The University of Southampton

ECS researchers present learning technologies in USA

Published: 11 November 2009

Two ECS researchers are presenting the latest developments in learning technologies, for all students including those with disabilities, in the USA this week.

Dr Mike Wald of the School of Electronics and Computer Science Learning Societies Lab presented the latest developments in his award-winning web-based Synote at a symposium at the IBM TJ Watson Research Centre, New York on Monday 9 November.

He demonstrated publicly for the first time new enhancements to the programme which provide the unique ability to synchronise live notes taken using Twitter with synchronised lecture recordings and transcripts created using IBM’s speech recognition software

Synote enhances the learning of all students, including disabled students, and has been developed with the support of the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee). Synote won the EUNIS Dorup E-learning Award 2009 and is being used in the UK, Germany and Italy as part of the European Net4Voice project as well as in US, Canada and Australia by other members of the Liberated Learning Consortium.

The question of how people with disabilities are to access Web 2.0 technologies as they develop further will be addressed by E.A. Draffan, also from ECS Learning Societies Lab in a presentation at the 12th Annual Accessing Higher Ground - Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference in Colorado on Thursday 12 November.

E.A, who led a team which has just launched a tool kit to test the accessibility of Web 2.0 services, will deliver a lecture entitled: 'Walking the tightrope between standards and a holistic approach to Web 2.0 usability and accessibility'. In her presentation, E.A. will highlight the need to enhance the knowledge of a wider network of informal experts and academic staff to enable them to introduce disabled students to the many web-based tools which are currently emerging. This would allow disabled students to further develop their skills and perhaps in time also become informal experts who would be willing to share the strategies they have developed with others as can be seen on the LexDis website.

'In the past, people used their assistive technologies mainly with desktop computer applications, now they are spending far more time online’, said E.A. ’They are also collaborating and communicating via social networks, blogs and wikis, which are not always accessible; however, often with the support of friends and tutors, they find workarounds and go on to build their own strategies.'

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