New Learning

October 15, 2014

Supporting Distance Learning. Manchester Distance Learning Network

Filed under: Uncategorized — kevhickeyuk @ 10:08 am
Tags: , ,

I was recently asked to deliver a short presentation for the Manchester Distance Learning Network.  Here is a recording of that presentation on Supporting Accessibility for Distance Learners


September 2, 2014

Changes to the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) and learning support in the FE Sector

Filed under: Uncategorized — kevhickeyuk @ 3:07 pm

So after looking at Feltag and the Children’s and Families Act, I am now going to look at how the changes to the DSA could be supported by ALS departments in FE colleges, from a technology point of view.

What are the changes to the DSA?

These were set out by David Willetts MP in April

The key changes are set out below:

  • We will pay for higher specification or higher cost computers where a student needs one solely by virtue of their disability.
  • We will no longer pay for standard specification computers or the warranties and insurance associated with them.
  • We will no longer pay for higher specification and/or higher cost computers simply because of the way in which a course is delivered.
  • We are changing our approach to the funding of a number of computer equipment, software and consumable items through DSAs that have become funded as ‘standard’ to most students.”

What does this mean to young people?

In the past those going to university may have received a standard set of equipment from the DSA, such as a laptop & printer.  As these will no long be provided, those going to university with a leaning difficulty and disability will have to make there own decisions about what technology they need.

What does this mean to FE colleges?

Colleges could support learners with their transition to university by helping them decide what equipment they need to get for themselves.  This could be done by a number of ways including:

  • Providing equipment loans so learners could get an idea of what does or doesn’t work for them
  • Providing Independent Assistive technology information on equipment they could purchase themselves, either via an online page or a paper based hand-outs
  • If possible, putting those going to university in touch with young people who are already at university and can give advice on what to get.

August 11, 2014

‘Children and Families Act 2014’ and learning support in the FE Sector

Filed under: Inclusion,Uncategorized — kevhickeyuk @ 2:32 pm

In my last post I discussed the Feltag report, how it could affect Learners with Learning Difficulties and disabilities (LLDD) in FE and some thoughts on how ALS departments could address these issues.  In this post I will be looking at the Children and Families Act 2014 which comes into force on the 1st September. I will be focusing on how ALS teams in FE could make use of Technology.

Children and Families Act 2014’ what is it and how will it affect colleges?

Alison Bolton, the Chief Executive of NATSPEC has made this excellent video which explains the act and what it means for FE

This video forms part of the SEND exhibition on the Excellence Gateway

In the video Alison mentions the supporting document “Advice for further education colleges, sixth form colleges, 16 to 19 academies and special post-16 institutions” which can be found at this link

The Act includes the following line “General FE and sixth form colleges must use their best endeavors to secure the special educational provision that the young person needs.” On 7th October, TechDis will be hosting a webinar which will look at the phrase Best Endeavors and identifying how technology can help.  You can book onto the Best Endeavors webinar via this link.

Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans

For learners who have been assessed and identified as having specific educational needs and disabilities,  the act introduces Education Heath Care Plans.

The EHC Plans:

  • Will cover the ages from birth to 25
  • Will be outcome focused
  • Will gather evidence from, and relate to a broad range of education, health and care agencies
  • Will include involvement from families and the young people

For young people with EHC plans, the support they need from a learning provider could become more personalized to meet their specific needs.  ALS teams may have to review how support can be provided at these personalised levels. One way of doing this could be to focus on how the ALS team can support Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

April 7, 2011

Making sure your web content is accessible

Filed under: Uncategorized — kevhickeyuk @ 9:54 am

Here are a few tools that should help anyone  who wants to make sure their website/intranet/ online learning content, is as accessible as possible;

  • The VisCheck site simulates how your site will look for users with different forms of colour blindness.
  • The Accessibility colour wheel allows you to select foreground and background colours, simulates how they would look to those with different types of colour blindness.  If you select a colour combination that is good, in terms of accessibility, you will get a ‘good’ message appear on the screen.
  • WAVE is a free web accessibility evaluation tool provided by WebAIM. It is used to aid humans in the web accessibility evaluation process. Rather than providing a complex technical report, WAVE shows the original web page with embedded icons and indicators that reveal the accessibility of that page.
  • The Fujitsu Web Accessibility Inspector is one of a number of tools that will validate a webpage according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) guidelines.  This can produce a detailed report which identifies a number of issues.  If you are using a system such as SharePoint, then it might highlight issues that you will not be able to easily change.


January 10, 2011

WordClouds the next generation

Filed under: Learning Technologies,Uncategorized — kevhickeyuk @ 1:21 pm

For a long time I have been impressed with Wordle .  This is a site where you can add a bunch of text and it will create a wordcloud.  A wordcloud is an image that contains the words you have added, the more times a word appears the larger the word appears in the cloud.  So for example the word cloud below is made up of Barack Obamas inauguration speech.  The words ‘Nation’, ‘America’ and ”People’ are large, which means there were repeated many times.  Wordle is very easy to use and gins you options such as changing the colour scheme and removing specified words.

barack obama's inauguration speech as a wordcloud by wordle









I have just discovered an alternative to Wordle called .  The big advantage this seems to have over Wordle, is that  you can get the words to  appear in a specific shape.  So here is Jules Verne’s 20, 000 leagues under the sea as a Seahorse

Tagxedo word cloud

Again,  the more times a word appears in the text the larger it appears in the word cloud.  There are dozens on templates you can choose from or you can upload your own silhouette image.  I have embedded this as a standard image, but from the website you can  downlaod as a range of image types or get the code to embed as an interactive image. Is a similar site with less predefined templates but it allows you to create interactive word clouds where you can click on am image to search that word in Google.

November 3, 2010

Microsoft speech recognition

Filed under: Uncategorized — kevhickeyuk @ 2:39 pm

I have just gone through the tutorial for Microsoft Windows Seven speech recognition. This is software which is built in to the latest version of Microsoft Windows which allows you to too many of the tasks of using computer without touching the keyboard or mouse. Following on from the tutorial I decided to give it a go by writing this blog post just using Microsoft speech recognition. This meant that I had to open my Internet browser, Navigate to WordPress , select add a new post And dictate the title and content of this post.


As you can probably tell I am definitely not an expert in using this software, but I am not doing too bad. It is definitely taking me longer to dictate this than it would to type in this, and there are a few frustrating mistakes along the way, but I am getting there.


The only complaint I have about the tutorial Is that it did not include the phrase, mouse grid. This phrase is invaluable when trying to navigate websites.


Well that’s enough for me dictating, I will now do my best to publish just using speech recognition. If anyone gets to read this blog post it means it’s worked.

September 6, 2010

Research Presentation a Pecha Kucha

Filed under: Learning Technologies,Staff Development,Uncategorized — kevhickeyuk @ 3:06 pm

Pecha Kucha presentation as delivered by Steve Ingle from Edge Hill University at the JISC RSC NW Annual Conference 2010

August 25, 2010

Foxit Reader

Filed under: Learning Technologies,Uncategorized — kevhickeyuk @ 11:25 am

In my recent blog post My digital pencil case 2.0 I forgot to mention FoxIt Reader, which is an alternate to Adobe Reader as a way of reading pdf documents.  I have found this really useful as it opens allot quicker than adobe reader and it allows me to add notes and comments.

Classroom Management Software

Classroom management software allows staff to view the screens of all the computers within a teaching room or library, from a single computer.  This ensures students are not accessing inappropriate websites or going onto applications they shouldn’t behind the teachers back.  Many of the commercial options have trial versions which are available to download.

Different systems have different features, but some common features of these systems include;

–          Staff being able to block or allow internet access for an entire group or individuals (can be used to reward students at the end of a session)

–          Staff being able to restrict access to limited number of websites/applications (ideal for safeguarding issues)

–          Staff and students being able to send files to each other from individual computers.

–          Staff being able to take full control of everyone’s computer which can be used to show a presentation on individual screens rather than having to look at the screen at the front of the class.

Below are links to a number of case studies and testimonials of some of the different solutions;

*The links below are the result of a systematic web search and do not represent recommendations of specific commercial products from myself or the JISC Advance RSC.  If there are any systems you feel I have missed out, and there are case studies available, please use the comments section to let me know.*

King George V College and ‘Swat-It’ (Stop Web Access, Teacher Is Teaching). A system which was developed in house.

Preston College have used Ranger Remote to provide control within a classroom environment and to provide an alternative to an interactive whiteboard

Kings College use NetSupport School to prevent students from using email, browsing the internet and using software they shouldn’t during class.

Blackburn College who have used LanSchool to give the teaching staff control over what is or isn’t blocked and allows students to ask questions in a class without having to put their hand up.
Available via;

MidKent College have used LanSchool to manage the ICT classroom and library

Sandywell college who have used  SynchronEyes to ensure students stay focused

Hamble College (comprehensive school) use AB Tutor Control to provide staff greater control in rooms with poor layouts.

The School of Engineering at Blackpool and Fylde College have used BrowseControl to ensure staff are more focused.

Moor End College use Sanako 500 to increase communication, collaboration and support within the learning environment.

August 2, 2010

‘Turnitin as student diagnostic learning tool; it’s life Jim but not as we know it’ a Pecha Kucha

Filed under: eAssessment,Uncategorized — kevhickeyuk @ 2:35 pm

The following Pecha Kucha presentation, entitled ‘Turnitin as student diagnostic learning tool; it’s life Jim but not as we know it’ was delivered by Jo Richler from Salford University at the JISC RSC NW Annual conference 2010.

No audio

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