the East Midlands produces a termly newsletter "intouch" that highlights current practice in e-learning/ILT in the region.


  • Spring 2005 Volume 3 Issue 2

    the termly newsletter produced by RSC East Midlands

    Welcome from the EditorWelcome to the first In touch of 2005. I hope you all enjoyed your well deservedbreak, and are settling back into the new term.

    The new year brings with it a new editor of In touch. Im sure youll be pleased to see that

    I have kept the format that you are by now so familiar with. I am, however, very keen to

    hear your views. If theres anything new youd like to see in the next edition, please let me

    know, and if youd like to submit an article, just email me at support@rsc-east-

    On the back page you will see that this terms events focus on other JISC services, with a

    host of workshops being delivered by Netskills and JISC infoNet. If youre interested in free

    and open source software, then look out for the OSS Watch Roadshow on February 23rd.

    To book on any of our events, visit our website at

    Rachael Stacey, e-Learning Advisor (HE)


    EVENTSJanuary25th Netskills Workshop -

    Design Solutions for e-learning

    26th Netskills Workshop -Content Solutions for e-learning

    February3rd JISC infoNet Workshop -

    An Introduction to RecordsManagement

    8th JISC infoNet Workshop -Creating a ManagedLearning Environment

    10th Using ILT in Biology23rd OSS Watch Roadshow

    March1st LRC Forum8th JISC infoNet Workshop -

    Effective Use of VLEs

    TBC HE ForumTBC Technical Forum

    For further details see our

    I N S I D ET h i s i s s u eTechDis Accessibility Box

    Adult and Community Learning sector ILT/e-learning strategy: From development to implementation

    The First East Midlands ILT Fair

    The JISC Effective Practice with e-Learning guide

    Providing and Supporting JANETConnections: Who Does What?

    Starting your Learning Journey

    Forthcoming events

    College Focus: South Leicestershire College

    Hints and Tips: The Use of Electronic Voting Systems

    Often when we think about assistive technologies, images of complex kit and highly specialised software packages are

    brought to mind. Although there are plenty of different types of equipment on the market to justify this image, we quite

    often neglect the low-cost good practice for all solutions, readily available to most of us in colleges.

    TechDis, the JISC educational advisory service for accessibility needs, hasrecently supplied each Regional Support Centre with a collection of assistivetechnologies. The Assistive Technology Boxes contain a host of hardwareand software, which can be used to enhance teaching and learning forstudents with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Whilst some of thetechnologies are specialist, such as trackballs, joysticks and specialistkeyboards, what is most striking about this kit is that many of the technologiesare more main-stream such as MP3 players anddigital movie creators, and also low-tech.

    The low-tech items in the kit range from regularpost-it notes & copyholders to indexing cards &highlighter pens, items which we wouldntnormally associate with assistive technology. So,what would be the disability rationale for using ahighlighter pen? Maybe students with dyslexia findthat highlighting text in a variety of differentcolours helps distinguish words from one another,and in doing so may well help break particularsentences down into smaller more manageablechunks. There is also evidence to suggest thatstudents with impaired vision often benefit fromhighlighting words and sentences, an ordinary highlighter pen as anassistive technology because it is simply effective in making text stand outfrom the page.

    So, what does all this mean for your college? Under the guidance ofTechDis, the RSC has been taking the Assistive Technology Box out to

    colleges to allow staff the time to look at the kit and assess its potentialuse in their particular area. What we have found is that a lot of collegesalready have video cameras, MP3 players, digital cameras and many of thelow-tech items mentioned earlier, but that it isnt badged as assistivetechnology so isnt used as such. We hope that by coming out and visitingyour college we can demonstrate how much of this equipment, with theparticular accessibility needs of your students as the focus, can be put to

    good use. That isnt to say that we dont also haveaccess to highly specialised pieces of kit, so if youor a particular student want to try something outbefore spending a large sum of money then gettingaccess to the Assistive Technology Box may be agood way of doing so.

