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LexDis wins Learning Impact Award

Published: 21 May 2009

An innovative research project based in ECS has won a prestigious award in the world’s annual competition of high impact use of technology to support and enhance learning.

A Learning Impact Award was made to LexDis, a JISC-funded project which is assessing some of the difficulties which arise in e-learning for disabled learners. The award was made last week at Learning Impact 2009, the IMS Global Learning Consortium's annual conference which brings together the world's leading creators, vendors, users, and buyers of learning technology.

LexDis, which is led by Dr Mike Wald and E.A. Draffan at the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science’s Learning Societies Lab, and Dr Jane Seale, from the School of Education, received a Best in Category award and was named Best Assistive Technology Network.

The Learning Impact Awards (LIAs) recognize the use of technology to improve learning across all education segments and in all regions of the world. The finalists were evaluated by an expert panel of judges and the attendees at the IMS annual Learning Impact conference and Summit on Global Learning Challenges, held this year in Barcelona.

More than 30 students participated in the LexDis project and fed back their strategies for accessing various technologies.

Some of the key recommendations from the project were: • Improve and increase the availability of desktop personalisation so that students can log in with their own colour, font and accessibility options. • Increase the level of provision for online materials. This is vital for those who cannot handle paper based materials easily. • Increase the level of awareness for the use of alternative formats on the basis that even the most basic PDFs and PowerPoints can cause problems if they cannot be read on screen with speech output or accessed via the keyboard. • Design and develop learning opportunities and support systems that recognise the significant factors that influence disabled students’ use of technology – notably time.

‘Time is not on the disabled student’s side and indeed time is a real issue for every student, so there is a genuine need to keep technologies as simple as possible,’ said E.A. ‘We found it really useful that the students who took part in the LexDis project came up with new ideas for working with inaccessible resources and were often very innovative in the way they carried out research.

‘It is very important that we understand the difficulties that students encounter. Some of them, for example, have to take a PDF and change it into an alternative format to be able to annotate it or cope with diagrams. The knowledge that we have gained from these students is available on the website with guides and tips. It will also be used to look more in depth at the accessibility of Web 2.0 technologies.’

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453

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