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One of the things I love about Edtech is that I'm constantly learning new things. Even when I already know something, there's always more to learn. This week, I've been revisiting the issue of assistive technologies, and trying to improve the accessibility of our Learning Management System (LMS) for our clients. To improve it, I wanted to do two things:
Make the focus boxes more visible, so that users who use keyboard navigation can see where they are on the page more easily;Provide a way to bypass all the menus and skip straight to the main content, if the user wants to. It's the latter of these that I learnt some things from. I will start by saying that this blog has a 'skip to main content' option and I had never seen it. Do you want to try it out?
Keyboard Navigation
Instead of using your mouse to get around the page, only use your keyboard. You can refresh the page by hitting F5. Then you can move from item to item by pressing the 'TAB' key. If you w…

What is the purpose of education?

You would think that, as a teacher, I would have asked myself this question... probably sometime between 1989 and 1993 (when I did my teaching degree). But no! I think I first consciously thought about this in January 2016.

We sort of take education for granted in this country... in most of the western world. Okay, at some point, many kids ask the question, why do I have to go to school? Do they get a proper answer?

So what happened in January 2016? Well, I can't even be 100% sure it was 2016... but I think it was. I went to BETT and the keynote speaker was Professor Sugata Mitra. He's the Indian guy who did the Hole in the Wall experiment and came up with SOLE (Self-organised learning environments) and the Granny Cloud. He has a voice I could listen to for hours! He is such an engaging speaker!

He was talking about assessment really, but he started off by asking about the role of the teacher. He showed pictures of what society needed adults to be like for most of history. We …

Finding and using images online

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In my last post, I briefly touched on this subject. There are so many jobs where we may find ourselves searching for images online, that we want to include in some piece of work. When I was teaching, and making learning resources for my class, I frequently needed images to bring content to life. Can you imagine teaching children about life in Kenya without showing them any photographs or images of Kenya? Similarly, when preparing a PowerPoint presentation for a business meeting, you might want icons, logos, images or other graphical content. How do we do this in a way that is legal and ethical? Whilst there is a lot of information out there, most of it is not licenced for reuse and if we just help ourselves to it and use it for our own purposes, that is a big no-no!

Creative Commons

The Creative Commons (CC) licencing system enables photographers and artists to upload their work and have control over how others can use it. There is a lot of information on their website and it is defini…

Digital Skills

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In my attempt to become expert in using Articulate Storyline, each week, I consider entering their eLearning challenge. This week, the challenge was to produce something around the theme of Lost Arts. They suggested a number of things: knitting, knot tying, fire building, etc. My friends on Facebook inspired me with many more ideas, but I ended up rejecting them all and going with the Lost Arts of Technology. I was thinking about the things that we used to do in the 80s and 90s that were early digital skills, but which are no longer relevant skills.

That has got me thinking, in the era of digital skills, especially in relation to employability, which digital skills will endure and which will fade away? I think it does depend on many things, not least the type of work that somebody hopes to get. The digital skills required for farming might be different from those required for software development, but I wonder what digital skills are likely to be needed, long term for the majority of …

Progress bars in Storyline 3

Quick bit of background explanation for anyone who's here for the first time:

I've recently started working as an e-learning designer and the main software we use is Articulate Storyline. I got started with it back in December and have had to pick it up quite quickly, in order to get rolling with my new job.

I'm pretty confident with most aspects of Storyline now but want to extend my skill set and learn how to do things that aren't necessarily related to my main work. One really good way of doing this is by participating in the weekly Articulate community e-learning challenges. This week was a good one for learning something new - progress bars.

The Challenge

#224 - How are designers using progress bars in e-learning?

The challenges are usually posted on a Saturday afternoon and I picked this one up early enough to spend some time on it yesterday evening. The idea is to create/adapt something and post a link to it.

I decided to adapt one of my old blog posts - Wheelchai…

Assistive Technologies

The world of assistive technologies (ATs) has been a bit of theme at work this week. One of our clients know that they have learners who use JAWS, Dragon, etc. and they really want to be sure that our products are compatible and will work properly with these ATs. I've had several phone conversations about this and I've gone back to one of the MA modules I studied and done some extra research, as well as using my own personal experiences, to come up with some clear answers.

Dragon

I am a Dragon user. I got it when I started my Master's course with the Open University. I had a disability assessment and some very nice chap visited me at home, asked hundreds of questions about my condition and how it affects me, and then recommended a chair and Dragon. Thankfully these were paid for by DSA (disabled student allowance), as they were both pretty pricey!

So, what is Dragon? It's basically a speech to text tool. I use it most for producing lengthy documents, where typing would …

What looks good?

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A few years ago, I did a photography course. As well as learning how to use all the different functions of my camera, instead of always having it on AUTO, we learned a bit about composition and what makes a photo look good. We learned about the rule of thirds, leading lines and framing. I hope that understanding this has helped me improve my photography.

A few weeks ago, I started my new job as an e-learning designer. When I was looking for something new, I noticed there were e-learning developer and e-learning designer jobs, and I wonder what the real difference is. I suspect, in practice, they both do much the same things. In theory, I'm more of a developer - I'm good at making the technology do what I want it to do. I've got the educational experience and I know what I want the learner to experience and I want to use the technology to enable that.

As a designer, I'd like to think I'm not too bad. I understand the basics of what makes a design look good, at least…