    Although training can be useful and stimulating itis often quite difficult, for all sorts of reasons, tocarry fresh momentum and enthusiasm into theclassroom, especially frustrating when theprocurement of equipment is the main barrier. Wehope to minimise this frustration by offeringcolleges access to particular pieces of kit in theAssistive Technology Box on a loan basis. So, if

    you want the RSC to visit your college to provide training for and access tothe Assistive Technology Box then contact us on we can work out a session that best suits your staff, and ultimately bestserves your students.

    Chris Bell, Specialist Colleges Advisor


    TechDis Accessibility Box

    This activity took place during the initialassessment/induction section of a TeacherEducation programme at South LeicestershireCollege.

    After being given a brief introduction to the topicof constructivism, the learners (all in-servicetutors) were given a task brief: The learners had towork in a small team to research constructivismwithin a specified time frame and agree adefinition of constructivism that could besummarised on one power-point slide. The teamhad to create the slide themselves. They also hadto produce an electronic handout for their peersthat summarised their research, linked theresearch findings to their own teaching practiceand included internet and journal references.

    The aim of the activity was to encourage thelearners to work together in groups to researchconstructivism through the use of ILT and toexperience the constructing of a construct.Prior to engaging in the activity, the learners hadcompleted a right brain/left brain learning styleanalysis and the results were used to mix thegroups up (as part of the task, they would laterreflect on the group work processes).

    This activity was beneficial on many levels -

    It demanded the use of ILT - Web research,Power-point presentation (all student centred).

    The activity also required group work andprovided the learners with an opportunity toreflect on the impact of learning styles in agroup task situation

    Because of the diversity of the student populationin terms of experience and prior attainment, theactivity promoted peer tutoring and the

    development of independent and interdependentlearning skills.

    Learners learnt that they could learn withoutteaching - particularly pertinent to traineeteachers. For some this was their first experienceof developing understanding of a topic withoutteacher input

    The course tutors were able to formatively assessnot only learning of the topic, but approaches tolearning. We were able to provide support wherenecessary and identify gaps in terms of ILT skills.We were also able to observe and assess theaptitude of learners for collaborative learningactivities.

    The learners thoroughly enjoyed the activity andmost of them said that they found it fun - forsome the first time that they had been able touse the F word in learning!

    Jackie RossaDevelopment Manager Teaching and LearningSouth Leicestershire College

    South Leicestershire College


    Constructing Constructivism through ILT:

    Hints and Tips:What are they?

    Electronic voting systems (EVS) combine software that allows you to createinteractive, multimedia tests, quizzes and other activities, with hardware inthe form of handsets (rather like a TV remote control), which allow learnersto respond at the press of a button.

    How do they work?

    An activity is designed using the software.

    The activity is then projected on to a screen.

    Learners select their response using the handset.

    A receiver picks up the responses and stores them on a computer.

    Answers are automatically marked and can be viewed as reports,statistics or graphs.

    Why use EVS in teaching and learning?

    To engage the students i.e. not only to wake them up and cheer them up,but to get their minds working on the subject matter, and so to promptlearning (Draper 2002).

    Assessment - both formative and as practice for summative assessment.Marking is automatic and instant; the learner knows immediatelywhether they have answered correctly and how their performance relatesto the rest of the group; the teacher can instantly gauge theunderstanding of individuals and the group as a whole and adapt thelesson accordingly.

    Formative feedback on learning. Questions at the start of a lesson areused to identify a topic for more detailed coverage. The same or similarquestions at the end of the lesson provide feedback on the learning thathas taken place.

    Formative feedback to the teacher on the teaching. Regular feedback onthe course or a specific lesson allows effective changes to be madeimmediately.

    Peer assessment. Where student presentations are made to the group a seriesof questions can be used to gather instant feedback on their performance.

    Generate discussion. Learners register (thus committing themselves to anopinion) and then discuss their answers to a posed question.

    Increase participation. Privacy of choice allows the less