Open University’s CALRG Conference 2015 – Notes Day 2 #calrg2015

CALRG Annual Conference   16 June 2015

Day 2 Paper Presentations:

Jennie Lee Building, Meeting Room 1

This is a semi-live blog of Martyn Cooper’s notes from Day 2 of the OU’s Computer and Learning Research Group’s annual conference in 2015.

9:30-9:45 Opening remarks Patrick McAndrew – IET Director (not blogged)
  Session I – Chair: Rebecca Ferguson
9:45-10:15 Eileen Scanlon

Collaboration and interdisciplinarity in Technology Enhanced Learning Research

  • I am an educational technologist – what is that?
    • – Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) (EU term)
    • – eLearning (also widely used)
  • Missionary zeal about working in TEL
  • Educationalist think they are teaching computer scientists about the real world
  • Computer scientists think they are teaching educationalists how to use computers “properly”
  • The trials of interdisciplinary work! E.g. even a term like “scenario” means different things to different disciplines
  • Need mediating artefacts – e.g. diagrams giving high level system view and function specification
  • The challenge of where to publish when undertaking interdisciplinary work and still score points for the REF (UK National Research Assessment Exercise that takes place every 7 years or so)
  • Are you really interdisciplinary? – It is hard to work this way however necessary and rewarding.
  • Eileen – shows photo of an EU project team and highlights the range of disciplines represented
  • Working with mutual respect even if have to suspend disbelief and work with the methods of another discipline
  • What is the difference between interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary – suggests it is that new knowledge results from the collaboration specifically
  • When you start to look at the complexity of the infrastructure around TEL – bricolage (a tinkerer who works with the tools)
  • TEL is more than research informed products
  • Strategic Research Investment (“OpenTEL”)
  • The OU is investing in this area and in IET among other units – giving funding for additional PhD studentships.
  • Working with colleagues in KMi, Science, NPL, ….
  • Invitation for project ideas for interdisciplinary work to exploit this investment
  • Eileen will be continuing work on interdisciplinarity working with Josie Taylor (former Director of IET) who is returning as a consultant

Brief question time 

10:15-10:40 Mark Gaved, Iestyn Jowers, Gary Elliott-Cirigottis

Makespaces: distributed design studios for distributed design students?

  • A new project – it started yesterday!
  • Interdisciplinary project
  • Manufacturing is changing – globalisation – companies need to move quickly
  • EPSRC – call for “Re-distributed manufacturing”
  • Royal College of Art talks about “Makerspaces”
  • Easier to ship “bits” (digital data) than wood of steel
  • Project draws a network of involved parties together
  • Makespaces – e.g. community workshops with 3D printers as well as traditional wood/metal working skills and tools, knitting and fabric work, …
  •  Work towards personal goals, towards employment, …
  • The OU’s interest is that they teach design and need access to such facilities so that students can build prototypes
  • Informal and formal learning
  • Students have different objectives for their learning and therefore different objectives for accreditation
  • Students very interested in soft-skills
  • Design Dept. has small workshop where students can send in designs over the Internet and have prototypes manufactured
  • Project conducting a feasibility study
  • Working with workshops in Glasgow (MAKLAB) and Milton Keynes
  • Project objectives; 1. Identify key challenges; 2. Investigating models of collaborative learning and 3. Exploring forms of accreditation
  • 2 workshops this summer, the first at MAKLAB the second at the OU around accreditation
  • Case Studies – Students will design a full-sized chair and get it manufactured
  • Thinking about technical skills and communications skills

Brief question time 

10:40-11:05 Shailey Minocha, Steve Tilling, Tom Argles, Nick Braithwaite, David Burden and James Rock

Pedagogical advantages of 3D virtual field trips and the challenges for their adoption

[I am flagging as a live blogger so no notes made of this presentation] 

11:05-11:30    TEA/COFFEE
   Session II – Chair:Beck Pit
11:30-11:55 Annika Wolff

Smart tourists: Using mobile technology to close the gap between physical and conceptual neighbourhoods across cultural points of interest

  • Or “Mobile Technology to Support Tourism”
  • Museum  narratives:
    • – regions within the museum with a  thematic coherence
    • – temporal relationships
    • – conceptual path based
    • – notion of conceptual proximity
  • City Narratives
    • – things are more haphazard (cities have developed organically)
    • – physical coherence (you visit the place that is closest but not necessarily thematically related)
    • – e.g. Shakespeare and Stratford upon Avon but people also visit things not related to Shakespeare
  • Mobile devices can support tourist by:
    • – location services
    • – personalised tours and advise
    • (but people don’t necessarily want to be told where to go!)
    • – propose conceptual tour guide
      • how are things within the city related to each other (but no directive as to where to go)
  • Studies:
    • – 4 Square data – next venue checking data used to create
      • Bath, York and Stratford upon Avon (finding walking distances from Google Maps)
      • People have fairly predictable behaviour – usually nearest place next
      • Next phase to investigate conceptual coherence
    • – Control study (in Ambient Lab) investigating how guides effect behaviour
      • Virtual tour guides using QR codes
      • Preliminary results – 15/20 chose linear route; wanted to know how places were related; wish list for relationships
  • Summary:
    • – Physical and conceptual paths don’t align in city tours
    • – Tourists want to know how places are related but don’t necessarily want (or benefit from) following a physical coherent route
    • – Can be supported in discovering a city’s narratives through a conceptual tour guide

Brief question time 

11:55-12:20 Trevor Collins

Enabling innovation in technology-enhanced learning through co-research

[This presentation not noted because I had business elsewhere in the university]

12:20-12:45 Andrew Brasher, Ann Jones, Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Mark Gaved, Eileen Scanlon, Lucy Norris

Designing and evaluating incidental learning

[This presentation not noted because I had business elsewhere in the university]

12:45-13:10 Mark Gaved, Richard Greenwood, Alice Peasgood

Location triggered language learning using beacons

[This presentation not noted because I had business elsewhere in the university]

13:10-14:00    LUNCH
   Session III – Chair:Liz Fitzgerald
14:00-14:25 Bea de los Arcos, Rob Farrow, Beck Pitt, Martin Weller

Building Understanding of Open Education: An Overview of the Impact of OER on Teaching and Learning

  • OER Hub – The Hewlett Foundation funded
  • Do people use OER differently than other online materials?
  • Data:
    • – Quantitative and qualitative used is dialogue
    • – 20+ surveys
    • – 60+ interviews
    • – Large-scale survey- 7498 respondents from 182 countries
    •  – 11% declare a disability
  • Does OER improve student performance and satisfaction?
    • – 40-50% respondents think yes
  • To what extent does “open” make a difference?
    • – 80% educators adapt OER to their needs
    • – 38% create their own resources
    • – but only 15% share them online with an open licence
    • – 27% have added a resource to a repository
  • Strong evidence that educators more reflective about their teaching when using OER
  • 60-70% students and educators think OER saves students’ money
  • and 45-50% think saves institutions money
  • 89% students us OER because it is free

Brief question time 

14:25-14:50 Lucy Norris, Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Andrew Brasher, Ann Jones, Mark Gaved,

Eileen Scanlon, Jan Jones

Conducting a field trial in Milton Keynes: Lessons from the MApp

[This presentation not noted – cigar break!] 

