Category: Papers

EC-TEL 2009

Book cover
Cover of 'Learning in the Synergy of Multiple Disciplines'

‘Learning in the Synergy of Multiple Disciplines’, the proceedings of the 4th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning are now available via Google Books (free, but with some pages omitted) and in hardcopy and PDF Chapter by Chapter with publisher Springer. The collected papers were edited by volume editors, Ulrike Cress, Vania Dimitrova and Marcus Specht. Additional reviewers include myself, Liz Brown, Stamatina Anastopolou and Zoe Hadley from the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Nottingham (amongst others).

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.

Written for: Researchers and professionals
  • augmented reality
  • collaborative learning
  • education
  • games
  • interdisciplinary science
  • learning
  • learning environments
  • museum guide
  • ontologies
  • personalized learning
  • social networks
  • virtual classroom
  • virtual learning environments

Accessibility and Hierarchies of Impairment

Following on from yesterday’s MRL lecture, I was fortunate to talk with Prof. Dame Wendy Hall about my research and a short paper I’ve written on ‘Aversive Disablism and the Internet’, borne out of Blogging Against Disablism Day. This paper has been accepted for the 1st Symposium for Humanities and Technology Interface 2009, at the University of Southampton in July. The Symposium looks to explore many of the themes of Web Science advocated by Dame Wendy and other Soton and MIT colleagues, alongside more diverse interdisciplinary projects.

Interface requires that all delegates present either a Lightning Talk of 2 minutes, or a poster presentation.  I’ve pulled on my size 6.5 Lightning Boots, and opted for the former presentation style – and in conversation with Dame Wendy had a chance to rehearse my pitch on aversive disablism and it’s relevance for advancing debate and action on digital inclusion. Professor Hall immediately related this notion back to W3C web standards and asked my view on this – was I stating that (dis)ablism occurred at this level?  This turned the conversation to hierarchies of impairment.

Within accessibility practice (as in many other spheres) research and resources frequently prioritise certain communities and their requirements above others for a nexus of reasons.  In brief terms, hierarchical views of disability and impairment have been researched since the 1970s, but in 2003, Deal published Disabled people’s attitudes toward other impairment groups: a hierarchy of impairments (Disability & Society,18:7,897-910) to explore potential inter-group discrimination amongst disabled people.  Deal’s thorough review of the literature relating hierarchic understandings of impairment by both disabled and non-disabled people is essential reading.  Deal concludes with a call for research in this area, and notes that:

…it is important that, whilst disabled people fight a common cause in seeking equality within society and the removal of discriminatory practices, strategies for attitude change are targeted in a manner that makes them most effective. This may include focusing attention on impairment groups that face the most discrimination in society (i.e. those ranked lowest in the hierarchy of impairments), rather than viewing disabled people as a homogenous group.

Deal’s later PhD research explores the nuances of this hierarchy. His thesis Attitudes of Disabled People Toward Other Disabled People and Impairment Groups from 2006 can be found hosted at the Enham Research pages.

When relating these sociological frameworks to the internet, there is no doubt that, in pro-disabled accessibility discourse, certain groups are privileged above others. Whilst there is increasing sensitivity to this in Computer Science, with developers and researchers working to close the distance, this reasons for this divide are under-theorised within ICT discourse.

Much accessibility research focuses strongly on achieving accessibility for people with mobility, sensory and some text impairments – this is clearly important work, however, it does not represent the totality of necessary accessible practice.  For example, when Brian Kelly and others cited limits to the W3Cs Web Accessibility Initiative in their paper 2007 Accessibility 2.0: People, policies and processes they upheld Joe Clarke’s observation that the WACG development process lacked adequate provision for users with cognitive disabilities and learning difficulties.  Kelly et al also cited Lisa Seeman’s formal objection to WCAG 2.0, requesting that implicit claims that the guidelines did cover cognitive disabilities be omitted from the guidelines’ abstract altogether.  I would argue that this is one example of an occassion where cognitive and learning disablities have been afforded lower status in development discourse history and suffered aversive disablist outcomes as a result.

Clearly, accessible practise contends with the grey areas of potentially conflicting subjectivities. But viewed in light of Deal’s call to arms; adopting theory and strategies emergent from disability studies in the heart of mainstream internet practice would, I feel, create stronger debate pushing foward positive outcomes for all disabled people.  Is this a matter for a ‘Disability Web Science’?

ALT-C Timetable announced

The Association for Learning Technology has just released its draft timetable for speakers for this year’s conference at My paper has been listed in a 4 paper session early on Wednesday 10th September, covered by the Access or Exclusion theme, subtitled Disabilities / Community Access.  This is one of ten (yes, ten!) parallel sessions.

Short papers to be presented in this session:

  • Nothing about me, without me: The use of participatory research methods to give voice to disabled learners experiences of e-learning.
  • Hear my voice: Disabled E-Learners Narratives of Exclusion and Inclusion
  • Beyond access: social experiences of disability online, in and around higher education.
  • Values and identity in community IT centres

A second notable session cited under Access or Exclusion: Flexibility and Access / Disabilities runs from 4pm on the same afternoon, featuring two papers:

  • Flexibility and Access – implications of blended learning for higher education
  • How the Web Continues to Fail People with Disabilities

These look like interesting agendas, with some overlaps – but I’ll also be interested to see how these themes are conceptualised in the wider terms of the conference.  Will this be seen as a mainstream user experience consideration for education? Or a minority interest? In a conference considering the potential and actual divisive nature of ICTs, I’m hoping for the former.

e-Social Science

I’m pleased to announce that my submission to the 4th
International Conference on e-Social Science
has been accepted for
presentation as a short paper.  In line with the concerns of the conference, this paper will focus on the new-media methods I’m using for my PhD, these include screen and audio capture during local and remote interviews as well as emergent results.  I’ve already had positive and constructive comments from reviewers which have been really helpful.  Hopefully the conference itself will play out in the same vein. 

For those of you interested in this area the Conference will be held at the University of
Manchester, UK, from 18 – 20 June 2008.  I’m looking forward to visiting some of the sites from my youth – and in a new context!  The website states that ‘a wine reception will be held on the first evening in the
Power Hall at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry’. I haven’t been to the Power Hall since I was 12!  Should delegates really be allowed alcohol with all that machinery around? 

Sheffield Hallam Disability Research Forum

I will be presenting my research at the Disability Research Forum at Sheffield Hallam University on Tuesday 26th February 2008.  My working title for this session is "Disability, the Academic and Identity 2.0: The experiences of disabled students online".  More information will follow early next year.

Bergen Slides

Here are the files from my presentation at the PhD workshop on New Perspectives in Disability Research in Bergen: ‘Disability, the Academy and Identity 2.0: The social experiences of disabled students online’.  Please note, the PowerPoint slides were accompanied by a detailed abstract, Tufte* fans!

Slides: Download identity_20.ppt

Abstract: Download disability_the_academy_and_identity_2.0.doc

An expanded paper based on this abstract will be published later this year. 

NNDR Poster Competition

I’ve just returned from the Nordic Network on Disability Research biannual conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, where my poster won the Studentlitteratur poster competition (hurray!).  I’ve uploaded two versions here, a PDF copy of the poster and a Word text version.  Photos of the poster in-situ to follow…

NNDR Poster PDF version: Download nndr.pdf

NNDR Poster Word file (text only): Download nndr.doc