The Nottingham Research Network (Special Educational Needs, Social and Educational Inclusion, Health and Disabilities) has issued a second call for papers for their 6th annual conference, scheduled for Friday 13th January 2012. This free conference is a collaborative and friendly event that welcomes presentations from people outside academia, as well as those who have not presented before. At previous conferences delegates have represented local schools, councils, student and housing groups, charities, advocacy organisations, support workers, and academics from a variety of disciplines across Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham (to name but a few). I have a lot of affection for this conference – the inaugural conference was my first experience of having my presentation interpreted by a BSL interpreter – and this early postgraduate presentation subsequently led to my becoming involved with Human Factors research in Engineering, alongside my own work in Learning Sciences and Disability Studies. It is this kind of juncture, between social sciences and hard sciences, as well as the applied and practical aspects of the conference that make it so important to Nottingham.
This years’ theme is “Creative Approaches to Building Relationships”. At present there is no online presence for the conference (the network has previously been active on Ning) so I’m reproducing the call for papers in full here.
The Nottingham Research Network
(Special Educational Needs, Social and Educational Inclusion, Health and Disabilities)
6th Annual conference “Connecting people with shared interests to promote increased collaboration”
Call for contributions on the theme of
CREATIVE APPROACHES TO BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS
University of Nottingham
Friday 13th January 2012 from 9.00-16.00
We welcome proposals for presentations, workshops and/or innovative approaches. We are keen to encourage new presenters. Please contact us by September 22nd:
Anne Emerson, Communication for Inclusion Research Unit, Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University.
The conference is a local one, aimed at increasing communication between researchers, practitioners, learners and others in the field. However, the network is a successful one – entering the 6th year of this annual conference. If you are looking to establish a similar city wide, or sub-regional network, I recommend getting in touch with one of the contacts above for information.
There has been a blogging hiatus here at Lewthwaite Industries, but perhaps with the best reasons. In May I submitted my corrections and in June I joined the pass list, submitting hardbound copies of my thesis in June (with thanks to the excellent Print Quarter in West Bridgford). In July I will be graduating and receiving my PhD. Whilst this has been taking place I’ve been working with Nottingham’s Human Factors Research Group, contributing to the MyUI project, a European project dedicated to developing adaptive interfaces for older users. I’ve also been developing publications from my thesis along with further research options on disability and social networks – but more on both of these developments later. Perhaps most importantly, it’s time to introduce my thesis: “Disability 2.0: Student dis/Connections: a study of student experiences of disability and social networks on campus in higher education”. Here’s the abstract, a slightly expanded version is included on my ‘research’ pages above:
For many young people, social networks are an essential part of their student experience. Using a Foucauldian perspective, this qualitative study explores the networked experiences of disabled students to examine how dis/ability difference is ascribed and negotiated within social networks. Data comprises 34 internet-enabled interviews with 18 participants from three English universities. Accessible field methods recognise participant preferences and circumstances. Data is analysed using discourse analysis, with an attention to context framed by activity theory. Disabled students’ networked experiences are found to be complex and diverse. For a proportion, the network shifts the boundaries of disability, creating non-disabled subjectivities. For these students, the network represents the opportunity to mobilise new ways of being, building social capital and mitigating impairment.
Other participants experience the network as punitive and disabling. Disability is socio-technically ascribed by the social networking site and the networked public. Each inducts norms that constitute disability as a visible, deviant and deficit identity. In the highly normative conditions of the network, where every action is open to scrutiny, impairment is subjected to an unequal gaze that produces disabled subjectivities. For some students with unseen impairments, a social experience of disability is inducted for the first time. As a result, students deploy diverse strategies to retain control and resist deviant status. Self-surveillance, self-discipline and self-advocacy are evoked, each involving numerous social, cognitive and technological tactics for self-determination, including disconnection. I conclude that networks function both as Technologies of the Self and as Technologies of Power. For some disabled students, the network supports ‘normal’ status. For others, it must be resisted as a form of social domination.