14:50-15:15 Chris Douce, Dave Mcintyre and Jon William

TT284 Web Technologies: The tutor’s experience

  • Module teaches something of the “magic” behind the WWW
  • 4 Blocks from basics of HTML to Web Architecture, Mobile Content and Applications, and Managing Web Development Projects
  • Case studies based on running (as a sport)
  • Objective – to understand the tutor’s experience
    • – to identify their challenges
    • – to understand the connections between the different module levels
  • Methodology
    • – interviews with 14 interviews – but the tutors wrote the interview questions
    • – (had underestimated how hard qualitative research is!)
  • Initial findings
    • – “they would not shut up!”
    • – two types of students – little experience and lots of experience
    • – opportunity to develop skills in practice based computer programming – debugging, coding, algorithms,control structures, etc.
    • Block 2:
      • Javascript, PHP, SQL
      • Regular expressions
    • Not enough context about PHP (i.e. content management systems)
    • Mobile app tool (AppInventor) “an unnecessary diversion”
    • OU Live – differences of opinions and experience
    • In Manchester there is a cluster of Tutors working together
    • Using OU live to demonstrate code – shared screen
    • Using OU Live to record videos (how tos)
    • “Difficult to get students speaking” to each other – tactic stay silent or have an opener
    • iCMAs could be helpful
    • Generally like the tutor notes
    • Module teams really responsive

Brief question time 

15:15-15:35  TEA/COFFEE
15:35-16:00 Session IV – Chair: Canan Blake

Chris Edwards, Maria Luisa Perez Cavana

Improving language learning and transition into second language learning, through the Language Learning Support Dimensions (LLSD)

[This presentation not noted because I had business elsewhere in the university]


16:00-16:25 Elaine Thomas, Leonor Barroca, Helen Donelan, Karen Kear, Jon Rosewell

Diverse approaches to using online ‘studio’ based learning in Open University modules

[This presentation not noted because I had business elsewhere in the university]

16:25-16:45 Summary and End of Day 2

Disabled students in Japanese Higher Education – a time for change

The Open University of Japan (OUJ) hosts an annual international symposium on matters relating to higher education.  This year the theme was supporting disabled students in this context and in particular the role of ICT here.  [See:] This is timely because the Japanese Act on the Elimination of Disability Discrimination was enacted in 2013. From 2016, this means public universities are legally obliged to provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities, while private universities are expected to make diligent efforts to provide this for them.  The Japanese’s own perception is that they are about 30 years behind the USA and UK in this regard.  The symposium consisted of a presentation from the host organisation and four invited speakers, two from the USA, a Japanese leader in the field and myself from the UK.  Each presented on key themes from which the delegates from across the Japanese higher education sector could reflect and draw from in their own context.  Disabled students are currently very under-represented in Japanese higher education; in fact the Open University in the UK alone has more disabled students studying with it than across the whole of the higher education across Japan.

This blog posts discusses some of the lessons I learnt from this my first visit to Japan and impressions I gained.  It is the beginning of an exciting period in Japan that should see an increase in the representation of disabled people in the university student body and significant enhancements in the provision of appropriate support for them.

The numbers game

Takeo Kondo, of the University of Tokyo, gave some detail of the current situation in Japanese higher education and compared it with the USA and the UK.

The official 2014 published statistics showed Students with Disabilities (SWDs) in Japanese Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) numbered 13,449 out of 3,213,518 (0.42% out of all students including undergraduate and graduate students). [JASSO, 2014]

This was compared with  U.S figures for undergraduates in 2009 of  10.8% (19,155,000 out of 2,076,000) [US GAO, 2009];

and the UK figures  of SWDs among the 740,000 first year students enrolled in higher education in 2012 as 73,000 (9.8%). [HESA, 2014]

At the Open University in the UK  in 2013/14 there were over 18,000 undergraduate students declaring a disability: more than 14% of all OU undergraduates. [Internal Data]

The symposium chair, Prof. Hirose, stated that in 2013, there were 90,154 students studying with the Open University in Japan, of whom 698 had declared a disability (0.77%):

  • Visual impairment: 168 students
  • Hearing impairment: 32 students
  • Physically handicapped & sickly individuals (sic): 331 students
  • Others: 167 students

There needs to be some care when comparing such statistics as different classifications of disability may have been used. Further, all these figures are based on self-declaration of disability.  There may be cultural reasons why less disabled students declare their disability at Japanese universities and certainly, with much more limited support currently available for them, there is less incentive for them to do so.  Why declare a disability if it makes no difference to the university’s provision of support?

However, even given these caveats it is clear that SWDs are significantly underrepresented in Japanese higher education compared with the USA and the UK, maybe by a factor of 20.   Takeo Kondo’s presentation went on to give data on the changes of the Japanese data over time and a breakdown of the representation of different disability types.

Reflections on discussions

There was a formal discussion panel at the end of the symposium which addressed selected questions that had been submitted in writing during the day.  The fact that far more questions were submitted than could be addressed in the time was indicative of the delegates concern for the topic.  The speakers had spent 3 hours the previous day having a tour of the Open University of Japan and in less structure discussion with about 10 of their staff.  This section summarises and comments on key themes that arose in both these contexts.

Both from the organisers of the symposium and the delegates it was obvious there was a high degree of anticipatory anxiety about what the change in law means they need to do and whether they have the means to do it.  This could be compared to a commonly expressed anxiety in UK HEIs when the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was extended to include education with the coming into effect of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) in 2001.  As well as anxiety about what needs to be done and how to do it there is also an anxiety about how this will be funded.

It was noted that the pedagogic models of the Open University in Japan and the Open University in the UK were very different.  The former is much more of a transmission of expertise style.  There is little discussion between students and lecturers and they do not deploy tutors.  This has significant implications for how support is best offered to disabled students.  At the OU in the UK if a student with disabilities encounters particular problems it is likely to be their tutor that first aware of this.

The difference in disabled student numbers between Japan and the UK or USA is very marked.  More research would be needed to fully understand this.  Certainly the historical lack of provision of support is a factor.  However other factors may be more significant.  One area here is the impact of the Japanese school system.  From the brief discussions had this appears very proscriptive both in terms of curriculum and style of teaching.  There is a strong emphasis on tradition skills such as well-formed hand writing of Japanese characters.  It appears that if for any reason a school pupil does not fit into this well, which might be because of a disability, they are likely to fall behind educationally and not develop aspirations to go onto higher education.

Concluding Comments

The law is seen very much as a driver for change.  This may well be the case and it was a factor in the enhancement of provision for disabled students in the UK following SENDA in 2001.  However law alone will not affect a substantive change.   Meeting the agenda of widening participation of higher education to be more inclusive of disabled people will have to become part of the value system of Japanese HEIs.  It is going to require a commitment beyond meeting of the letter of the law.  It will need institutional change not just the setting up of specialist support units.  The Japanese perceive themselves to be 30 years behind the USA and UK.  However, it need not take them 30 years to catch-up if there is the political will to affect change throughout the educational system.  I mean to maintain a watching brief on this transition and hopefully undertake some detailed research on it with Japanese colleagues.


HESA, 2014 – Higher Education Statistics Agency (2014) Statistical First Release 197: 2012/13 first year students by Disability.

JASSO, 2014 – Japan Student Services Organization (2014) Fact finding survey on supporting higher educational opportunities for students with disabilities (in Japanese)

US GAO, 2009 – U.S. Government Accountability Office (2009) HIGHER EDUCATION AND DISABILITY  Education Needs a Coordinated Approach to Improve Its Assistance to Schools in Supporting Students



JISC Digital Festival – Notes (Day 2)

I have spent most of the morning interacting with reps of the various exhibitors here.  Now to rest my legs I have settled down in Hall 1 for the keynote by  Sugata Mitra, Prof. Of Educational Technology at Newcastle University.

Notes from Keynote

Sugata was the originator of the ‘Hole in the Wall Experiment‘. He plans to review the last 15 years of work and review trends.

The hole in the wall experiment

ATM like computer  in a hole in the wall. They (the slum kids in New Dehli) did not know English and the interfaces were in English. Street children were browsing within 6 to 8 hours and teaching each other.  Conclusion groups of children left with a computer would reach the level of the average office secretary in the West in about 9 months. [Video shown of this work].

