East Midlands Learning Technologists

East Midlands Learning Technologists' Group, supported by ALT

Our Spring 2014 EMLT meeting – Video killed the radio star

So, another meeting has come and gone.  There was cake, there were cups of tea, there was chatting and there were ideas.  Lots of lovely ideas!  All held at the University of Derby on the 2nd of April 2014.

Video killed the radio star

If in doubt, draw your own illustration!

The theme for the meeting was ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ (which obviously meant that *that* song got stuck in my head for the whole time I was organising the meeting!).  We wanted to explore what digital video creativity looked like in all of its forms.  From the small scale of designing learning activities with video to institutional systems and new ways of ‘doing’.  We had several terrific presentations on the theme and a healthy discussion about what value video might have in education as well as coming up with a list of tips for good practice which everyone had the chance to contribute to.

Following a lovely buffet, the first presentation of the day came from Simon Birkett, Technology Enhanced Learning Manager at the University of Derby.

He spoke on ‘Learning Space Design – Digital Innovation and Creativity’ and talked us through the changes which have been happening to learning spaces at Derby.  Transforming the way people think about even things like furniture – moving from the ‘furniture on wheels is a health and safety issue’ mindset to the ‘where are the wheels, how can we make the space flexible’ has been a challenging one, but the images Simon shared clearly showed how it could impact on the way in which students could work together.  The joined up thinking and investment seemed to be strong messages which came across from his presentation and provided plenty of food for thought!

Following Simon’s presentation, we moved on to the PechaKucha sessions.  We were very fortunate to have colleagues from across our region presenting on a range of topics – and all of whom did a fabulous job of keeping to time!  No easy feat when it comes to PechaKucha-style presenting.

First up for the PechaKucha’s was Rob Higson from the University of Derby – presenting on ‘Engaging our fashion programme through video’.

He shared some of the work he and a colleague at the university have been doing in working with an academic to integrate video into her teaching practice with fashion students.  From instructional videos to video feedback to students as creators of their own videos for critique – it was great to see.  They were using iPads with the Panopto app to capture the video and it showed just how one good idea could flow into another and another… and ultimately change practice.

Next up, the brilliantly titled ‘Putting Lipstick on a Pig’ from Charles Shields, University of Loughborough.

Charles shared the reality of lecture capture at scale – points of resistance that he’d experienced and, more importantly, how they were handled.  Apart from needing a prize for his presentation title, he gave everyone lots of food for thought and the opportunity to reflect on their own experience of supporting lecture capture.

Following on from Charles was Matt Howcroft, University of Derby who shared ‘Creating a great video learning resource’.

With his beautifully visual presentation took everyone through the value that video could add and what approaches might work in learning and teaching.  Great stuff from Matt!!

Nikodem Miranowicz from the University of Nottingham followed with ‘Video synced interactive web visualisations’.

He shared an approach whereby video could be synced with data visualisations using javascript libraries.  Seeing examples of the visualisations in action was inspiring stuff – and while the code might have gone over my head, it definitely didn’t go over everyone’s and I know his presentation will have got people’s brains whirring with possibility!

Our penultimate presentation was from Hannah Davies, University of Derby, who shared her presentation ‘Multiple perspectives through video’.

Another beautifully constructed presentation and it was excellent to see some video examples of the work that Hannah and the media team at the University of Derby have been putting together.  Working to support careers and employability is a hot topic across institutions – from FE to HE, private to public sector – and Hannah showed that getting out there and making real connections for learners with video is a powerful tool.

Last up was Dr Stuart Jolly from Nottingham Trent University.  Stuart’s presentation was on ’20-ish ideas for using video in learning and teaching’ and he’d put together a video of all of his examples which was superb.  We’ll write them up with Stuart and post them on the blog later – his work showed how video can play such an active part in students’ learning.  From supporting the creation of learning communities, to building in opportunities for review and reflection to helping with critical analysis and personalising feedback.  Stuart’s video is well worth a watch!

Phew!  Lots and lots of ideas – and inspiring stuff from our brilliant community.  What a fantastic region this is for great ideas!