Importantly, in each instance, the network propels students towards disciplinary techniques that mask diversity, rendering disability and the possibility of disability invisible. Consequently, disability is both produced and suppressed by the network.
I have a huge list of people to thank for insight and support over the course of my doctoral study – I also have a substantial bibliography (although I’m sure this can only get larger). Danah Boyd already maintains a substantial bibliography of social networking research, and there are significant accessibility reading lists freely available through several institutions – however, I will be developing a ‘disability’ and ‘network’ specific library here at 32 Days over the coming weeks, as this is a literature I’ve received a lot of requests about and I’m sure it will serve other researchers developing the field. I’m currently looking into the best ways to share my work whilst observing copyright obligations for the publications I have in train. Once again, more on that later.
On the 8th March 2011 from 4-6pm I will be presenting my doctoral research to researchers and students at Liverpool Hope University’s Centre for Culture and Disability Studies in the Faculty of Education. This guest lecture is offered as part of ‘Introduction to Research Methods: Disability Studies’. If you would like to attend, please contact the CCDR’s Deputy Director Dr. Ria Cheyne via firstname.lastname@example.org. More details about the location, slides and so forth will be added closer to the day. I hope to see you there!
Title: Disability 2.0: Investigating Socio-Technical Experiences of Disability in Social Media.
Abstract: For many young people, social networks are an essential part of their student experience. My research explores disabled students experiences of disability in social networks to understand how dis/ability difference is ascribed and negotiated within such networks, and the impact it has on student life. This research is firmly located within the social sciences, drawing on the thinking of Foucault to develop understandings of disability and power relations online. However, its research object, the socio-technical mediation of disability, is interdisciplinary; drawing on research territories that are unfamiliar to many disability studies researchers.
In this talk, I give a backstage look at negotiating a path through interdisciplinary disability studies research, touching on information sciences and human computer interaction, and the particular problems and opportunities that this kind of activity presents. I introduce the notion of ‘bricolage’ as a user-friendly multi-perspective methodology and research approach that has enabled me to develop new, technology-enhanced and accessible research methods, and develop a research lens drawing on complementary methods from Activity Theory, Phenomenography, Discourse Analysis and Case Study.
This will be an interactive session aimed at researchers and students. Prior knowledge of the methods and technologies presented is not necessary. Following on from an orientation in social media research for disability studies, I will also talk about the findings of my research, which consider the ways in which social technologies reposition disabled people within taxonomies of identity, enabling some and dis-abling others.
Two pieces of news today. Firstly, on September 30th I submitted my PhD thesis “Disability 2.0: Student dis/Connections. A study of student experiences of disability and social networks on campus in Higher Education”. As a result, from this point forward I will be showing my blog a little more TLC. However, my second piece of news may distract you from a revived and refreshed 32 Days Remaining! The all *NEW* Disability Research Forum blog now also vies for your attention. I heartily recommend the DRF blog to you for UK disability research news and updates on the Research Forum’s own activities. They are always welcoming to new members, so if you want to present, lead a discussion or simply participate from afar, the blog is a great place to start.
I recently recieved this call on behalf of the Disability Research Forum. They write:
Now into its sixth year, the Disability Research Forum (DRF) continues to foster informal networks of disability scholars and provide researchers with opportunities to present their work in a friendly and encouraging environment.
Dates for upcoming seminars are below (we have tried to vary the day and time of the meetings to allow a range of people to attend).
Thurs. 14th October 2010: 11.30am-1.30pm
Mon. 15th November 2010: 12pm-2pm
Tues. 14th December 2010: 12pm-2pm
Tues. 15th February 2011: 1pm-3pm
Fri. 25th March 2011: 11.30am-1.30pm
Tues. 12th April 2011: 2pm-4pm
If you, or anybody you know, would like to present at a DRF seminar please get in touch. Alternatively, let us know if there is an issue/article/academic book you’d like to facilitate a round table discussion on. Even if you do not intend to present, feel free to come along, listen and share your thoughts.