The children’s achievement of their proficiency happened because not despite of the absence of an adult teacher/supervisor.  After 4 to 5 months the teachers reported that their English was much improved. Discovered they were using a search engine to find quality content and copying it down on to paper. Question – why we’re they copying down the right things?  They seemed to know what they were writing.  Then gave them educational objects.  Working in groups they seemed to be able to locate the right information and select it.  Groups of children could reach educational objectives of their own if they wished to. People supposed that when got to in depth learning or skills acquisition they would need human intervention. However, could not find the limits of this learning.

In England turned the hole in the wall upside down. Created the chaotic environment of the hole in the wall inside the clasroom with just a few computers. Made up some rules: free discussion and free movement allowed. In period 2008-2010 this led to the descriptor of self- organising learning events. E.g. For 7 year-olds “why is a polar bears coat white”.  Given the the choice between a hard and easy question the children opted for the harder questions. They were able to do GCSE questions about 6 to 7 years ahead of time. Called these Self Organising Learning Environments (SOLE).

In other countries around the world similar results.  C.F emergent phenomena or self ordering or spontaneous order in the Natural Sciences.  Tested limit of this method in Southern India. Research Question: can 11 year-olds learn the process of DNA replication?  Experiment was a failure but the students self studied why DNA replication sometime went wrong causing disease.  Pre and post testing showed those working 10 years ahead of their time. Used a non scientist and the method of the grandmother.  Using an older adult to stand behind and encourage.

[Slides: Schools in the cloud]

Constructing 7 pilots trying to level the playing field in primary education comparing India with UK.


Experience with older students?  – Used to think method applied to ages 6 to 14 but beginning to show that it is not restricted to this. Experiences reported with 16-18 year olds, in FE and he is using SOLE approaches in his university courses.

Random Quotes from JISC Digital Festival 2014

Here are a few random quotes I noted down while at the JISC Digital Festival 2014 in Birmingham this week. Apologies for when I didn’t note who said them.

Academics need to stay on top of the analytics movement and not get pushed around by it!

A related to the above:

How does technology get used in research -> What is this new “big data” and what can (can’t) it tell us?
[Prof. David Rowe, Oxford University]

From a different perspective:

Research and Teaching have now diverged at the Universities
[On Twitter]

From the presentation by the originator of the “Hole in the Wall Experiment!:

Children will learn to do what they want to learn to do!
[Sugata Mitra, Prof. Of Educational Technology at Newcastle University]

I will add to these as I review the archived talks that I did not attend which you can do by going to:

All Learning Theories are severely limited (“crap”)!

The following is a copy of my post in an interesting Facebook thread on Learning Theories

What Learning Theories try to model is nigh on impossible given the current state of our knowledge. We don’t understand how memory in the human brain works – from a cybernetics background I favour Neural Network models of memory and learning but our artificial Neural Networks are incredibly simple compared with the human brain. Philosophically learning raises the whole Mind and Body question. Some argue this does not exist or is solved but I maintain we have little idea of how the mind is really embodied. Further learning is much more than just memory – it sits within social and cultural contexts and is dependent on those. Then there is the whole issue of how we receive and perceive learning. We do this through our senses but Descartes et. al. taught us that we can not trust our senses – yet we still manage to learn through them. This raises the issue of Learning Styles already mentioned by Mark Childs. To my view Learning Styles are belief systems – memes if you like – and have little grounding in empirical science; yet there is a grain of truth in what they try to set forward. We learn differently through our different senses and individuals may have a preference for learning through one sense over another. In summary the brain is the most complex thing in the universe known to man – we kid ourselves if we think we understand how it works. Learning Theories are thus gross over-simplifications but if we accept that they can have their uses; but don’t ever think they come close to modelling what really goes on in the human mind when we learn. That all being said I have a soft spot for Diana Laurillard‘s conversational model – I give a brief account of this in the following blog post:

What have we learnt? – Transmitting knowledge, facilitating learning c1960-2010

29 November 2011, 10:30-15:30

The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA

Blog Post Introduction

I singed up for this seminar not because I expected that there would be a lot of content of direct relevance to my work on access to higher education (HE) for disabled students but because I think in all contexts it is important to know our histories.  Well my knowledge of the history of post war UK-based HE was greatly increased beyond my own experience of it, which begun in 1979, and a general awareness from current affairs coverage.  Then above that there were important highlights of direct relevance to my work.   The most notable being in all reports of studies of the experience of students in HE, there seems to be a total dearth of studies specifically looking at the experience of disabled students.

This fact is going to be both a challenge and an opportunity in a research project planned for next year looking at specifically the experience of Open University (OU) disabled students studying online.  It looks as if there is going to be much less work than I anticipated that we can draw on to contextualise what original research we can do within the scope of an internal project.   For OU colleagues this work is planned as part of the “Completing the Loop” project.

This blog consists of the title and abstract for each presentation taken from the official publicity available at: (Some readers may be interested in exploring other content on that blog of the History of The Open University project).  Then my bullet point notes of the presentation and discussions from most sessions.  My notes are in blue to differentiate them.  At a later date I will post another blog entry reflecting on the points of direct relevance to my work.  There should be a “pingback” in the comments below giving the link to this entry once I publish it.

Introduction (from the published programme)

Higher education has played a significant role shaping our culture and our social, religious, ideological and political institutions. Since the Second World War, in common with other western societies, the UK developed mass higher education from an élite format. New universities opened and existing institutions became polytechnics and later universities. In 1969 the Open University provided a new form of higher education institution. The existing universities developed new student bases and students engaged with a variety of communities

This one-day forum, organised by the History of The Open University project, brings together a range of experts to discuss elements of the history of higher education over 50 years.

The morning session will ask how have students been taught, looking at the move from traditional lectures and tutorials to the use of new technologies, a variety of pedagogies and the development of student-centred learning.

The afternoon session will reflect on 50 years of the student experience, placing learners’ perspectives at the centre.

Opening remarks:

Dr Dan Weinbren, History of the OU Project

  • How university learning has changed over last 50 years – exploring roots of changes towards a more helpful account
  • The importance of learners
  • Change in no. of students
  • Change in the range of students
  • Focus change – teaching to learning
  • Shift in nature of learning
  • New methods
  • Greater separation between research and learning
  • Team / multi-skill teaching
  • Shift in political landscape
  • Public purpose
  • Support of the nation
  • Root to stable social democracy
  • Contrast to limited training for a static labour market of Communism
  • Towards a human right
  • Globalisation
  • Quasi-markets and hollowed out state sector

How have students been taught?

Chair/commentator: Prof Mary Thorpe, The Open University

The doubts expressed about the equivalence of degrees from some universities compared to others have often been framed in terms of teaching methods. Others have promoted the validity and efficiency of a variety of methods including broadcasting, correspondence, telephone and online self-help groups. This session aims to promote discussion about how we understand the development of the current interest in student-centred learning.

Widening Participation: the post-war scorecard

Prof Malcolm Tight, Lancaster University.


Widening participation – though it has only recently been labelled as such – has been a continuing concern for policy makers and higher education institutions in the United Kingdom since 1945 (and before). This presentation will review the evidence for four key target groups – women, lower socio-economic groups, mature adults and ethnic minorities – to produce an overall assessment, a score card, of what has been achieved, and what remains to be done. It concludes that, while progress in the recruitment of women, mature adults and ethnic minorities has been substantial – though with some qualifications – it has been much less for lower socio-economic groups.



