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March, 2012 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

March, 2012

  • Education

    Accessibility workshop for education

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    I thought I’d point you towards another resource that will be useful for partners, education trainers, and those who need to get the message across about Accessibility to their colleagues.

    Teacher Training Workshop on Accessibility

    It is a complete PowerPoint-based teacher training workshop on Accessibility for schools using Microsoft resources. The workshop materials are there ready to go, with all of the links to the resources on the web etc. The only thing we don’t provide is the person to deliver it for you - but the materials have been written so that it can be delivered by anybody in education, without a deep knowledge of accessibility or special needs.

    It covers a background, as well as an overview of accessibility features in Windows, Internet Explorer and Office, before going to look at the relationship between impairments and technology solutions, and advice on selecting accessible technology.

    In then gets really practical, to help with planning for specific students in your care, by looking at four imaginary students with different needs, and suggests how to support them:

    Alex  - a completely fictional student

    Scenario 1 - Visual impairment

    ‘Alex’ has a visual impairment and is colour-blind. He needs to have what he is reading on the computer enlarged or magnified, and he needs to rely on text, rather than colour, for information.

    Accessibility solutions

    Christina  - a completely fictional student

    Scenario 2 - Hearing impairment

    ‘Christina’ is hard-of-hearing so she needs to be able to adjust the volume on her computer. She uses headphones to block out background noise and increases the volume without disrupting other learners in the classroom. She also may need to watch parts of videos more than once to make sure she doesn’t miss anything that is being said.

    Accessibility solutions:

    Sam  - a completely fictional student

    Scenario 3 - Muscle fatigue and wrist pain

    ‘Sam’ has dexterity difficulties, including muscle fatigue. He needs to be able to limit the amount of keyboard work he does. Sam benefits from using Windows Speech Recognition to dictate large amounts of text for reports and uses an ergonomic Microsoft Comfort keyboard and mouse.

    Accessibility solutions:

    John - a completely fictional studentScenario 4 - Student who has difficulty concentrating

    ‘John’ has been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) which makes it difficult for him to concentrate sometimes. He would benefit from reducing visual and auditory distractions while using the computer. He needs the computer to assist him in better focusing on reading and
    typing tasks.

    Accessibility solutions:

    Learn MoreDownload the Accessibility in Education Workshop kit (PowerPoint)


    Bonus info: For more info on Accessibility and education, I’ve written blog posts about Accessibility half a dozen times recently:

  • Education

    University student recruitment is in the toilet - where’s your website?

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    I was talking about the process of student recruitment in universities yesterday, and this was one of my slides:

    IT in the Toilet - where are your future students surfing your website from?

    It’s a small bit of data from the “IT in the Toilet” survey from the US, and the point is that 4 out of 10 people from Gen Y (ie your next customer) has used a phone in the toilet to surf the web. The context for university student recruitment is that prospective students could literally be anywhere, at any time, when they are making the choice of their next education institution.

    In the future, student recruitment marketing and methodology has to be a lot more agile, to respond to changes in the way that prospective students are interacting with institutions in making their choices. As I work with universities that are re-designing their systems and processes to reflect the changing student recruitment landscape there are recurring themes. One big theme that keeps coming out is agility, to respond to the constant changes in the recruitment landscape and the prospective student mindset.

    What is often overlooked in institutions (not just in universities, but across any large institution) is the web content that’s published on your own website. What I’ve found is that the recruitment team generally ‘own’ a part of the site, and optimise that part for the recruitment cycle.

    But what happens if the prospective student ends up somewhere else on your site? What experience will they have? I’ve just finished reading ‘Why Higher Ed Sucks at Content Strategy’ on the .eduGuru blog, and it’s a comprehensive article that just might help you influence your colleagues’ thinking. For example:

      I’ve talked to more than one DI level school that has, and I kid you not, millions of web pages. Millions. Millions. Think about that for a second. If you checked 100 pages a day, every day for a year, you wouldn’t even manage to check the quality of 50,000 pages. If you had only one million pages, that wouldn’t even cover 5% of your site. One of the first steps in starting a content strategy is a content audit. How much of your site are you prepared to commit to that when you’re so huge? Yes, a lot of that is automatically generated or archival. Yes, not all of it is meant for normal human consumption. Yet the fact remains that when a problem is so big and you can’t even pinpoint where to start, many will choose to do nothing. Since many university sites lack any comprehensive business or marketing strategy when it comes to the creation and maintenance of content, literally every piece of information gets put out there, and it’s put out there by hoards of individuals that are ultimately not qualified to edit web sites. So we grow. And grow. And grow.  

    Learn MoreRead the full .eduGuru article on content management on university websites

  • Education

    Microsoft Flight simulator - free software for teachers in February

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    Find all 'Free Downloads' on this blog

    A last piece of Free February Appy-ness with a new piece of free software for teachers from Microsoft every day in February. Many of these items are unknown heroes, but they all share two things in common: 1) They are useful for teachers or students and 2) they are free.

    Okay, after 28 days hard slog to get through 28 free applications for teachers, I thought I’d take it a bit easier on the bonus day of the month. I’m sure you can find a teaching and learning use for this, but how about a gratuitous tip for a free bit of software:

    Microsoft Flight simulator in the classroom

    Now anyone can enjoy the fun, freedom and adventure of flight. Feel the power at your fingertips as you take to the skies and launch into thrilling missions and exciting challenges over the free-to-play Big Island of Hawaii.

    Take the Controls

    Customise flight controls to match your students’ skill level, choose exciting missions or just take off and explore the sky. Immerse yourself in the thrills and challenges of an ever expanding adventure, where each new plane soars with the power and handling of its real world counterpart.

    Got a Mouse? You Can Fly!

    Microsoft Flight

    Jump into the adventure of flying with no special hardware or past experience. With just a click of the mouse, you can see all available missions and locations, view the planes, track and share accomplishments, or take to the skies!

    Where can I find out how to use it?

    Like any other plane, there’s a handbook you can download

    Where do I get Microsoft Flight from?

    Download the free version of Microsoft Flight from here

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