This year we are also planning to hold some seminar-days – details of these will follow shortly … and remember 14th-15th September 2011 sees the return of the hugely successful ‘Normalcy and the Mundane’ Conference at Manchester Metropolitan University.
These informal seminars are held in Room 10111 (First Floor) Arundel Building, Charles Street, City Campus, Sheffield Hallam University, S1 1WB.
For lunchtime slots, please feel free to bring your own food and drink.
I’m pleased to say that my first book contribution, Technologies for Formal and Informal Learning (Chapter 12, pp. 435-464) co-authored with Dr Charles Crook, has been published in the International Handbook of Psychology in Education, edited by Karen Littleton, Clare Wood and Judith Kleine Staarman. The volume is published by Emerald, and is available now via Amazon.
The International Handbook of Psychology in Education provides researchers, practitioners and advisers working in the fields of psychology and education with an overview of cutting-edge research across a broad spectrum of work within the domain of psychology of education. As well as convering the latest thinking within established areas of enquiry, the Handbook includes chapters on recently emerging, yet important, topics within the field and explicitly considers the inter-relationship between theory and practice.
The chapters in the handbook are authored by internationally recognised researchers, from across Europe, North America and the Pacific Rim. As well as covering the latest thinking within established areas of enquiry, the handbook includes chapters on recently emerging, yet important, topics within the field and explicitly considers the inter-relationship between theory and practice. A strong unifying theme is the volume’s emphasis on processes of teaching and learning. The work discussed in the handbook focuses on typically developing school-age children, although issues relating to specific learning difficulties are also addressed.
“This fine collection of key contemporary work by renowned authors represents the state of the art in the psychology of education. The book is ground-breaking, timely and comprehensive, and indispensable reading for scholars and practitioners interested in understanding and promoting teaching and learning in diverse educational contexts.”
Professor Sylvia Rojas-Drummond, Faculty of Psychology, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM)
“This book brings together an all-star cast of international experts, and should be required reading for the large community of education researchers who are studying how to improve classroom instruction by using psychological research.”
Professor Keith Sawyer, Washington University, St Louis, USA.
“A welcome and much needed book.”
Kristina Kumpulainen, Finnish National Board of Education and University of Helsinki
Springer describe the book as constituting the refereed proceedings of the 4th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning, EC-TEL 2009, held in Nice, France in September/October 2009. The 35 revised full papers, 17 short papers, and 35 posters presented were carefully reviewed and selected from 136 paper submissions and 22 poster submissions. The papers are organized in topical sections on adaptation and personalization, interoperability, semantic Web, Web 2.0., data mining and social networks, collaboration and social knowledge construction, learning communities and communities of practice, learning contexts, problem and project-based learning, inquiry, learning, learning design, motivation, engagement, learning games, and human factors and evaluation.
I’ve just received notice via the Association for Learning Technology that the first two chapters of Dr Jane Seale’s Teaching and Learning Research Programme -Technology Enhanced Learning (TLRP-TEL) commentary on Digital Inclusion are now available to view online.
Interested individuals are invited to add their comments and opinions on the online version of the commentary. These comments will then inform the writing of the final published document. For more information and to get involved go to:
Following reviews from others working in accessibility, inclusion and Higher Education, I’ve been watching footage from the recent Handheld Learning Conference in London. Extensive online proceedings including video are available on the conference website and via iTunes.
I’ve supplied links to videos alongside notes on the first 5 presentations from the Inclusion Session below. Notes from Sal Cooke’s presentation are most complete due to the range of sources she draws on and my own interest in the projects she cites. For brevity, this a descriptive account, not an analytic one. As I did not attend the conference myself, comments are very welcome. Please note all links open in a new window and many presentations feature slides that are not audio-described.
To what problem is ‘inclusion’ an answer? Doesn’t everyone have a mobile?
