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Learning new tech through the #TwoPointSixChallenge

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Challenge summary To get the whole story, you'd be best reading my Part-time on Wheels blog. In this post, I want to share about some of the techie things I learned or did for the first time, whilst making our video. I used a rather old Sony HD camcorder and various bits of the Adobe Creative Cloud. Hopefully, this will be useful to somebody.
Adobe Illustrator I was watching one of the Spring Harvest videos over Easter and they had a cool frame around the film clip. I liked the effect and wanted to give that a try. So I used Illustrator to create a frame. The cool thing with Adobe, is that you don't even have to export it. You can just drag the Illustrator file onto the Premiere Pro timeline and they play very nicely together. This was handy, as I decided to change the frame several times before finally settling on this one:

Adobe Media Encoder My old but trusty Sony camcorder produces all the video files in MTS format, which isn't accepted by Premiere Pro, but luckily, M…

An opportunity for change

Professor Sugata Mitra Many years ago, I had the privilege of listening to this amazing guy give the keynote speech at a conference. He spoke about our education system and showed some powerful photographic images to explain why our schools are the way they are. It made more sense to me than anything I had ever heard before. Here's the gist of it...
Our Victorian education system The education system was created, to ensure that children were given the skills they would need to be able to live and work as adults and to contribute to society. What did the workplace of the late 1800s look like? Well, there were different jobs but the everyday person might work in one of the following places:
An office - everyone would have their own desk, usually in rows and columns, facing the front. It was very important to be able to write neatly and legibly. You would do a piece of work, and then hand it in to the supervisor at the front of the office.  It's easy to see how a classroom prepar…

The benefits of technology during Coronavirus isolation

Working from home I work just over half my time from home, as the norm. I love it! As an introvert, I find it very helpful to have time working alone, to work without my energy being sapped. It's not that I don't like people... I just get my energy from time alone, whereas extroverts get their energy from others.
The team I work with are amazing! They really are! We are the most diverse bunch of people, spread out across the country and we all have different skills and personalities. Even before this virus appeared, we made every effort to stay in touch and make sure the remote workers were included. What we didn't need to do, is pay attention to those who, because of location and/or preference, work in the main office. 
Collaboration It has never been easier to stay in touch, even when isolating. Most of us have some form of social media, a smart phone, messaging and video tools. From a work perspective, if you haven't used these tools before, I would recommend tryin…

Making Word documents accessible

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Universal design is one of the phrases that stuck with me when I did a Masters module on accessibility in online learning. It struck a chord because I see in the physical day-to-day world, the problems that occur when something is designed or built and then access for wheelchairs is considered as an afterthought. That is when we (disabled people) become a frustration or an inconvenience. It is much easier to design and build something (a house, a shop, a piece of eLearning, even a Word document) that is accessible for all, if you think about access at the beginning. It would be transformational if everything that was ever designed was designed with all needs in mind.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear that a piece of eLearning isn't AT (assistive technology) compliant and as a mitigation for this, the content is put into a Word document. In many cases, nobody thinks that the Word document isn't compliant either. And yet, it's really not difficult to make …

Completion of a tough job

Just under a year ago, I took on a project that was expected to last about 3 months. It was supposed to be an easy win, where the SME already had most of the content and wanted to make quick progress. Today, I finished the build of this eLearning package. It still needs a couple of updates and to go through the review process, but the actual content and build is finally done!

So what have I learned from this quick win that took almost a year?
1. Ask more questions at the beginning. 

Before I begin any new projects, I want to be 100% sure that the client knows exactly what the project is about and can communicate that to me. Vague ideas aren't a good starting point. I want to know:

What is the subject?Who (specifically) is it aimed at? What do they want learners to learn?What behaviour changes do they want to see as a result?Why has this piece been commissioned right now?Is it connected to other projects?What has triggered this project? In short, before I go any further, I want to kn…

Edtech reflections on 2019

Wow! What a year 2019 has been! It's hard to believe that this time, last year, I was still working for the local adult learning service. I feel like I've been in my current role for much longer. This time, last year, I was desperately trying to learn Storyline 3, in preparation for starting my new job. Now, as I look back, I think I have learned so much more, both from a techie perspective and also as a designer.

Articulate 360 I have learned so much about this amazing suite, that I could probably fill a whole book! So what are the highlights? What have I learnt, that is more than I expected to learn? 
One of the most important things I have learned, is about compliance with assistive technologies. It's ironic that, as a Dragon user, I wasn't more aware of this before, but I tended to only use Dragon for speech-to-text. It was basically a dictation software for me, when writing assignments. I had also 'bumped into' JAWS, whilst studying for my Master's but…

Adobe Animate

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Finding inspiration When I started playing with Illustrator, a few weeks ago, I saw the kind of amazing art work that could be created, but wasn't inspired enough to produce something beautiful and colourful. Instead, like many designers, I found inspiration in something that already existed... existed in a form that I think lacked function.

I really don't like the icon/symbol that represents disability - the wheelchair icon. It's technically a black line icon but what I see is a grey NHS wheelchair with big rubber wheels and casters, that is terribly heavy. So that inspired me to create new disability icons, that represent a different view of disability. I wanted my icons to represent capability and activity in a wheelchair... for the wheelchair to be a positive symbol, rather than a symbol of pity.

And so, you may remember, I created this...


Connections Of course, even though the current wheelchair icon doesn't actually look like a real wheelchair, we see it as one, …