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Technologies for STEM learning

Modern Container-based Learning Interface and Delivery Infrastructure (MCLIDI)

Project leader(s): 
Mark Hall and Soraya Kouadri Mostéfaoui
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

TT284 (Web Technologies) is a popular level 2 module covering fundamental web technologies. One challenge students face is the large number of elements they have to deal with during their studies of the module. Even for the simple introductory activities at the beginning of the module they concurrently work on multiple HTML and CSS files and the complexity increases throughout the module. Students need to follow the instructions in the browser, make the required changes in the editor, then switch back to a second browser window to see the results. This constant switching adds significant cognitive load and introduces an additional source of errors into the learning process. The additional cognitive load is particularly problematic for neurodiverse1 students and students with disabilities, for whom dealing with all these elements presents a higher baseline cognitive load, creating an accessibility barrier to learning success. As a result, TT284 has poor retention and low student satisfaction. Workload and complexity are amongst the most frequent reasons of dissatisfaction.

This project will develop and evaluate a modern container-based learning interface and delivery infrastructure, focussing on supporting neurodiverse students and students with disabilities, particularly those with vision and motor-skill impairments and dyslexia. The developed infrastructure will benefit all students and will be adaptable to other modules within the university. A range of existing technologies will be combined to deliver a highly accessible integrated interface in which the students would have access to the module materials, file editor, and the resulting website within a single browser window. This will significantly reduce the cognitive load and the number of errors made due to that load.

The anticipated outcomes will be an improved student learning experience, better student satisfaction, improved retention, and an understanding of the cost impacts of this approach. The experience and satisfaction will be monitored and evaluated using a range of methods, including questionnaires, focus groups, and automatic monitoring of the students’ interactions with the new infrastructure.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurodiversity

Mark Hall and Soraya Kouadri Mostéfaoui poster (PPTX)

Remote sighted helper support for visually impaired students: exploring good practice: Stage 1

Project leader(s): 
Richard Walker
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Archived
Body: 

This project set out to explore how visually impaired (VI) students may be supported by a remote sighted (RS) helper to interact with visually complex teaching resources, as this support process was being evolved. We aimed to document student and helper reactions to this novel method of support, and to evaluate whether RS helper support is comparable with, or has advantages over physically-present sighted helper support for some VI students and whether such support may usefully be provided in future.

The context was the introductory programming block of TM111, based on the drag-and-drop visual programming environment OUBuild in which students create computer programs by manipulating coloured blocks representing code. Three VI students on TM111 20D were supported remotely by a RS helper, overseen by the TM111 Module Team Accessibility Lead Richard Walker (also project lead). This report documents how this support manifested for each student, describing the perspectives of the students, the sighed helper and the tutors involved.

Related resources

Walker, R. (2020) Remote sighted helper support for VI students: exploring good practice. eSTEeM Final Report (PDF)

Richard Walker project poster

 

 

 

A review of the use of Office 365 and Adobe Connect for active learning by ALs tutoring on T227 and TXY227

Project leader(s): 
Katharine Jewett
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

There are pockets of innovation taking place within the AL community in how digital technologies are being used for teaching and learning; from use of discussion forums to support practice learning to using Adobe Connect for active learning and Onenote being used to support students with learning difficulties or for those who just want to get better at organising ideas. The challenges and opportunities of using digital technologies for learning and the impact on the learner experience are not widely shared. Digital skills are not integrated into the day-to-day professional practice of all ALs, whatever their subject area. ALs themselves bring many skills and experiences from their use of digital technologies. Some of these may need to be adapted and progressed if they are to support students more widely. But in other ways - such as their use of Office 365 and Adobe Connect and their habits of sharing and collaborating online – ALs have much to show us.

I will utilise a survey report for quantitative data and to capture information from ALs tutoring on two modules within the STEM faculty: T227  - Change, Strategy and Projects at work, an OU level 2 module and TXY227, the equivalent compulsory module studied by students taking the BSc (Honours) Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeship, BSc (Honours) IT: Software Development Graduate Apprenticeship and BSc (Honours) Cyber Security Graduate Apprenticeship.   

The research will:

  • Identify what OU approved technologies (Office 365 and Adobe Connect) are being used by ALs on the ground, why and how.
  • Explore how digital technologies can help ALs meet responsibilities under disability and equality law
  • Understand from ALs how digital technologies can support day-to-day learning habits for students, as well as, subject-specific practices from best practice within AL community.
  • Keep up to date with new approaches and new ways of using technology to support student learning, wherever it takes place.

Katharine Jewitt project poster

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