Following on from the interest shown in a session, run by Ruth Graham and Sandy Alden, at the 2018 Learning and Teaching Conference, on designing inclusive learning, you can now sign up for two free online courses.
Explore the barriers experienced by disabled students and learn how to overcome these barriers through inclusive practices.
Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society runs from Oct 8th for five weeks, and has 8 universities discussing different aspects of digital technologies and accessibility from the developer and user’s point of view. It features case studies, new technologies and the latest news about legal standards and guidelines for web, mobile, documents, IoT etc. When there is:
“a better understanding of users’ needs, technologies can be developed to be accessible & provide a more inclusive environment”
Both courses are free, and offer practical hints and tips you can use straight away to make your own resources more inclusive.
As we move into the weekend and we start to think about how we are going to spend our downtime, and pursue leisure activities, we’d like to share a video with you which gives a lovely insight into leisure time on Hadrian’s Wall.
The start of a new year is always a great time to consider problems you would like to solve and changes you would like to make.
On 23 January 2017, Newcastle University opens The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen, our free online course, to a new group of learners. The four week course recreates the creative atmosphere of a shed – or any other place where you do your best thinking and doing. It promises to be a great place for you to work on those new year challenges and ideas.
Here, Katie Wray, Lead ‘Sheducator’, explains why you should all be joining her in The Enterprise Shed.
Enterprise and entrepreneurship at a grassroots level
Firstly, let me unpack ‘enterprise’. For me, enterprise is about making creativity, problem solving and ideas practical. This makes it relevant across all areas of education, not just business. Where enterprise is applied to creating a new venture, it is commonly known as ‘entrepreneurship’.
The Enterprise Shed challenges a variety of definitions of the entrepreneur, and looks at enterprise and entrepreneurship at a grassroots level. On the course, you will be introduced to a whole bunch of entrepreneurial individuals and teams, not all of whom refer to themselves as ‘an entrepreneur’.
How to make change in your own context
We are committed to exploring this question with you throughout the course, supporting you to draw your own conclusions about how you can make change in your own context.
Our other commitment is to exploring your ideas – collecting insights into what a solution looks like and helping you to turn that idea into something tangible. Finally, we are committing to developing your network, through which you can share your ideas, and put them into action once the course has finished.
That’s where you come in. This course is about you; it is about your role, through your ideas, in creating change. There are three main reasons why you should join us in The Enterprise Shed:
Develop confidence in yourself as a “doer”
You will do this by analysing the behaviours of other entrepreneurial people who you will be introduced to on the course. You will draw conclusions about the way that they “do” and what you might “do” when approaching your own challenges, problems and projects.
Address problems you want to change
You will do this through identifying problems, sharing them with others, creating and collaborating on ideas generation, and developing solutions together with peers on the course.
Meet people and build networks
We will do this by forming virtual networks around the globe, which can outlive the end of the course. You will meet people that share your passions and drivers to make change in your world, find out where you can go for help, and collaborate to achieve impact.
The Enterprise Shed is not just a course, but a place where you can go to think, and critically, to do.
The LTDS Online Courses Team have been experimenting with a number of online tools to support team-working and in the process have become great fans of Trello.
A team in different places
Trello gives us a live representation of the project and current responsibilities. It is easy for us to add new people to the Trello Board as the project progresses irrespective of where they are.
To put on a course we bring together a team – academic colleagues, digital media, LTDS. We are in different locations, and our academic leads can often be off campus. An online tool works really well for us.
Enterprise Shed 2 Trello Board
Mocking up courses
Trello comes into its own after we have done a good deal of planning (on Post-it notes and paper). We create a Trello List for each Week and give each step a Trello card.
By mocking up the course in this way it makes it easy to check that we have variety of media/approaches and it enables us to experiment with different routes through the learner activities.
If we think the content could be ordered better, then Trello allows us to drag and drop elements.
We also tend to add extra Trello Lists to the board to share project documents and resources eg actions around Marketing. This gives us a a complete “dashboard” for the project.
Customising Trello – agreeing conventions
One of the best things about Trello is that it is so easy to customise to meet your needs. If you can agree conventions with your team before you start you will reap the rewards later.
Here are some examples of what we did:
To help us see the mix of content in each week we defined labels that related to the activity type for each step, and applied these labels to the steps.
We added Trello checklist to steps to record work to be done and progress.
We dragged cards which were finished to the “done” list once work on the associated step was complete.
Borrowing from agile practitioners, we indicated the amount of work left on a card by adding a number of asterisks to the end of each card’s title. (*) trivial, through to (***) significant
We put links on each card so that we could go straight to the step on the course. That way if you spotted your name on a card, had time to give you could click through and edit the course content in a couple of clicks.
We added comments to Trello cards to remind ourselves of where we had got to, and to leave notes for other team members.
