OU activity 1 – getting started

Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students is my first OU module.  The first online activity of the module is to reflect on my role and context in Education, and how it relates to accessibility and online learning.

Currently I’m working in an IT role at a large FE/HE College – but not in a role that specifically relates to education delivery or student support.

Fortunately, I do have access to colleagues from teaching, and from disability and learning support departments.  I will be using these contacts to reflect on the college’s policies and practice concerning accessibility and in support of students with disabilities.

My institution has a stated goal to increase online provision of courses and materials.  I suspect that this has more to do with competition and reducing costs than an ambition to improve accessibility underpinned by Universal Design for Learning (or similar) principles.  I also suspect that whatever action is eventually taken to progress this goal will happen as an isolated project rather than as part of organisation-wide changes.

I have recently completed a degree at my workplace so have experience of how teaching materials were delivered online to support of classroom sessions.  I also witnessed some of the in-classroom range of disability support services provided here.

On completion of my course, or sooner, I would like to change career to work supporting students either directly, or by being involved in the delivery of accessible online learning.

Well, they say that a journey starts with a single step … step 1: complete.

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Prep for study – with OneNote

Since completing an undergraduate degree in 2016 I’ve been preparing for MA study at the Open University. As the first module guidance suggests reflecting on study via blogging I’m starting with a post about my preparation.

I’m finding Microsoft OneNote an excellent tool for recording detailed summaries of (hopefully relevant) books that I’ve been reading.  I’ve created sections to represent different books and pages for each chapter within the book.  As it stores the data in the cloud it’s also great for working in multiple locations.

OneNote

Creating notes is a good way of digesting the contents and also produces a personalised reference source.  I’m hoping that the detailed index of ideas and summary text will be beneficial when I come to re-visit the books in preparation for specific assignments!

Referencing with Word

ReferencesI’ve been trying out a new tool … and created this Microsoft ‘Sway’ presentation to show how to use Microsoft Word to manage references and citations in your documents.  These tips may save you time and help to reduce errors – they did for me.

LINK: View the Sway presentation – using MS Word for referencing

RE: Open University (OU) referencing format:

The OU version of Harvard referencing – which I am now using – is different from the reference list output produced by Microsoft’s Harvard settings.  However, the other benefits still make it good to use:

  • you collect the source referencing data correctly as you write (or at least sufficient to find it again),
  • your inline citation text is formatted and easy to spot,
  • the reference list is automatically updatable,
  • at the end of the writing process you can see at a glance which sources are in use and which have been edited out.

Reformatting to meet OU referencing criteria means that after the final edit, you need to manually copy and paste the reference list and make the minor alterations necessary to reformat in the OU style (according to the OU guidance document).

Also note that an OU module guide that I read stated that for secondary referencing (which is demonstrated in the Sway presentation) you should not list the original source in the reference list as it would imply that the original source had been read.

Other comment:  Microsoft Sway is a very visual tool.  Since recently studying the topic of accessibility in learning, and without re-visiting this tool to study it further, I think that I probably won’t use it again to distribute information.

Pictures

Here are a few pictures that I drew … some time ago.  It’s so long ago now that I look back and can’t believe that I had the patience to do them.  My favourite is the one named anouk, which is the name of the person whose picture I copied from a tatty old book of movies and movie stars.

Pictures are: #1 A teddy bear (This was drawn from life. The bear belonged to my sister). #2 A fashion model (This was drawn from a magazine). #3 An actress (This was drawn from a movie book). #4 Alex (This was drawn from a photo of my nephew)

Chain Reaction

Ever listened to BBC Radio 4’s Chain Reaction ?  It’s brilliant – here are a few quotes from some of my favourite episodes:

Graham Linehan talks to Adam Buxton.  Ser.9 Ep.6.  Graham (02:08): “I’m at a slight disadvantage in being the interviewer this week, because I have no interest in other people”.

Stewart Lee interviews Alan Moore.  Ser.1 Ep.5.  Alan (03:30) talking about DC comic author Stan Lee: “[he] had this huge breakthrough of two-dimensional characters”.   

Stewart Lee interviews Alan Moore.  Ser.1 Ep.5.  Alan (16:11) talking about his parody of the genesis of the Batman character, in which his character says “my parents have been gunned down in front of my eyes, I will become a mumbling, traumatised street-person and scare everybody, not just criminals”.

Mark Thomas talks to Alexei Sayle.  Ser.2 Ep.3.  Mark (03:13): “Your parents were both Communists, how much did that influence you?” Alexi: “Massively,  they told me that it was Lenin who came down the chimney at Christmas”.