Is ‘Digital Divide’ an outmoded term? It’s no longer a poor/rich divide, but a series of fractures.
Specifically, here Clark identifies a disjuncture in the UK between ‘analogue’ educational practices in schools and the ‘digital’ world that characterises nearly everything else.
Can inclusion actually result in exclusion? The fact that the few don’t have the technology means the many don’t get anything.
In terms of accessibility discourse, I feel this relates to the observations made by Brian Kelly and others regarding the development of Adaptable and Accessible practices. Video and other media from Brian’s presentation at TechShare are available via his blog.
Has the ‘Digital Britain’ report helped or hindered our digital future? It’s largely about TV, Radio and Newspapers or punishing file-sharers.
Clark also questions policy approaches, making a strong critique of Digital Britain, identifying how a scoping document has become a punitive exercise.
Niel McLean is Executive Director of Becta (the British Education and Communications Technology Agency), here he introduces the Home Access project which seeks to ensure that all pupils in state education in England have the opportunity access to computers and internet connectivity for education at home. The programme supplies funding to achieve this. Aside from McLean’s discussion of socio-economic deprivation as a distinct category within the inclusion agenda, this talk includes a valuable dissection of the political grounds for Government’s role in ensuring home-based access to education.
David Cavello is the Chief Learning Architect at MIT on the One Laptop Per Child project. One Laptop Per Child is a renowned project that aims to create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for learning. Cavallo is a charismatic speaker and news on the progress of the project is always engaging (as is Dr Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the Wall project in India). Questions and answers relate to bandwidth, collaboration and infrastructure.
Cooke’s presentation focuses on mobile device research and relations to inclusion, disability and Special Educational Needs in a wide-ranging talk that draws on multiple projects and resources. She begins by reporting recent ministerial announcements about mobile devices in Education. These include: Funding for 118 projects, 30 significant case studies with 8 to be studied in-depth to examine impact. Projects will particularly focus on:
Field Work, Special Needs, home access, staff and learner capacity
Innovation in the curriculum
Motivation of the learner, particularly the disengaged
Measures of significant improvements in learning outcomes
However, she quickly moves on to point out that much of this research has arguably already happened. Specifically, the ‘Portables in Action’ NCET Project reported outcomes in 1994 and concluded at that time that:
“Educational achievements are enhanced by pupils using portable computers, including the volume and quality of their work, particularly in accuracy and standard of presentation”
“there is clearly a great potential for using portable with special educational needs pupils”
So are the issues the same, or have they changed? Cooke covers several key areas for contemporary deployment of mobile devices and digital content. Specifically she cites issues with assessment and the process of assessment for those who require additional time and assistive technologies. How will these learners’ needs be met?
Make learning more convenient, accessible, inclusive and sensitive to learners; individual needs and circumstances
Encourage non-traditional learners and learners who have not succeeded in traditional learning to engage in learning and to improve in confidence and self-esteem
Help teachers to provide different learning activities to suit different learning styles or preferences and different ability levels.
Cooke stresses the need for this approach to be transferred into other educational sectors. She also refers to findings from MoLeNET research to refute common myths that mobile technologies might ‘somehow be inappropriate or too difficult for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities‘ or that ‘allowing the use of mobile technologies, particularly mobile phones, in schools and colleges would make it difficult for teachers to control classes and would encourage inappropriate behaviour‘. To support this, Cooke cites evidence and best-practice case studies available via MoLeNET and describes how mobile devices can assist in a multitude of different situations. She also lists the publication GoMobile as a source highlighting many innovative uses of handheld devices.
Next Cooke illustrates how technologies have moved into the home and represent an untapped learning resource that arguably represents the crux of the Inclusion agenda. One slide depicts a toy pen from ToysRUs that helps children learn to read. Cooke observes that this is the same technology that was being given to dyslexic students as an assistive technology only a couple of years ago. She indicates how assistive technologies are now cheap, mainstream and in the home and broadly conceived as ‘gadgets’.