  • Longest standing concerns about participation in HE
  • Post WW2 uninterrupted progress in women’s participation – now arround 60%  – the problem now is men  😉
  • Problem of representation in STEM disciplines (only partially true e.g. not in biology and medicine but yes in physics, chemistry and engineering)
  • Under represented at highest levels
So fairly positive!
Ethnic minorities
  • More recent concern
  • Not as under represented as think but issues for particular minorities and gender/ethnicity issues
  • Concentrated at particular institutions (urban newer universities)
  • Although done well their experience is different
Mature Adults
  • Long history 1870s or before
  • Only became a group of focus in 1970s/80s
  • Close relation between mature study and part-time study
People from lower socio-economic backgrounds
  • A concern for a long time (mid C19th)
  • Do so much a tale of discrimination but the structures they live in (e.g. get away from education to get a job)
  • When attend tend to have different experience
  • Where universities could be said to fall down most
  • Not really catching up
Giving the sector a mark: Women 5/5,  Ethnic 3.5-4/5,  Mature Adults 3/5,  Lower socio-economic groups 1/5
We need non-graduates as well!
What further might we do?
NB – Disability did not appear as an issue in the literature until 1980s so not included in above analysis.
[I would like to check that out further]
Oxbridge still seen as a norm.
Widening participation vs widening access

Supporting isolated remote learners

Prof Judith George, The Open University


This presentation focuses on the challenge of meeting the needs of learners in the remote and isolated communities in Scotland, and the needs of ALs (tutors) on the ground who supported them:

  • developing structures of support which met affective as well as cognitive needs
  • the use of technologies as they came on stream
  • developing tools for confident professionalism for the equally isolated ALs (tutors)
  • the use of action research to evaluate innovation
  • creative interactions with the wider educational context and a developing identity for the OU in Scotland.

This was a period of great change in adult education in Scotland; the Alexander report on community education, for example, the Scottish Committee on Open Learning, pilot work on credit rating and transfer, the impact of nationalism and local demands for university provision – leading to the creation of the University of the Highlands and Islands, and of the Dumfries Crichton Campus provision.  The OU played a significant role in all this, building a distinctive identity and making a unique contribution within Scotland and the wider educational context.

Presentation not noted (but very interesting)

Discussion points:
  • Increase of technology (internet) does not seem to have increased reach  – but many remote areas can not yet receive broadband.
  • Also strong link to local cultures re: comparison with University of Highlands and Islands (is UHI a success?)
  • Everybody is a remote learner
  • Radio is underused (OU now only uses it as it does TV  – not specifically course linked)

‘Redrawing the Map of Learning’? The Experience at the First Plateglass University

Prof Fred Gray, University of  Sussex


The University of Sussex, given its Royal Charter in August 1961, was the first ‘plateglass’ university. Five decades ago it was seen as part of ‘the greatest single expansion of higher education England has  ever known’.Sussexand the other new universities that followed it depended on critical elements of state intervention.

There was substantial new government funding for universities and students. And in place of the old apprenticeship system of university colleges controlled by the older and established universities, the new institutions began life as full universities – hence the Royal Charter – conferring their own degrees, ‘controlling their own curriculum and free to experiment as they think right’.

These new possibilities and freedoms allowed universities such as Sussex to innovate. To use the phrase of the first Vice-Chancellor, John Fulton, the Sussex mission was about ‘making the future’ for students and society by developing a radical new curriculum based on interdisciplinarity and using new organisational forms (departments were dispensed with). The purpose was to ‘provide undergraduates with the combined benefits of specialized and general education’. Asa Briggs, the driving force behind the developments at Sussex, saw this as ‘redrawing the map of learning’. But Sussex also drew on elements of higher education orthodoxy and could never (even if it had wanted to) throw off the tag of being ‘Balliol By The Sea’.

Just what was done at Sussex? What was the impact on students and faculty? How do we measure the success of the Sussex experiment? And how did the experiment change over time?

  • Focus on 10 years period
  • Sussex first post-war university
  • Postwar consensus – labour and conservative – re-construction after the war
  • HE should expand for family aspirations / international competition / to educate managers for new Wealthy State
  • “Education as the new universal religion” [Fulton VC Sussex]
  • Importance of HE to Brighton’s regeneration
  • Campus based – transforming landed estates c.f. York and even OU
  • Royal Charter critically important – degree awarding powers – control content of degrees
  • Backed by substantial Government funding / and funding of Students!!!
What happened at Sussex?
  • Focus on students, little focus on research
  • Prospectus – generalised and specialised
  • Great quotes from David Diaches and Asa Briggs (sorry not noted)
  • Radical elements – new curriculum – abandoned faculties, interdisciplinary
  • “Balliol by the Sea” [Times] copied from Oxford – tutorial and essay based
  • “Be still and know” motto
  • Sussex students selected and self selecting
  • Early interest in what we now call “widening participation”
  • Growth 3,000 – 12,000 students
  • Scientists not interesting in the tutorial model
  • Disciplinary strength threatened Sussex model
  • Research funding unsympathetic
  • The post war consensus eroded

TV broadcasts: the public face of OU teaching – what did we learn over three decades?

Prof Andy Northedge, The Open University


Three decades of Open University TV broadcasts present a kind of family album, offering fascinating glimpses of the university’s growth and development as it learned the craft of distance teaching in full public view. We see the various faculties working out how to use television to teach, how to design compelling programmes and how to speak to students in their own homes. The History of The Open University project commissioned a review of thirty OU TV programmes, spanning the 1970s, 80s and 90s to provide an overview of the range and variety of broadcasts and the ways they changed over the years. The review reveals rich variety, sharp contrasts and impressive ability to adapt and develop. This presentation will offer selected highlights and some general conclusions.

  •  Presentation based on lots of video samples so not noted.
Link to full report on History of  OU blog site:

What’s it like to be a student? Reflections on fifty years of change

Chair/commentator: Prof David Vincent, The Open University

Having considered the changes in how learning was supported over half a century, the emphasis this afternoon will be on reception. Some of the themes of the morning will be revisited but from different perspectives.

Students in places: general and particular

Prof Harold Silver


What the research on students and higher education (HE) tells us and does not tell us, e.g. history of sectors and structures, institutions, change and reputations.

Meanings of student ‘experience’: expectations, perceptions (what kind and of what), the learning environment, outcomes, identities.

Students, HE, Elites, leaders, participants, professionals, occupations.   Examples from 1960s – Robbins, Latey, choices, new universities, towards the OU, student movements – and late/end/turn of century, e.g. CNAA, polytechnics, colleges, policies and spokespersons

Types of research on students (UK, US) and categories of students (full/part-time, mature, gender, ‘adolescent’), persistence, success and failure, social class, statistics and people. A particular case – students with disabilities.

Possible implications for the history of students in contexts (competition, marketing, policy….) and the history of the OU.

  • A shame nothing said so far about outside UK
  • Will mention some American research but will not be talking about America
  • Focus on the experience of students
  • How do we know the aim, and perspectives of students
  • What do you know, how do you know it?
  • Talk mainly about research on the student experience (an apology)
  • Begins with the Robins report (admirable descriptor of students in HE in – 1963)
  • Hale Committee on Teaching and Learning in University (1963) did not get the publicity but v. good.
  • Most important of many discussions in 1960s: Peter Marris, “The Experience of Higher Education” (1964)
  • “While the growth of higher education has questioned its aims the aims of its students remain unconsidered.”
  • In 1968, 3 years after Warwick University opened students reported valuing an independent university in contrast to state organised polytechnic sector
  • 37 years later “What’s a former polytechnic and why is it so bad?” – Quote from an Internet chat site
  • What research can we identify as being important?
  • 1960s students in their “deferred adulthood”
  • Later adulthood on political agenda
  • Student hostility to exclusion from the academic side of the university (part of 1960s radicalism not often highlighted)
  • Students in the 1970 perceived as having lost their idealism
  • Students anxiety about their learning processes – they want to succeed, feel their views need to be taken account of
[Some of presentation not noted]
Concluding point:
NB  – the published research almost totally does not ask of disabled students their views and aims!  Talks about support but not the student perspective!
[MC to check with research from Leeds, Southampton, John Richardson’s work, etc.]