Other useful things
It is mobile friendly – Trello works really well on phones and tablets and has mobile apps available from the relevant appstores.
Trello has a good search function – eg “#video WEEK 2” gives the status of steps in Week 2 that have been labelled as video.
We use devices connected to the internet every day. Smart watches, mobile phones, fitness trackers, tablets, bookreaders and more. And they all contain a wealth of personal information: our browsing histories, banking details, passwords etc.
This enjoyable and engaging three week course will take you about 3 hours a week to complete. By the end of the course we hope you will more informed and understand the risks of fraud and cyber crime better, to help you make more enlightened decisions about how to protect your personal information.
Ageing Well: Falls is a four week (2 hours a week) free online course, which starts on 5 September 2016. Previous learners really valued this engaging course which is having a real effect on people’s lives.
This course was excellent, it gave a lot of good information and dispelled many myths about “only old folks have falls”, as well as giving resources to check when problems arise.
As we make the finishing touches to the course before it starts, we asked Dr James Frith, Lead Educator, a few questions which come up regularly:
Are falls really that dangerous?
James: Yes. Falls are hugely common and as we get older our bodies are less robust and are more likely to be injured during a fall. Serious injuries include broken bones and head injuries or serious bleeding. A broken hip can be devastating for some people. But for some people the loss of confidence following a fall can be just as disabling as a physical injury. Fortunately we can reduce the risk of falling and the associated injuries.
What is the most common story you hear from your patients?
James: Falls are complex and are rarely caused by a single factor. in each person who falls there are a mix of factors which contribute, so there is not really a typical type of fall. However, common things which I come across are:
Falling on the bus as people get up from their seats before it has stopped.
Putting out the bins in wet or windy weather.
Getting up too quickly to answer the telephone or the door.
Slipping in the bath or shower.
What can increase a person’s risk of falls?
James: Researchers have identified hundreds of risk factors for falls, so we tend to stick to the ones that we can do something about. The main risks are having a poor gait or balance, poor eye sight, dizziness, some medications, and hazards in the home or on the street, but there are many more.
What can a person do to reduce the risk of falls?
James: Sometimes it can come down to common sense, such as keeping stairs free from clutter, turning on the lights and reporting dizziness to the doctor. But there are other simple ways too, such as keeping the legs active and strong through gentle exercise, having a medication review with a doctor or pharmacist, avoiding dehydration and having walking sticks measured by a professional.
What is the best way to recover from a fall?
James: If someone is prone to falls they should consider wearing a call alarm or keeping a mobile phone in their pocket, just in case they need to call for help. Some people can learn techniques to help them stand following a fall – usually from a physiotherapist or occupational therapist. In the longer term anyone who has fallen or is at risk of falls should seek help from a health professional to try to prevent future falls. Sometimes falls can be due to medical conditions which can easily be treated.
Everyone knows someone who has fallen. Why not join our friendly team of falls specialists and thousands of people like you to find out what you can do to help yourself, your family, friends or people you care for?
The lead educators were warm and engaging, and they were generous with their knowledge and expertise.
I liked the interaction between participants. It makes you feel you are not alone in your experiences.
This September sees an opportunity to take part in our Ageing Well: Falls course, the third time we have delivered the course on FutureLearn.
Looking back at our previous two courses, it is a real pleasure to see how engaged and enthusiastic our learners were with the course materials. Learners worked together as a community and participated in discussions, activities and quizzes, creating an active and supportive learning environment.
Should this be a surprise? Well not really, we know that FutureLearn have been working hard to “pioneer the best social learning experiences for everyone” and our course shows that this still holds with an older audience.
In the UK, only 9% of people aged over 65 and 36% of those aged 55-64 used a computer on a daily basis when surveyed in 2006. But by August 2014, these figures had risen to 42% and 74% respectively. Of particular relevance to our Ageing Well: Falls course, is that when older people use the Internet, one of the main reasons is to seek health information. 1, 2
Data from our course also helps to show that older people engage with online learning. The graph below shows the age distribution of 412 people who volunteered their age during one of our activities. The oldest learner completing this activity was 87, showing that you are never too old to learn!
A recent study found that two-thirds of people living with dementia feel isolated. Our free online course “Dementia Care: Staying Connected and Living Well” starting on 23 May has been written to to help people stay connected and to communicate well.
In the first week of the course we explore dementia’s effect upon the person, on our personal relationships and on daily life.
Here is a sneak preview of one of the videos featuring Dr Lynne Corner:
The course has been written with family carers in mind. In it we hear from carers and experts as we explore practical strategies that can improve communication. Lynne draws on Newcastle University’s great expertise in ageing and dementia research and together with colleagues shares knowledge on dementia, language and practical strategies that can improve communication.