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Technologies for STEM learning

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

Comparative study of distance teaching of Electronics using simulation software versus OpenEngineering Laboratory

Project leader(s): 
Sotiria Psoma
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

Laboratories are critical to enable engineering students to develop knowledge, skills, deep approach of experimentation and to build successful cross-curricular capabilities and capacities. When designing any electronics course, the laboratory practices are one of the pillars on which the learning is established. In distance education, remote laboratories, virtual laboratories and simulators are the main tools to deliver laboratory practices and particularly remote experiments have become a challenge in electronics courses. In 2016, Loro et al. claimed that in order to bring students closer to industrial world, simulators are a first and economic approach but are still far from providing a deep approach for experimentation and understanding the performance of real components together with their measurement equipment limitations. Web-based learning environments have transformed the roles of instructors, students and course materials so much that a new relationship has emerged between these three elements of learning; and, well-prepared pedagogical approaches must be explored and employed (Fu et al., 2009).

This study is designed to compare distance teaching students’ gain of deeper understanding and life-long learning of the necessary theories of the subject, resulting from learning electronics concepts by using computer simulation (MultiSim) versus OpenEngineering Laboratory.  In recent times, educational institutes use increasingly computer simulations for engineering laboratories with certain advantages at least financially, however with significant educational weaknesses such as the difficulty to assess the level of the in-depth knowledge of basic concepts that is developed by the students. Despite this controversial global trend, OU made a significant investment in OpenEngineering Laboratory for practical lab-based teaching at a distance, covering engineering, electronics, control and signal processing. During the last three years, the OpenEngineering Laboratory has been used for the teaching of the T212 Module and this year for the T312 module. A comparative study is required for reviewing and improving the teaching laboratory material in order to lead to improved student achievements and to consolidate a holistic approach especially for distance teaching engineering courses combining different pedagogical laboratory tools. It will be investigated whether the addition of a relative activity such as Analogue Electronics Laboratory during the Engineering Residential School could strengthen and complement the OpenEngineering Laboratory.  In addition, the involvement and support of the SRSC Manchester will be investigated. At the moment, there are very limited analytics available for the OpenEngineering Lab for statistical analysis and assessment of the student usage of the remote experiments (T212 and T312), thus possible ways to address this issue will be carried out.

In this work, a literature review will be performed on the different applied pedagogical methods, especially for the laboratory elements of engineering courses, and their effects on students’ development of knowledge, confidence, satisfaction, competence and safety; controlling risks from accidental hazards in engineering design and later their professional efficiency.

Sotiria Psoma poster (PDF)