Internationalisation and the University of Nottingham

Prof John Beckett,University of Nottingham


The Times has described the University of Nottingham as being ‘the closestBritainhas to a truly global university’. The University first began to consider developing international campuses, rather than simply attracting overseas students to study in Nottingham, in the early 1990s. The need to attract overseas students in a competitive market came together with an internationalisation strategy involving both teaching and research. By 2006, two campuses in Asia had been established, in Malaysia and China, and today Nottingham recruits more international students than any other UK university. This paper will examine internationalisation in terms of curriculum, teaching and student experience with particular reference to the campus at Ningbo, China, and will consider also the extent to which the UK higher education model has been successfully implemented in China. It will also address the question of inter-cultural understanding and the development of an international focus in teaching and learning for home students at Nottingham.

  • Not noted

Student Community Action and Social Education, c. 1970-1985

Dr Georgina Brewis, Institute of Education


Student volunteering in the UK has a long history, from university settlements and missions in the nineteenth century to workcamps for the unemployed in the interwar period to CND protesting and Student Community Action (SCA) after the Second World War. However, there has generally been greater historical interest in the more overtly ‘political’ activities of students, ignoring other forms of social action that have shaped students’ lives. This paper will show that a study of student volunteering, fundraising or campaigning can deepen our understanding of the changing ‘student experience’ in late-twentieth century Britain. Based on Student Community Action publications and a witness seminar with the movement’s former leaders, this paper will focus on SCA and its contribution to the social education of university students in the 1970s and 1980s. It explores the educative function of participation for students themselves, arguably of greater value than students’ contributions to local communities. It shows how involvement in SCA was connected to a wider critique of the function of universities and course content, contributing to debates about broadening access to higher education.

  • Drawing on students own words and own writing
  • In UK little formal citizenship programmes (different from USA)
  • Student movements shape youth culture more broadly
  • Successive generations of students seek to distance themselves from the previous generations
  • Overseas volunteering schemes emerged in 1950s – impact on their return to university on subsequent volunteering
  • 1960s radicalism – wider questioning of the value of higher education – student volunteering used in these arguments
  • Boundaries between fundraising, volunteering and activism blurred from late 1960s on
Notes on Student Community Action:
Course content:
  • SCA demanded changes in course content
  • Role of social studies
  • View that volunteering in past had been separate from studies and this was a cause of failing
  • Students questioning if courses relevant to the social needs they become aware of through SCA

Community relations

  • Students express acute awareness of separation from surrounding community and the demands the university put on them
  • How about making university resources/facilities available to the community?
Educative function for participation in SCA:
  • Awareness raising remains essential
  • Skills development, project management, etc.
Cross curriculum volunteering modules developed across many universities not just pre 97
  • Controversial – not proper volunteering; not proper learning

Distances and distance technologies. A review of rhetoric and reality

Dr Janet Macdonald, Higher Education Consultant


How successful have distance technologies been at meeting the challenges of study at a distance?  To what extent has the rhetoric met the reality of life as a distance learner?  The OU has a long and proud history of deploying distance technologies to support learners and has developed a wonderful array of online tools with the potential to extend traditional methods of distance learning into new and exciting territory.  This presentation will focus on the student experience of learning with distance technologies over the past few years, drawing on studies of the practicalities, joys and perils of life as a distance student.

Janet has 20 years’ experience as a tutor of remote students, a remote research student studying student perspectives on online learning, and finally from working with fellow staff in a “remote” national centre at the OU in Scotland. She has now retired from the OU and undertakes consultancy in online and distance learning.

  • 1985 – OU guide to communicating remotely – including telephone techniques
  • Horizon Reports – forecast emerging technologies however …
  • So much depends on the context
  • What do students need to do
  • What are the constraints
  • What do the technologies enable?
  • Reading and listening (large number OU courses still using print)
  • Some students find electronic format particularly helpful
  • Online quizzes one way making sense of content
  • But depends on people writing the module for seeing the issues
  • What do tutors do? e.g. history tutors very different from maths tutors
  • When is staff student contact important (e.g. the tricky parts of the course? – How technology and or face-to-face used facilitate this?)
  • 1990 “No new conference messages” in online tutor groups
  • Development of plenary groups – Module wide – a Major headache for staff – too many messages – no one knows who is not taking part
  • Peer groups have grown up on university networks and Facebook etc.
  • Use what is appropriate to the context
  • Students can be in touch with Alumni
  • Note-takeing – old lecture theatres might not accommodate laptops
  • Fulminating from George Orwell on writing by cut and paste (1946!):

George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language” 1946

… modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy.” 

  • Searching and researching user generated content is not new – example of Chinese ancient annotation on poetry
  • Online systems made a big difference to how much students are exposed to – but behoves to us to remember that an awful lot is to be learnt from what has already happened with past technologies/approaches that is applicable.
Much to reflect on – not time to reflect or note reflection now – but I will revisit this.

Notes from TEDx London 17 Sep 2011: The Education Revolution

[I will be attempting to live blog notes throughout the day]

MC – My own questions and comments preceded by “MC”

Link to the event website with more details on the programme, speakers, etc.:

14:45 Session 1 – Hosted by Marcus Davey

What’s wrong?

A video introduction from Sir Ken Robinson

Direction for conversations:

Roundhouse cultural and political history

Why need a revolution?

Misused by politicians but need to get back to basics – politicians often talk about what their school experience was

Economic – education has powerful roles in growth and sustainability – but economies have changed

Cultural – students need to understand their own culture and identity but also to understand others

Personal – about people – lots of people dropping out of education – governments attempts to control education impede the addressing of the personal

All need for theatre is an actor in a space and an audience – parallel for education is what is needed is the relationship between the teachers and the learners

Core principles:

Education has to be personalised

Education has to be customised to the student’s context

Diversity – the drive to standardisation offends the principle of diversity – human life is inherently diverse and we need to celebrate that in education

Education needs to be a partnership with societies institutions

No more important conversation than how we transform education for the 21 century!

What’s happening?

Adam Roberts – Campaigner

Youth campaigner

The importance of questioning – of being critical

Young children are natural critical thinkers

Teenager – asking why am I learning this – often dismissed

Education revolution needs to come about throughout the way we assess children

Goal of education is independence

We don’t need more knowledge but more critical thinking

Questions are important

Tolerate a child’s willingness to think critically and engage them!

Georgia Allis Mills – School Student

I learn’t most this morning and haven’t been anywhere near school!

Education is a very loaded word.

Is learning waste of time – why are we learning things we don’t need to know in late life e.g.

Simultaneous equations

MC – some need to know those – I have used them – how do we best decide “what young people need to know”?

Goldie (video) – Artist, DJ and Actor

The education system is very old fashioned

“What I learnt in education was punctuality”

I learnt from good mentors in the real world – completely different from the way learning is organised in school

I am still learning every day

I knew what I wanted to see but did not know how to get there – that is what we need to give to kids

Carmel McConnell – Social Activist

Magic Breakfast – fuel for learning

Educational value:

In UK 1,000s of children can not access their education because they are hungry

1 in 4 children – only hot food they get is food they get at school

Magic breakfast improves attainment, punctuality, …

Dan Roberts – Teacher

Self confessed geek

Example from his own Maths lessons –

Exercise by exercise from books

Copying off board

Example of upside down calculator entries to spell funny or rude words – creative but not approved of by teachers

Technology can engage – can make life long learners – if users properly!

(Stories not noted)

The egg cam – free range chickens

Teleconferencing to Indonesia rebroadcast to their national TV – mass audience inspired kids Enable – web app

What will maths lesson be in 2021?