Cooke links to further evidence from the ongoing ‘Me and My Mobile Phone’ survey by Ian Milliken at Iansyst, the University of Southampton and JISC TechDis, listing highlights from learners with additional access needs. A graph (difficult to see on video) shows that screen size and text size, though significant, are a not considered an overwhelming problem by users with access needs because there are other things that they do with a phone. She quotes one participant:
“…more mobile phone companies should be aware of the software available to help those who are sensory impaired and either offer to put the software on, suggest where to get the software or make sure…their phones are compatible with the latest software”
This research also shows that the vast majority of participants do not want to speak into their device to navigate content, but they do want to hear it.
Cooke concludes with thanks to industry for the huge leaps made in mainstreaming accessible platforms and apps. Apps that could not have previously come to market are now available and ready to use, breaking barriers that were insurmountable in the past . She cites several strong examples including:
Yahoo collaboration with Reading University to provide automatically captioned video
Rix Centre (University of East London) work on symbol card recognition, enabling users to surf the web and listen to emails using only symbols.
The addition of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to new phones in 2010. RFID has been used by the RNIB for years. With international roll-out immanent, educational applications of RFID are being developed.
Cooke goes on to refer to ‘Independent Specialist Colleges: Specialists in Innovation citing the innovative work undertaken within Special Education. She asks how this wealth of knowledge can be married to mainstream practice to for mutual benefits in national programmes. How can we make a real difference? How do we equip staff with the necessary skills? Will mobile learning require new kinds of teaching?
Here Cook returns to the push of new technologies that are changing inclusion work, using the example of RoboBraille, winner of the European Access-IT award.
Robobraille is a free ‘phenomenally powerful resource’. Users send a word processed document to an email address, the document is returned in DAISY format. DAISY, the Digital Accessible Information System, is a format for digital audio books for people who wish to hear and navigate written material presented in an audible format.
Cooke states the institutional focus must be on Continuing Professional Development. What do people do with technologies in their roles? Do people create mobile resources? Do they apply different teaching techniques? Or do they use mobile devices predominantly for collaboration and communication? How many people know what is in their Single Equality Duty Scheme about Mobile learning? How do we upskill this workforce?
Cooke closes the presentation re-asserting print impairment as a major access issue. Under this topic she refers to contemporary developments in e-books and e-publishing within Education. Finally, in response to previous presenters, Cooke asserts Digital Inclusion a matter of rights, not politics. For some people it is life. She quotes a learner in a specialist school to underline this fact: ‘I cannot speak but I use my phone all the time, because I want my mum to be able to see me and see how I am’.
Last week I blogged about the InterFace Symposium in Southampton. As with many events, the organisers sought to enhance delegate experiences and communities using a mix of social networks and other Web 2.0 tools (a Ning social network, Micro-blogging with Twitter, online publishing with Scribd). It can be difficult to quickly assess the accessibility of such services and make decisions as to which service is most appropriate – or at least it was until JISC TechDis and Southampton University pulled together to create Web2Access.
Web2Access is a great reference site for anyone wanting to make more informed decisions about applying web 2.0 tools in an accessible way. The resource allows you to search for information in different ways. You can search by activity (for example, collaborative writing or ) and Web2 Access will then give you a percent score on the success of those applications in accessibility terms. So at time of writing Twitter scores an overall 88% , Accessible Twitter scores 95%, Facebook 69%, Ning 72%. These ratings are subjecting and based on manual and automatic tests. If you follow links for each individual service, you can discover more detailed information about how each service scores for users with different disabilities. Alternatively you can browse by Disability or using the Search box on the website front page. There are also useful pages describing how the sites listed have been tested, answering Frequently Asked Questions and linking to useful e-Learning resources.
If you are involved in organising teaching and learning and are wanting to make more use of Web 2.0 services in your e-learning activities, or if you are interested in how Web 2.0 can supplement your existing methods, or events in an accessible way, Web2Access provides a rule of thumb for most situations.