We always have the opportunity to go round the room to see if there are any other ideas, projects or connections people would like to make… and as ever, there were.  It helps get the conversations going for when we break for a cuppa and more cake… and there’s always a point during the afternoon where I take a moment to listen to the buzz of the room and appreciate what a strong community it is that we’re forming.  Brilliant!

Once we were fortified with more cake, tea and biccies, it was time for a demonstration of Box of Broadcasts from David Hopkins, University of Leicester.  David showed us just how easy Box of Broadcasts is to use and gave us the chance to consider its potential at our own institutions.  Because we have colleagues from several different institutions represented, David’s demo allowed us to talk more broadly about issues connected with overseas students and licensing, with the potential for tagging and retrieval of video, creation of playlists, easy embedding of clips as well as the reality of supporting a service like that.

And finally – in what was a packed programme! – we all worked together on putting together some collaborative documents.  I’ll share them as separate blog posts another day.  Essentially, we had three main areas to contribute to:

  1. What’s the point of video in the curriculum?
  2. What value does it add to learning?
  3. What best practice hints and tips have we got?

There were points that made me go ‘ah, not just me then’, points that made me go ‘hadn’t thought of that’, and points that just made me laugh!  Especially the ones about finger food and porridge!!  That’s the beauty of our group… we get to chat informally with our peers about the reality of our professional experiences.  Highs, lows, warts and all.  The shiny stuff is for conferences… our group is about our shared reality.    Talking of a shared professional experience, we are offering the opportunity for CMALT mentoring across the region, which I briefly mentioned at the end, and if anyone would like to talk to me further about it, please drop me an email to s.horrigan@derby.ac.uk.

Phewie!!!  Excellent to see old friends, meet new colleagues and strengthen our network.  Thanks to all who came and contributed in any way.

Our next meeting will probably be at the University of Nottingham in early July and we’ll be on the look out for presentation ideas around early June… so please keep an eye out for our call for presentations.


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Video wall image

Photo Credit: Bourguiboeuf via Compfight cc

Not long to go now until our Spring 2014 EMLT meeting!

It’s going to be held on the 2nd of April at the University of Derby from 13:00 to 16:00 with a buffet lunch available from 12:00.  Our theme this time is…

‘Video Killed the Radio Star’

… we’ll be thinking about all things digital video creativity.  Or rather, we’d like you to help us think about all things digital video creativity.  If you’d like to submit a proposal for a PechaKucha presentation then you can do at http://goo.gl/ZqIa8R – approx. 6 minutes, 20 slides on whatever you think might be relevant to the rest of the group on your work with digital video… from small scale creativity in the curriculum to doing things BIG!  From innovations to issues… we’d love to hear about it.  Use the form, submit an idea… share with the rest of us!

If you can get your ideas to us by Wednesday March 12th  then we can start to finalise the programme.

As ever, if you haven’t yet booked a place, please head over to our Eventbrite booking form at http://emltspring14.eventbrite.co.uk  - there’s a password for the booking form which is as follows:  em1t  (that’s a one instead of an ‘L’ in the middle).  It’s free to attend, there’s food available… and there are only a few places left… so get your skates on!

Look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible and sharing in the great work that’s going on in our region.


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April EMLT meeting – Booking and call for presentations!

Radio Free Strawberry

We have a date and a venue for our next EMLT meeting… and now a booking form to go with that too… so…

*‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ *

… is the theme and we’ll be thinking about all things digital video creativity. Or rather, we’d like you to help us think about all things digital video creativity. If you’d like to submit a proposal for a PechaKucha presentation then you can do at http://goo.gl/ZqIa8R – approx. 6 minutes, 20 slides on whatever you think might be relevant to the rest of the group on your work with digital video… from small scale creativity in the curriculum to doing things BIG! From innovations to issues… we’d love to hear about it. Use the form, submit an idea… share with the rest of us!

Want to come along? I bet you do! So here are the details:

Date: 2nd April 2014
Time: 13:00 – 16:00 with a buffet lunch from 12:00
Venue: University of Derby
Cost: Free (the best kind of price!)

Book here: http://emltspring14.eventbrite.co.uk

There’s a password for the booking form which is as follows: em1t (that’s a one instead of an ‘L’ in the middle)

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#LTFE: What’s my identity? Exploring the identity of a Learning Technologist through the analysis of a tweet.