Allowing students to use technology in amazing ways but some schools tend to ban and block!


The Baker Brothers – Musicians

16:50 Session 2 – hosted by Adjoa Andoh

“Education dislocating people from their natural talent” – Ken Robinson

What’s right?

Nick Stanhope – CEO

Every spot on the planet has a vast extent of history behind it!

Can be represented as points on a map but need a 4th dimension

Overlaying old photos onto their modern equivalent

How scale up?

Dynamic mapping tools

Historic pictures onto street view

Moving comparative mapping

Making history an immersive experience

The important roles that schools play in capturing this history

Value on both sides – kids and older propel with their memories

Invitation to all schools batting involved!

Max Whitby – Filmmaker & Scientist

Theme of talk – floating

Apps for Touch Press

Very good demo floating a foil boat on dense gas but didn’t say what it was MC – frustrating to me!

Evan Grant – Creative Technologist
Arts and technology collective Seeper

Explored use of motion sensing technology firs typed to give access to music with kids with autism – created a sensory school. Immersive interactive technologies!


Geoff Stead – Education Technologist

Sophie Bosworth – Student

Alternative paths to University

The ideas foundation

Education that prepares for after education:


Vocational education viewed as second class

Too many students not able to distinguish themselves after university to show what they are offering the word of work

Creativity is a cycle … Peddle it!

Professor Ken Spours – Professor of Education

Education is arguable the most important thing societies do!

Education is too important! …

To be treated as a political football

Complete absence of policy memory – no willingness to learn from the past.

A real revolution in the English system will mean agreement and acting in a different way


We should start by agreeing about out values

Everybody counts everybody can think and do

A law of care


Leave the world of “verses” and move to the world of “and”

We need to think ecologically about food

C.f Bruce from Finding Nemo

We need a Hypocratic oath for education:

The micro educational level of the learner

A dedication to the area

Politicians offer real leadership by giving power away!

Warning: if we do not take this line we will not see the good ideas we have seen today permeate our schools!


Tim Exile – Musicial, Performer and Developer

19:00 Session 3 – hosted by Steve Munday

Head teacher – how many messages you get telling you what to do!

Technology future can scare people in schools – but it must be embraced

What’s next?

Scott Snibbe – Artist, Filmmaker & Researcher

iPad Apps:

Bubble Harp

Use patters of nature to model something new – what maths was invented for

Work with Bork

(Too visual a presentation to note)

Ewan McIntosh – Entrepreneur

“What did you make at school today?”

Problem based learning – what we need is problem finders

Divergent thinking is where the future lies – need a bit of convergent thinking at the end to pull things together

Pledge – wants to engage 10,000 learners in problem finding curriculum

Emily Cummins – Inventor

Grandad taught to to design and work with wood while primary aged

This country would still be using the abacus if children had not taught their parents

Designed a toothpaste dispenser for other grandad – entered for technology competition

Invented a fridge for developing countries – open sourced it!

Why are we not using young people’s imagination and then trusting them?

Dougald Hine – Writer and Creator
A new kind of university

Life shaped by a university in exile who escaped higher ED because of where it was going

University promise:

Places dedicated to knowledge

We underestimate how little people change from century to century


The university of openness

Pick me up

The school of everything

Learning is not a commodity to be exchanged

Talking about first life not second life

The temporary school of thought

Let’s recycle Woolworths


A DIY spirit and a culture of reflection

John Geraci quote

The Edgeless University – Demos

Hub Westminster

“I want to start a University”

Happening in many places

14-16Oct 2011 universities Past and Present (check out)

Jude Kelly OBE – Artistic Director

What does the future hold?

A review of inspirational women in the arts

Motivated by a burning sense of injustice
Telling of a personal journey

Thinking of changing tack – can only dream for yourself – so what can Southbank Centre do?

“The propaganda of the imagination”

I could be as daring and as bold as my predecessors

Events to date essentially for adults – need to turn this on it’s head

Taxes are there to create a bounty for the future of civilisation

A Call To Action – video message from Sir Ken Robinson

Drivers of change:

Population growth


Rate of change will accelerate

Civilisation is a race between education and catastrophe

We don’t have to reinvent everything – many similar attempts in the past

E.g. Montessori, Piaget … … ….

Personalise curriculum

Intensive relationship between teachers and learners

The principles of all good education not just alternative education

Technologies have their role but are not the whole answer

He pledges his work and his support!

21:35 Event ends

Near Live Blog from the Universal Learning Design 2011 Conference

Logo of Universal Learning Design conferenceI am attending the Universal Learning Design 2011 Conference this week, in Brno, Czech Republic, see: I will attempt a near live blog of the highlights of selected talks and my thoughts on them. Links to the details of each session from the conference programme and live webcasts are given. (I don’t know yet if the webcasts will be made available after the conference.)


Wed, 9 Feb 2011

[all times CET = GMT+1]

09:00 – 09:45

Welcome Addresses
Opening address (in Czech with simultaneous translation) from Jan Svatoň Vice-Rector for Student Welfare and Lifelong Learning of Masaryk University (the host university).  A public university striving to make education accessible to all.  15 years since took first organisational steps towards this.  Providing accessible courses requires commitment from all teaching staff.  Also provides accessible accommodation and meeting other needs.  Committed to continuing to develop this policy.
Making university education accessible is the responsibility of the whole academic world!
Thank you for sharing your experiences!
Second opening address from Zdeněk Škromach, President of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic:
Recognises the leadership of Masaryk University in this field nationally and in Europe.
The creation of a favourable support network very important.  Attitudes in society need to be modified as well as access legislation.
Third opening address (!!!) by Jiří Nantl Director General of the Higher Education Section of the Ministry of Education.
The contribution to legislation, Making higher education is expensive, government support for these additional costs required, planned in Czech Republic for 2012 on.  But most of the job needs to be done by higher education institutions.
The fourth opening address (!!!!) by Václav Krása Chairman of the Czech National Disability Council:
Particularly providing support for people with visual and hearing impairments.  Support for disabled students at tertiary level has been lower than at school age education and this is a major barrier to equality in employment.
Fifth opening address (!!!!!) by Petr Peňáz Head of the Support Centre for Students with Special Needs of Masaryk University:
Quote from university senate minuets before the centre was founded: “Member of academic senate: Please tell me do the other universities establish such centres as well? – Rector: yes they do, at least one does” – represents the hesitant initial attitudes.
Welcome and thank yous!


09:50 – 10:20

Universal Design and Disabled Students: From Inclusion to Excellence

Prof. Alan Hurst (Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities, UK)

[Powerpoint on conference website]
Most difficulties encountered created by staff not realising the importance of teaching inclusively.
Want to move away from fighting fires to preventing fires; from reaction to pro-action.
We are all responsible for disabled students if we claim to work in an inclusive institutions.
Course and study programmes need to be barrier free.  We need to anticipate need – therefore less need for individual adjustments.
Universal design:
  1. Shifting from a medical (deficit) model to a social model
  2. Trying to encourage disabled students to live as independently as possible and enable choice
  3. Focus not on equality (treating everybody the same – we are not the same) but on equity (treating fairly).

E.g. Teachability Project in Scotland.

What are the core requirements every student must be able to do?  Then can define reasonable adjustments.

Curriculum requirements

In UK obsession with facilitation of attendance – but UK university doing best for disabled students requires little attendance – The Open University [thanks for the plug Alan!]

What about assessment?  How much scope for flexibility? What information do we give students and how early?  Difference between modified assessment (e.g. additional time) or alternative assessment (e.g assessment in sign language).  Who is responsible fr making assessment arrangements?  It must be a mainstream task to do this not the task of a disability unit.

