Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dyslexia Scotland

On the Friday I added a link to Dyslexia Scotland to the Dyslexia Information page. What impressed me most is that it's a beautifully designed site. It contains all the usual dyslexia information with all the Scotland specific information you would expect. It incorporates the Textic toolbar so cleanly it seems part of the design - it probably was. The links to Readspeaker are very clear. The whole design has been worked out wonderfully. The British Dyslexia Association site also uses Textic and also has the Textic talk toolbar for sound, but inevitably they could not redesign the site to incorporate these.

I played around with the Textic bar when it first came out, but rarely had the opportunity to use it with dyslexic learners. It's a great idea and I would recommend dyslexic people to pay for the Word bar. I'm not so sure about the Internet Explorer bar - I mostly abandoned Internet Explorer about a year ago, and they do not yet have a bar for Firefox. I don't know if anyone has gone for a whole college approach to Textic - I imagine the limitations and costs would be complex. The website way can be effective. With public websites having to make themselves accessible under the DDA, there is a lot of scope for clean design and tools like this to help poor readers.

I also played around with text and background colours a few years ago on this page. I try to do handouts on coloured pages and use sans serif fonts like Arial and Verdana, but I'm not a great fan of Comic Sans (not available on this blog). I've tried Arial and Verdana on this post as well

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Website Additions 20 February 2007

I have added links today for Maths Activities for some of the Canterbury Cross programs. I have a couple of quite strong reservations:
  • they are .exe files and may cause difficulties when they are clicked on some set-ups. Firefox also handles .exe files in a more cumbersome (but perhaps more secure) way.
  • they can be quite large programs with and the bit with what I see as real Adult Numeracy relevance may not come up first.
However the value of these activities may be quite high. There is a similar issue with the Gordons files which are flash based but which may reference a number of different skills within one file. I haven't added many of these yet.

I have also started a section on the Elearning page for what is at the moment Blogs, wikis and podcasts. I hope in time that this will become a whole section/page on Web 2.0 approaches for Skills for Life. At the moment there isn't much. I have added the Grammar Girl podcasting site - it is likely to be of more value for teachers than learners; but it demonstrates a great use of the technology. I'd be interested to hear how learners like the change to a listening style. The blogs show that blogs can be used in a number of different ways.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Literacy and Web 2.0

Seeing this video on YouTube yesterday started me thinking, as I am sure it has for many people (400,000 hits in 9 days). It sums up in 5 minutes how Web 2.0 is changing our culture, no less.

My thoughts are about literacy and the requirements for it. It is rapidly becoming essential to read the web and to write to the web, to remain included in society; the video shows just how. As ICT becomes increasingly seen as a Skill for Life, we need to make sure that our learners can access the web both ways. They must be able to read web pages and to recognize and understand hyperlinks. They must be able to write to web packages like blogs, wikis, Moodle, web forums and all the others, using the sort of post editor that I am using here, using the icons and conventions that they would use in a word processor

So along with using Web 2.0 technologies as learning tools, we must ensure that our learners, particularly those returning to learning, have the skills to access them. Of course our teachers also have to have those skills.

I had a look at the Level 1 Adult ICT Skills standards from the QCA, published 2005. The internet is still passive, for reading and downloading. I dare say someone learning Web 2.0 skills could be accredited using these standards, but it shows how fast we are moving.