By Geraldine Murphy, Rachel Challen and David Hopkins.

Based on David Hopkins previous blog posts about perceived identities of Learning Technologists, the #LTFE project was developed to explore this conundrum in Further Education. The outcomes of the #LTFE project were based on qualitative data that was collected through the capture and archiving of Twitter posts from October 2013-November 2013, using a tagging system on Google docs. The TAG (Twitter Archiving Google Spreadsheet) system, developed by Martin Hawksey, allows the user to archive Twitter posts using specific search functions. There is also an inbuilt analytics spreadsheet page that allows you to see the top Tweeters, number of links, number of Re-Tweets, unique Tweets and average Tweets per person, which proved to be a valuable tool for the research variables in extracting and comparing report data.

The data was gathered by performing automatic searches, set to specific requirements, of all Tweets containing the hash tag #LTFE; all non-case sensitive tweets were also included within the searches. The data was archived into a spreadsheet that generated #LTFE specific statistical data, including number of Re-Tweets and links, as well as user data containing information on Twitter user, time stamp, Re-Tweets and specific status URL’s. Due to the archiving of such personal data, this project had to adhere to the Data Protection Act of 1998, acknowledging that all of the data that the tag system would pull-in and store for this project would remain anonymous and confidential and stored in a password protected file.

Having very basic prior knowledge to the inner workings of scripts, the research team was anxious of how complex the set-up would be and kept in mind from the offset how useful this tool would be to educators in gathering data about their students relationships/use of the Twitter medium. The setting up of the system was straightforward, the basic requirements to get started were a Google account, a Twitter account and a copy of the TAGS script which is available from here:


What is new in version 5 of this script is that the user requires authentication from the Twitter account you wish to draw data from, this was the most complex part of the set up, particularly if social media sites are restricted within the educational institution. The instructions on how to gather the Twitter authentication is shown on the first section of page 1 of the TAGs Google spreadsheet as shown in the image below:

#LTFE: What’s my identity? Exploring the identity of a Learning Technologist through the analysis of a tweet.

For more information on how to create and run a TAG system visit:


#LTFE: What’s my identity? Exploring the identity of a Learning Technologist through the analysis of a tweet.

What makes this tool particularly fascinating relates directly to the nature of social media and its power to share information to large audiences in real-time.  When social media is used to gather data in such an open way, researchers  inevitably employ an accidental sampling strategy. Although sampling occurs  ‘accidently’- participants are ‘selected’ or self-selected due to their  appropriateness and suitability- not to mention their access to  and participation in social media formats. The nature of social media creates a ‘snowball’ sampling effect as project links and hashtags are shared, or ‘retweeted’ between followers  and it is this process that allows the chain to continue. Importantly, it is the use  of this snowball sampling effect which is “essentially social because it both uses  and activates existing social networks” (Noy 2007, p7) as a collection tool that  held the potential to enable the small-scale project to access a larger sample and thus generate a higher volume of response.

The full case study is currently under peer review for the ALT Journal under the  title “#LTFE: What’s my identity? Exploring the identity of a Learning  Technologist through the analysis of a tweet”.

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CMALT: My Journey

In November 2013 I was awarded my CMALT accreditation from the Associate for Learning Technology. I wrote about my journey on my own blog, and provided a few short but important tips for anyone looking at working towards their own CMALT award. Here is that post.

After an awfully long time I have written, submitted, re-written, re-submitted, and finally been awarded the status of Certified Member of the Association for Learning Technology (CMALT). When I say it took a long time, it’s not an understatement – here’s how and why.

CMALT – The beginning
I joined Bournemouth University (BU) in 2007, fresh into the role of a Learning Technologist (LT) from 10 years as a commercial web designer. In all honesty I didn’t really know much of what I’d be expected to do but I knew my experience with online communities and techniques in developing and fostering them was key to my appointment. It just goes to show the faith and vision my interviewers had to see me for my potential and offer me the job! I joined ALT shortly after starting, which is where I first heard about CMALT.

In 2008 a visit was organised with ALT to BU to explain the CMALT scheme and sign some of us up. I don’t think anyone signed up there and then, but the seeds were sown for me and I can say that this was one of the deciding factors in me starting to think more in depth and more strategically about the role, my vision of the role of an LT, and the role LTs it plays in the wider School, Faculty, and Institutional environment. In 2009 I wrote my first ‘What is a learning technologist?’ post.

Despite thinking and planning my CMALT portfolio it wasn’t until July 2011 that I actually paid my fees, and starting developing my portfolio, collating the evidence, and filled in the application form. At this point I was already carefully considering my future at BU and whether I could continue to grow as a Learning Technologist there or I needed to look elsewhere for new challenges.

CMALT – The process
I attended many of the online CMALT webinars and found them incredibly valuable in focusing my mind on what was needed, and how I was to do it. What was even more important, however, was talking with my network on LinkedIn or Twitter or Google+ and finding out from their first-hand experience on the process and, more importantly, the ‘portfolio’. From these discussions I realised I didn’t have to submit a ‘plain’ paper formatted portfolio, so I took ideas from my network of successful CMALT holders and created a Google site.

Tip 1: If you decide to select  an assessor of your own then choose him/her wisely. It is not enough to choose them for their knowledge of you and your work (in fact the guidelines state this person should not be “directly responsible for your work or who has worked with you in the production of any of the evidence included in your portfolio.”). It is essential they have the capability to act in your best interest, and this may mean being hard on your submission. You both need a strong working/personal relationship where honest comments on your work can be given and viewed constructively. I would like to thank Dr Milena Bobeva for her frank and honest comments on my portfolio, from which I was motivated to rewrite sections and to work harder to present my work in a clearer and more relevant way, therefore making me both a better LT and a more deserving CMALT holder.

Tip 2: Don’t do it alone. If you can get a colleague or friend to support you, help encourage you, and keep you to your deadlines (self-imposed) then you’ll be better for it. I was lucky enough to have some great support from friends on Twitter, so a big ‘thank you’ to them (you know who you are!).

CMALT – The Portfolio
Before doing anything else read the guidelines and associated files provided by ALT on the CMALT website, especially the Guidelines for CMALT candidates and assessors as this will be your go-to resource during the process. Now read it again. Everything you need is in there and each time you read it you’ll think of your work and evidence you can incorporate into your portfolio.

Next I would recommend reading a few of the publicly available CMALT portfolios to see what other people have written and what kind of evidence they used, and how. Of course you’ll remember that each of us has a very different role and environment we work in, so each portfolio is going to be very individual and personal.

I started constructing my Google site to match the criteria set out for the portfolio document, and by using the heading and the introductory text from the CMALT guideline file. This, again, was the easy bit … now I had to collect and collate the evidence, write the contextual statements, reflect, and present all this in a meaningful and coherent way. Even now that makes it sound easier than I found it.

Tip 3: I would strongly recommend not changing jobs in the middle of this process. I had planned to get the portfolio completed and submitted before leaving BU in May 2012 but, alas, that wasn’t to be. This made it very hard because I knew I had work I could use as evidence but no longer had access to the files or emails I needed.

Part off the process is getting the result/feedback of your portfolio. My portfolio initially came back with comments and suggestions about how I could take different sections and make them better, to include different/better examples and reflection that would indicate and highlight skills, knowledge, practices, etc. in a clearer way.

Tip 4: If your portfolio is referred and requires attention before you are awarded CMALT make careful note of the comments given and do your best to address them: not only will your portfolio be better for it, but you as a Learning Technologist too.

I have also decided to make my portfolio public in the hope that anyone else looking to gain CMALT accreditation can make use of it. You can view my CMALT portfolio Google site here: https://sites.google.com/site/hopkinsdavidcmalt/

CMALT – What next?
Part of my portfolio submission for CMALT was also the hope that I can give something back to the community of ‘technology & education’ and ALT … to this end I will also explore the prospect of becoming a CMALT assessor and mentor (of sorts) to anyone else who is interested in becoming a CMALT holder.