What about quality?  The role of the professional bodies.  The danger of the “we have always done it that way” syndrome!

Information provision to disabled students before start university – accessibility of web based information systems.

Students participation in social life.  E.g. integrated accommodation.

What about carers guidance, access to higher level study?

The Law

  • Reasonable Adjustments
  • Anticipatory Duties

Good course delivery practice anticipating needs reduces need to reasonable adjustments – cost and time savings!

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) – Code of Practice Part 3 (Disabled Students)

(Examples given but not noted here)

“A law cannot guarantee what a culture will not give” (Mary Johnson 2003)

More important than the law is changing people attitudes.

Evidence of major progress:

When disability services are seen as value added provision  in universities rather than additional institutional expense


11:15 – 11:25

HEAG – A Survey on Accessibility and Universal Design provided by European Higher Education Institutions

Andrea Petz (Johannes Kepler University of Linz)
Klaus Miesenberger (Johannes Kepler University of Linz)

Results of research project HEAG
Institute Integriert Studieren, Linz University
Supporting disabled students since 1991
(In Austria people with dyslexia and learning disabilities not acknowledged in terms of funding)
HEAG – Installed 29 national agencies for gaining information
Supported by EU LLL and Jean Monet
Going abroad as  student an important part of student experience – important for disabled students too!
But a huge amount of reliable up-to-date information needed
What did
Core Issues:
Key Data
Available Institute Support
Access to built environment
Support for Teaching and Learning (including exam conditions)
Finance issues
Access to social life
What found
Tower of babel – even 3 different German versions because of variations in technical terms
Different definitions of disability
Difference in structure of HE
Services and funding totally different
Found formal generic data some with contact numbers but little more
Resultant project database available via website:
What is missing is the use of access for disabled students to the information.
See also Study Abroad Without Limits project (no co-operation to date)


13:30 – 14:00

Meaningful Means of Making Universities Accessible and Their Meaning(fulness) in Practice

Petr Peňáz (Teiresias Centre, Masaryk University)

Some Historical Background
Example of historic inclusion of disabled people – e.g. court jesters, painting of Velásquez …
Monumental institutions arose in industrial Europe in 19th century. Lead to development of tactile languages and sign languages.
Impairment was combined with war politics. E.g. Hotel des Invalids in Paris.
Still depending on historic reality and repeating considerations.
Dark side of monumental projects was the everyday reality inside was much worse than their external publicity.  E.g. First criticism of special education known to presenter – Rutebeuf, Les ordes de Paris (1260)
The modern situation
Generally throughout Europe acceptance in policy of information needs of the blind in 1980s and the recognition of sign languages in 1990s.
Different concepts of disabilities with respect to education in different countries.
Demonstration from different concepts uploaded to diffident language versions of Wikipediea [MC: Nice high level demonstration]
Many European countries skipped the technological stage of instructional design.
All encompassing concept of design for all or education all accepted but often with no factual basis
Problematic Stereo types:
  1. We know what special educational needs are? – Issue of individual needs – responses to the needs of different people can conflict. General approaches do not work!
  2. Education offered separately is a sin of our fathers! – Idealistic, ill conceived inclusion can be a step back. Let us not criminalise special separate education
  3. A person with disability is the only arbiter of accessibility – Democratic education principle of Europe.  Let us not delegate to student what should be the role of the professional
  4. The main guarantee of accessibility is that of an educational counsellor – counselling does not cover most part of the service – it directs to the services – network of service providers to be created c.f. networks of counsellors
  5. A personal educational assistant must be provided when counselling is not sufficient. – Let us make sure university’s do not provide personal assistants unless there is evidence for reasons

Meaningful investments in accessible tertiary education conditioned by professional services.  Setting the boundaries between universal design and reasonable adjustments.  Admit what are the tasks of the school and what of the student.  Accept that there are limits to accessibility. Sharing services between schools and creation of servicing networks.

Question from MC on balance between Student and Institution in defining their educational needs and how best met.  Answer – need an offering and then feedback but often teachers ask what should I do for you.  Students often tell stories about their own case but not really facilitate analysis of how needs best met.


16:05 – 16:35

Universal Accessibility of Documents: Workflows and Tools for Efficient Service Provision

Klaus Miesenberger (University of Linz)

16:45 – 17:00

ICT revolution -> Digital media enabling us to present documents in different ways – design for all documents. Conversion to alternative formats. With digital rights management – different business models.

That was the big promise – but! (Holistic approach needs more than just access to documents) Fear from existing service providers not founded.

We are struggling to make fully accessible documents.  Review of documents from publishers shows metadata and structure not there to extract text in a linear form (footnotes, bibliographies, etc.)  Colour used to order text.

Challenge is for new co-operations to efficiently integrate different resources into service provision systems.

Looking towards multi-channel publishing. – Guidelines and examples, in their tool. Conversion to Daisy.  Still no text order.  The publishing process is changing and this defeats the process – handed out to cheapest bidder – not aware of structured documents.

Need to take process into our hands.

Much effort goes into diagrams and the metadata.  Need an efficient work flow.  With Library community METAe project.  Structured content – XML wrappers around OCR documents

Workflow management tool – docWORKS[e]

Image processing supported

Export to existing standards

Working on conversion tools


To be outlined in Access to Documents Sessions but in summary:

End-user devices are changing – e.g. Kindle (lead to changes in publishing process to benefit accessibility)

New Assistive Devices

Publishing Sector is changing

Copyright question – Memorandum of understanding in Europe been signed but not yet in force at national level.

Teaching and Learning is changing – lots of use of electronic material, VLEs, social-networks (see EU4ALL)

New Services – crowd-sourcing, e.g.

No-linear content – maths, chemistry etc.  Further effort needed to come to proper solutions

Pen based interfaces – hand written notes – how to deal with?

Clients are charging – designed for different target groups

Easy to read

Captions and sub-titling – how to extend printed document to multimedia document with video using these?

Lip-reading – how to integrate

From Access to documents -> Total conversion

eAccess+ network – European stakeholder exchange.

A big challenge but no need to fear!

Need holistic approach!

Requires evolving management skills.

Questions: – metadata engine – tool from CCS, Hamburg Germany – metadata created automatically with 85-90% accuracy.


17:35 – 18:05

“Guidelined” and “Principled” Web Content Accessibility – What It Means in Practice of Universities

Ing. Svatoslav Ondra (Teiresias Centre, Masaryk University)

My blogging fingers are flagging but very interesting presentation about provision at Masaryk University which included the provision of specialist IT skills courses for disabled students – this is a big challenge for the Open University made harder by being a distance learning university.


Thur, 10 Feb 2011

[all times CET = GMT+1]

09:00 – 09:10

The Guide to Accessible Digital Content

Afra Pascual (University of Barcelona)
Mireia Ribera (University of Barcelona)
Miquel Térmens (University of Barcelona)
Llúcia Masip (University of Barcelona)
Toni Granollers (University of Barcelona)
José Luís Gonzàlez (University of Barcelona)
Marina Salse (University of Barcelona)
Jorge Franganillo (University of Barcelona)
Bruno Splendiani (University of Barcelona)

Basic Concept:
Accessibility in digital documents benefits everybody
Particular benefits for those with special needs
Poor practice found among teachers
Guide to accessible digital content -13 guidelines
Support to digital content editors
Simple step by step guidance
Chapter organised by document type and editing tools
Templates – with structural guidelines, model of semantic markup to facilitate tagging, use of macros to create alternative version
Doc->Basic Accessible Model->Adapted versions->selection by students
Currently in Testing Stage
Propose to integrate templates into Moodle, translate to different languages, and roll out
Solution for University of Barcelona
Guidelines (Spanish/Catalan) available online:


09:15 – 09:45

Access to Maths and Science for Print Impaired People

Dominique Archambault (University Pierre et Marie Curie)

Always been a problem for visually impaired people – assume blindness does not prevent understanding maths – e.g. some blind mathematicians – currently only the best.
Problem access to the content –
  • Linear nature of speech  and Braille
  • Additional use of graphics to visualise and explain the maths
Consequences  are dramatic – harder for blind children to learn – barriers to science
Example fractions in algebra: representation changes c.f. computer science changing a tree
Braille representation much longer
Different math codes per country developed according to culture of the countries
German formal, French good for simple maths, American built on others but very complex
Ambiguity in interpretation of spoken maths. (ref to US study but detail not given)
E.g. product 1st order algebraic terms – visualisation helps students process the product – same for simplification of fraction
20 years research of group:
reading, understanding,
doing (manipulating, calculating, solving)
Create Braille docs – converters – LeTeX/MathML to different Maths Braille, and visa versa for sighted teachers to read Perkins Braille created by students.  Some work on DAISY and similar features (later presentation)
Universal Maths Conversion Library
(International collaboration) – OS library in C
Based on Canonical MathML
LaTeX to MathML
Outputs to multiple Braille versions including British
Maths Player (Internet Explorer Plug-in)
Layout and some formulas to speech
Will convert to Braille (UMC) – within a few months
dots plus [View Plus]
Provides two-dimensional tactile representation
Paper presentation but can’t manipulate/modify
Anticipate hardware project with dynamic tactile display (e.g. tactile iPad)
Maths Genie [Karshmer]
Formula browser
Set of prototypes extend formula browser approach to Braille – supported by UMC
Research prototype
Lambda Project
Manipulating calculating and solving
Working prototypes
Accessible Maths Documents
Direct Braille limits possibilities
New Software allows conversion MathML to various formats
Use valid MathML representation
Different Solutions depending on situation
Document Design
Accessible format not enough
LaTeX orMathML bust be used appropriately – common practices break accessibility approaches
Need accessible guidles for document creation
Summer School:
Some tools exist
Little knowledge by teachers
Create Hands on workshosp
This year July 29-Aug 3 at Masaryk University


09:50 – 10:20

Accessibility Issues in a Digital Mathematical Library

Petr Sojka (Masaryk University)

Building something like Google Scholar for Maths that is for all but includes Accessible Maths
Mathematicians dream of all mathematical knowledge on a laptop hard drive (2003 project to NSF not funded)
EuDML project pilot recently started 2010:


10:25 – 10:35

odt2daisy: Preparing Accessible Documents at the DTBook Format with

Dominique Archambault (University Pierre et Marie Curie)
Jan Engelen (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)

DAISY now widely used worldwide
DTBook is accessible book format part of DAISY and maintained by its standards
How produce accessible book?
Manual XML, DAISY authoring Software,  Authoring/Production Tools
Produced an extension to Open Office  (OS) [MC comment – it is horrible to use for editing large documents IMHO]
OO has introduced various accessibility features
->LibreOffice (totally free including of rights!)
odt2dtbook is an OO extension developed by University Pierre et Marie Curie then further by University of Leuven in Aiges Prject see:
Includes page numbering – reference original book
Supports maths and alternative content.


11:15 – 11:45

Specific Learning Disorders – Principles for an Equal Opportunity Learning Environment

Prof. Willy Aastrup (The Danish School of Education, Aarhus University)

A learning perspective approach – seeking to go beyond the perspective of accessibly towards usability which implies transformation from social model approach to … (a new model to be described)
This does not mean the social model approach is not relevant and accessibility is not important.
Counselling and Support Centre should focus on productivity and quality:
Supports 1400 students, 1100 with specific grants
Target students with specific educational difficulties including disabilities and dyslexia (not responsible for access to buildings, transport)
Local function, region function, research centre. – A part of academia not an administrative service. Part of Faculty of Arts which includes education.
Challenges for the universities (political drivers):
  • Higher productivity (more candidates (for same money!)
  • Quality focus (Bologna Process)
  • Inclusion
  • Diversity
Objectives for Education:
  • Good quality in own right
  • Qualifications
  • Employability
Bologna Process: Emphasis on employability.
How combined in Inclusive Higher Education?:
  1. No special curricular
  2. Obtaining the required competences
  3. Evaluation documented

Models of disability:

  1. Medical
  2. Social -> accessibility & usability (a quality issue)
  3. Possibilities approach (conf. UN) ->
  • Nature of impairment
  • Available resources
  • The individual

Student potential -> an option if they live up to the academic skills/

Disability Policy for AU:

Equal Educational Environment

Counselling and Educational Practice Centre:

  • Creates compensation options in relation to educational difficulties.
  • Evidence based

E.g. for students with dyslexia – social counselling: for academic practice, study support

“learn to learn!”

Assistive technology – laptop loans and scanning software and Dictaphone and synthetic speech/spelling programmes – The package!

Students instructed 1:1 on use of equipment concerning specific field of study 6-8 hours – so can use in a productive way the package

N.B. diversity of students with dyslexia

Individual assistance – 9-12 sessions per semester, also 1:1, the academic basis is what the student is studying, co-operative effort, student must be active, adapted to individual need.  Note taking, time management, aural presentation, etc.

Pycho-social “illness” in learning context

Aims again to facilitate process of identity formation

“Don’t have students with diagnosis”

If need therapy done elsewhere.

Aim to make there learning more effective specific to their context – so can self regulate their learning processes.

Holistic approach coordinated with teaching subjects focussed on the study issues not their “illness”

Aim is employability on open labour market and live independently

After 2 years study performance is average (grade points)

Drop out rate – better than average

Student progression slower although grade scores comparable with other students (studies sometimes delayed by treatment or study half-time to meet their needs)


About funding –

Test for dyslexia done by centre (accredited).  Those with psycho-social conditions need certificate from doctor but centre then evaluates further.

If pass qualifies for support.

Who pays – most comes from ministry of education (very bureaucratic).

Foreign students pay for the service but university pays for initial assessments – dealt with on a case by case basis depending on their source of funding.  Provide support within 5 days of arrival.  (Does not cover deaf-students)


13:30 – 14:00

The Hybrid Book – One Document for All

Petr Hladík (Masaryk University, Teiresias Centre)
Tomáš Gůra (Masaryk University, Teiresias Centre)

Started in 2002 as solution for blind and VI students for textual content – further developed.
Screen-readers etc. can give access to information but can make access to structure and navigation difficult.
Hybrid book to synchronise between two types of content -electronic text (HTML) plus audio recording of the text (human-voice)
Human voice has special advantages – e.g. language learning – other special content.
Complimented with navigation functions.
[Very similar to Open University’s DREAM / ReadOut – which now being phased out and being replaced by web (VLE) content or DAISY talking books as appropriate]
Navigation types:
  • sequential
  • block
  • outline (headings)


Hybrid-book3 – dealing with the needs of other users – especially hearing impaired

Now adding video recording with translation of text to sign language.  Using structures to enable synchronisation.  Can do this for any content that is readable sequentially. Audio and video records linked by XML descriptions in metadata. Web based App in PHP/Javascript, video recording played in Flash, audio compressed.  Simultaneous playback possible but not a priority – better for user to be able to switch between playback formats. Navigation structure simplified.

Demonstration of 1st prototype (still under development)

Further development – quality web based hybrid-book app, improving quality of multimedia output (still using human voice, human signers), Authoring tools only currently exist of synchronising audio so area for further development.

Question – why not DAISY – Answer:  video recording, synchronising other types of records and descriptive system different from DAISY – from outside the document, every record, data stream described separately so can add, at any stage, a new record.


Live-blog discontinued to attend EU4ALL Workshop the leave for the airport
For information on EU4ALL See: