Glasgow Clyde College is working with Glasgow Clyde Education Foundation (GCEF) on a two year project focused on the development and promotion of inclusion through the use of assistive technologies.
The aim is to remove barriers to ensure that Glasgow Clyde courses are accessible to the widest spectrum of learners, using innovative practice to enhance the delivery of learning and teaching and services to all students. The primary aim of the project is to model, implement, evaluate and share activity that supports an inclusive classroom, to create a technology-enabled environment where everyone can be independent and successful.
The project identified and piloted a series of micro-projects to run within curriculum areas and across college services. The micro-projects were in four areas:
- Learning materials and online learning spaces
This included redeveloping content in the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and providing training for staff and helpful video summaries to help with maintaining an inclusive online environment.
- Access to learning
Glasgow Clyde has introduced the contact Scotland BSL service, a video relay service that allows BSL users to interact with others and/or College services even if there is not an interpreter nearby, and SensusAccess, which allows staff and students to convert documents or photographs into a range of alternative mediums including audio books, e-books and digital Braille. SensusAccess is embedded within the VLE.
- Technology-enabled study skills and assessment practices
Two groups of students trialled the use of assistive apps for notetaking, collaborating and presenting information. Each student was loaned an iPad pre-configured with a number of apps that are widely promoted as assistive. This increased learner autonomy, independence and motivation.
- Staff/student assistive technology training
To mainstream and support the longevity of each of the practices, comprehensive training workshops on assistive technologies and inclusive practices are available to all staff and students. Additionally, all teaching staff and relevant support staff within the College are sent videos with weekly assistive technology tips. This helped to get around restrictions on time for training given the finite number of CPD days available.
So far, around 350 staff and 400 students have engaged with the project. Feedback suggests that staff and students now enjoy an improved confidence and knowledge of using a range of assistive technologies to support their experience in the College. Training evaluations show that staff benefit from spending time learning about technologies and how technology can be used to create an inclusive environment.
Learning points and reflections
Through engaging with training sessions, staff are gaining knowledge of different technologies and how they can be used to create inclusive learning environments. They are understanding that assistive technologies do not only help people overcome barriers to learning, but if adopted at an early stage can ensure that the barriers may not exist in the first place.
Staff are becoming increasingly aware that poor practice and failure to consider accessibility can have a negative effect on learners. From this they become inspired to look for technological solutions to problems faced within their own context.
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