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Sharing Our Practice and Knowledge

So a while ago we asked who had presented at ALT-C and other conferences so that we could collate all the great work that everyone’s busy doing.
Below are a list of the links that were sent through. If there’s any other presentation that’d you like to flag up to the group, please do let us know. It’s great to see collectively how much knowledge an experience we have between us:
Coffee cup chair

Coffee cup chair

Rachel Challen and Matthew Green: Is LaTTE the perfect blend? (The journey of a teaching room into a learning space):
ALT LaTTE Presentation Final
Sarah Horrigan: TELLUS about it, Collaborative approaches to staff development 
OER Bottle- Martin Weller
Rob Farmer and Kate Littlemore: Using OERs and e-tivites to create acollaboratve, mobile friendly, learner-centered course:
Digital Practice Framework
Elaine Swift: Digital Practice – a framework for engaging staff learners:
Image of Alan Clarke's Moving minds presentationAlan Clarke: Moving Minds – using digital montage and video to construct knowledge
E-Pragamtists in WEA
This was at the national WEA conference where, in the  workshop, we invited participants to self-assess against the 5 ‘Internet cultures’ proposed recentlty  by William Dutton and Grant Blank from the Oxford Internet Survey. 
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Lecture Capture – Sometimes it’s better to be heard…and not seen

In my work as an educational technologist in Higher Education (and with academic/teaching experience in HE) I am more frequently receiving queries and requests from teaching staff who want to make a video of their lecture so it can be available to their students on their module site in the institutional VLE. A request to which I respond with the following (or thereabouts) for them to consider:

  • Before embarking on the creation of a video of your lecture or presentation to be used as a learning object, it is important that you consider if there is a ‘pedagogic’ necessity to create this type of resource?
  • Is the knowledge content of the lecture such that a video of you presenting it makes it more likely that students will be able to understand it/apply it or do whatever it is that they are required to do with it in order to achieve the learning outcomes?
  • Does your visible presentation style (how you comport yourself as you present your lecture) increase the potential for students to achieve the required learning outcomes for this particular session?
  • In general – is this method of re-presenting your lecture imperative to the learning requirements and outcomes for the session? Are the students going to learn more from engaging with this learning object if they can see you in it?

If your answer is NO to the above, then you may well be better creating an ‘audio’ recording of your talk and supporting this with slides/images from your presentation.

I have come across many examples of lecture videos wherein it would have been so much better not to be able to see the presenter, where a slideshow with voice-over would have been a more effective approach. The fundamental issue here is not one of visual quality – it’s not such a big deal if the video camera has been setup with a bit of a lean to it, or there are some tatty posters hanging on the walls behind the presenter – sure, these factors can lend an air of ‘quality’ to the presentation (and may be of concern to the marketing dept. if the content is potentially accessible to an ‘external’ audience) – but ‘all that glitters is not pedagogic gold’. What is key is the ‘content’ that is being presented, and how it is articulated for the most effective pedagogic ends via this particular medium of presentation.

Sometimes it is better to be heard…and not seen.

This post touches on some broader issues concerning the notions of ‘technology driven education’ vs. ‘education driven technology’.

The increased desire for academic teaching staff in HE (and perhaps in other education sectors) to engage with technology for teaching and learning is in principal good news, as enhancing learning through technology (ELT) offers some exciting spaces in which education can undergo innovation and evolution and allow us to explore and establish new educational models. However, the demand for creating technology enhanced learning ‘things’ is not always based on a robust pedagogic imperative but can tend towards that of using technology for technology’s sake. There is a danger that if we do not confront the use of technology in education with a critical pedagogic eye at the point of local inception (that is when we as individual educators decide that we want to use a specific technology or technologies for teaching and enhancing student learning) we may simply establish practices in which our pedagogic energies (the time we invest in the development of educational things) are invested in the production of technology-driven learning objects that have no real educational value, and that do not fully exploit the innovative developmental potentials, and the means to directly enhance teaching and learning that ELT can offer.

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March/April EMLT meeting

The next EMLT meeting will take place at the University of Derby in March or April. Before organising the date we would like to get a feel for when people within the group might be available. We are also keen to hear about the themes you would like to see covered at future events. If you could complete the below Google form we would really appreciate it.

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Job Opportunity – E-Learning developer vacancy at Loughborough University

Co Tutor Screen shot

Co Tutor Screen shot

We have a great opportunity at Loughborough for an experienced E-Learning professional, if you are between contracts or looking for a new challenge. As part of commercialising the Co-Tutor software (with £100K of HEIF funding), we are looking to bring in some extra help. You will be working on Co-Tutor and other locally developed PHP based software including the open source Kit-Catalogue and Web-PA packages. You will also have the opportunity to work on other systems and services operated by the E-Learning Systems team, including Learn (Loughborough’s Moodle based VLE) and Computer Aided Assessment via QuestionMark Perception and OMR/OCR.

Job title IT Services Specialist E-Learning Systems
Job reference REQ13754
Application closing date 13/01/2014
Location Loughborough, UK
Salary Management and Specialist Grade 6
Package £28,132 – £36,661 per annum, fixed term until August 31st 2014
Job category/type Management and Specialist
Job description
We are looking for an experienced E-Learning professional to assist the E-Learning Systems Team Manager in the ongoing support and development of a range of in-house locally developed PHP based E-Learning tools.  You will also provide mutual backup and cover for other members of the E-Learning Systems team and services operated by the team such as Learn, Loughborough’s Moodle based VLE, Computer Aided Assessment via QuestionMark Perception and OMR/OCR.

The full vacancy details and online application form are available from our website. If this sounds like it might be your cup of tea, please read on to find out more.

E-Learning at Loughborough University

At Loughborough, E-Learning is fully embedded in the curriculum, through a combination of technical tools, 1:1 and peer-to-peer support, and a vibrant community of practitioners and technical experts.

You will be joining the E-Learning Systems team in IT Services, who operate mission critical systems such as Learn, the University’s Moodle based Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Other major services that the team are responsible for include:

  • Computer Aided Assessment (E-Assessment) using QuestionMark Perception and Optical Mark Reader/Optical Character Recognition (OMR/OCR) technology
  • The University’s online store, hosted with Web Page Marketing (WPM)
  • Echo 360 based lecture capture, branded locally as ReVIEW
  • A range of locally developed web based teaching and learning support tools collectively known as the TutorTools suite

The E-Learning Systems team works closely with the University’s E-Learning Officers, embedded in Schools and Departments, who provide first line support for E-Learning tools, systems and services. IT Services also collaborates extensively with colleagues in the Centre for Engineering and Design Education (CEDE), which acts as a kind of “R&D unit” for some of the University’s E-Learning operations.

Further information about this post 

Your role will be to provide backfill cover for an existing E-Learning Systems team member who led on the development of the TutorTools suite, and has been seconded to CEDE to work on the commercialisation of the software. Day to day work will include providing technical and end user support for TutorTools users, and also developing enhancements to the software as required.

Training on the TutorTools suite end user experience and technical architecture will be provided on the job by existing staff members working in this area. Facilities to manage student industrial placements are being actively developed in TutorTools, and you will have the opportunity to make a significant material contribution to this work.

You will have demonstrable relevant experience developing web applications, e.g. in a Linux / Apache / MySQL / PHP (LAMP) environment, using CSS for styling, and with experience of Web Services (REST and/or SOAP APIs) – preferably in an E-Learning context. Please see the Person Specification for further information.

For more information about E-Learning at Loughborough, please see our E-Learning blog: http://blog.lboro.ac.uk/elearning/. To apply for this position, please see our vacancies website.

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Accessibility Series: Delivering Accessible and Inclusive Blackboard Collaborate Sessions

Laura Hollinshead:

Here is a post that I wrote on the University of Derby, Learning Technology Blog after attending an RSC Jisc webinar in January last year on ‘Webinars that work: how to minimise barriers and maximise inclusion’.

Originally posted on The University of Derby Learning Technology Blog:

Flower alone

Image from Doug Wheller shared under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Using Blackboard Collaborate to deliver online sessions with your students can help to bring together students at a distance whilst still enabling them to receive teaching materials and interact with each other. However, there are a few things that disabled students might find particularly challenging about accessing this type of learning opportunity.

For example:

  • Following the multiple channels of communication can be difficult especially if some of them are inaccessible to the student (e.g. audio for hearing impaired students).
  • Activities requiring immediate interaction can be more challenging for those with dexterity and spelling issues.

You may also be unaware of whether any students have a disability because they might not have disclosed this to you before the session.

In order to help remove these barriers for students it is important to think about accessibility when you are designing your session. Keeping…

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