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FREE 14 day trial for HelpKidzLearn

By Sandra O'Neill on Monday 22nd October, 2012 at 12:27pm

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HelpKidzLearn has a great selection of motivational, fun and accessible games and activities from Inclusive Technology. There are five different sections : Early Years, Games, Stories, Creative and Find Out; with a number of activities in each section. All of the activities can be accessed using a switch(es), touch screen, mouse, joystick, rollerball, or an eye gaze communication solution, by all children including those with special educational needs and learning difficulties.

The two weeks trial is a time limited offer.

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Protect and survive?

By Paul Nisbet on Thursday 18th October, 2012 at 4:35pm

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Local authority and school ICT services are rightly concerned to protect their systems from abuse, hacking and from viruses, and to protect their users' privacy and security. 

In most Scottish schools, learners cannot use their own smartphones or mobile devices to access the internet in school, and social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked.

Unfortunately, a side-effect of locking and blocking is that essential software to enable pupils to access the curriculum may not get installed or that simple adjustments to control panels cannot be made (which we think in many cases contravenes Equality legislation), and that useful internet sites are blocked so that staff and learners cannot access educational content.

But is all this locking and blocking really necessary? Not according to a report from the Nominet Trust.

The cloudlearn project looked at the experiences of five schools that have unlocked and de-blocked their ICT, and the results make interesting reading. Professor Stephen Heppell, and Carole Chapman, the authors of the report, argue that schools that have embraced social media and portable devices achieve greater engagement with learners, and that unblocking is actually less dangerous than restricting the use of social media and learners’ own portable devices.

In addition to the case studies, the report offers a set of policy guidelines for using smartphones and devices, and social media tools in school.

In our field, we have personal experience of working with young people with disabilities who need digital technologies to communicate and access the curriculum, yet who are prevented from using their devices to access school networks or the internet whilst in school. If school and local authority systems can be opened up while maintaining security and safety, it will have a real benefit for these learners.

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iOS 6 - Guided Access

By Sally Millar on Monday 15th October, 2012 at 10:47am

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Have you updated your iPad to iOS 6 yet?  It only takes about 5 minutes and so far we haven't heard of any problems (apart from the widely reported Apple Maps fiasco)

One of the features that we have all - in the ASN field - been waiting for enthusiastically, is the new 'Guided Access' feature, otherwise known as 'Kid Mode'. (Settings, General, Accessibility, Learning).  See here more detailed instructions for setting up Guided Access / Enabling Kid Mode 

This new feature means that you can 'lock' a user into a single App (the one you want them to be using), rather than leaving them free to distract themselves by flicking around all over the iPad and not focusing on anything. As we know, the delights of the iPad are so great that children will often prefer to interact with the iPad itself, rather than to use it as tool to interact with a learning task, or to communicate with others.   

If you've set it up right, you just need to triple click the Home Button and enter your chosen Passcode to exit this mode and unlock the device. But apparently there have been a few problems with people getting stuck and becoming completely 'locked in' to Guided Access mode, and unable to get out again! There is a wee fix here to tell you how to escape from that situation, if it occurs.

 

 

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CALL Live Webinar Available to view: Dyslexia Teacher's Toolkit

By Craig Mill on Wednesday 10th October, 2012 at 3:04pm

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CALL Live logoAddressing Dyslexia Teacher's Toolkit

 
Thanks to Dr. Margaret Crombie for delivering an interesting and lively webinar on the Addressing Dyslexia Teacher’s Toolkit. 
 
Margaret provided a clear and concise overview of the Addressing Dyslexia Teacher’s Toolkit covering the main areas including Starting the Process, What to Look for, Planning, Evaluating and Reporting.  
 
As part of the presentation Margaret talked about the importance of understanding the ‘definition of dyslexia’ and drawing reference to issues such as emotional and behavioural factors, visual factors and drawing conclusions based on a holistic approach. 
 
Margaret also highlighted some of the new resources including free downloads, case studies and a new technology section
 
With delegates from across the UK including Orkney, there was a great deal of interest and discussion from everyone who attended - one delegate commented "I really appreciated this webinar. I shall be recommending it to all my schools, and to the other educational psychologists."

  
The recording lasts approximately 30 minutes and can be downloaded from the link below:
 

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CALL Live Webinar: Dyslexia Teachers’ Toolkit

By Craig Mill on Tuesday 9th October, 2012 at 1:09pm

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Find out about the revised Dyslexia Teachers Toolkit

Dr. Margaret Crombie will be hosting the next CALL Live Webinar on 10th October (Wednesday) at 1.pm. Margaret will discuss and demonstrate the recently revised Dyslexia Teachers’ Toolkit.

A bit about Margaret…

Dr Margaret Crombie is an associate lecturer with the Open University (Difficulties in Literacy Development course) and is also supervisor to a number of doctorate students. She chairs the AMBDA (Associate Membership of the British Dyslexia Association) panel for the Open University.  This is the panel that approves applications for accreditation of assessment and teaching practice for those working in the dyslexia field.

Margaret is also a member of the British Dyslexia Association Accreditation Board and of Dyslexia Scotland.  

Margaret has considerable previous experience of working in the dyslexia field, not least as a specialist teacher.  Margaret has researched into various aspects of dyslexia, and has chaired the working group that has produced the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit. 

Book your place

To book your place simply select this link and drop Craig an email

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Parents Information Day at CALL, Focus on iPads

By Sally Millar on Monday 8th October, 2012 at 6:38pm

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Calling all parents of children with additional support needs!

Interested in maybe using the iPad with your son /daughter? 

This course will provide you with a pile of iPad Top Tips and useful information about how to pick good Apps and iPad accessories, and how the iPad can be managed at home and at school.

 

Do come to the CALL Scotland Parent Information Day on Saturday 24 November in Edinburgh, from 10am - 2pm

The course is free of charge and refreshments and a light lunch will be provided. The course is ONLY open to parents.

For more information, download a programme and booking form here, or contact CALL (rebecca.gow@ed.ac.uk).

Numbers are limited due to lack of space, and we need to know numbers for catering, so this is not a 'drop-in' day. Please book in here as soon as possible to be sure of getting a place. 

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CALL Live Webinar Available to view: Co:Writer 6

By Craig Mill on Tuesday 2nd October, 2012 at 2:21pm

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CALL Live Webinar: recording now available to view

As part of the on-going CALL Live webinar series, Jamie Munro of Inclusive Technology provided an informative and interesting session on Co:Writer today.  As someone who has used Co:Writer for many years I learnt a great deal from the session, so thanks to Jamie. 

Jamie covered some of the basic features in Co:Writer but also explored a few advanced features and offered some good ideas to support pupils with literacy difficulties, such as selecting existing topic dictionaries (and creating new topics dictionaries) to help with spelling. Jamie also covered how to make the most of flexible spelling, setting preferences in word clouds, word lists, managing user settings and much more. 

View the recording 

As with all CALL Live webinars, today’s session was recorded so you view the webinar at time that’s convenient to you. The session lasted for 20 minutes and you can view the recording by selecting this link.

Next webinar

Dr. Margaret Crombie will be hosting the next CALL Live webinar  on 10th October (Wednesday) at 1.pm.  Margaret will discuss and demonstrate the recently revised Dyslexia Teachers’ Toolkit.

 

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Reasonable Adjustments - New guidance on the duty to provide auxiliary aids & services

By Stuart Aitken on Wednesday 26th September, 2012 at 12:12pm

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The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has published new guidance on the reasonable adjustments duty on auxiliary aids and services for disabled pupils. This duty duty took effect from 1 September 2012 in the UK, although the new guidance applies only in Scotland. The guidance is designed to help school leaders and education authorities comply with the reasonable adjustments duty, with a particular focus on the new auxiliary aids and services provision. It will also help disabled pupils and their parents understand the duty.

The practical examples included are designed to illustrate what would be expected of schools responding to and anticipating the support needs of disabled pupils for whom schools have to make reasonable adjustments. It includes practical case studies showing how the duty can be applied in contexts which will be familiar to teachers.

Many of the examples do indicate an awareness of, and draw on evidence for, the important role that ICT can play in providing assistive technology to help pupils to access the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence. As many schools may find it difficult or slow to access the EHRC website directly we've provided a direct link to the Guidance document itself which is in Microsoft Word (.doc) format.

 

 

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Managing iPads in a school with Volume Purchasing and Apple Configurator

By Robert Stewart on Tuesday 18th September, 2012 at 3:31pm

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It's now much easier to manage your iPads as the Apple Volume Purchase Programme (AVPP) is finally here in the UK and allows schools to purchase multiple copies of the same app or book! However, it now appears that you still have to pay by credit card as invoicing is not available yet!!!! I'll keep checking on this and blog when they get round to enabling this vital part of the mechanism!

Once you’ve enrolled on the AVPP you can then go to Education Store and purchase your apps and books for which you will receive a 'redemption code', i.e. a serial number. These codes are managed on a spreadsheet and then uploaded to the  Apple Configurator software which allows you to manage your iPads in a much more efficient way. If you've tried iTunes and iCloud (limited to 10 restores per 90 days!) to manage your devices then you'll know it can be slow and cumbersome. 

In order to use this configurator your will need an Apple Mac computer with at least OS 10.7 installed. You can plug in your iPads individually with a USB cable but easier with a charging trolley. Although some of these 'secure' trolleys aren't very secure so you may need to find a secure area for the trolley! I'm sure if you Google 'powered usb hubs for multiple iPad synching' you'll come up with a cheaper alternative to trolleys.....maybe, if you can find one powered enough to cope with the charging of iPads.

What is Apple Configurator?

Although the software looks complicated at first it's actually very easy to master and there are many great features. Within the configurator you can do the following to your iPads:

  • Update the iOS;
  • Group iPads into class or group templates;
  • Assign a profile to each iPad to control wifi setup, iPad restrictions such as app purchasing, VPN, mail, calendar, contacts, web clips, passcodes and many more things;
  • assign apps to each iPad and link them to a previously purchased redemption code (unless the app is free and no redemption code is required);
  • assign a 'user' to each iPad, i.e. ‘Tom Jones’. This allows you to store the data for that user on the computer, i.e. a backup. The next time you assign that iPad to that user it will copy across their previous data;
  • Add documents to the iPad;
  • check iPads in and out so you can keep track of them;
  • configure setups and have them automatically rolled out to iPads the next time they are checked in;
  • Create and restore a backup of settings and app data from one device to other devices.

In summary

  1. Register for AVPP;
  2. Purchase apps on iTunes and get your redemption codes;
  3. Download Apple Configurator onto your Mac (10.7 or above);
  4. Assign the redemption codes to the apps via Apple Configurator (unless the apps are free and then no redemption code is required);
  5. Plug your iPads into the Mac (via USB);
  6. Roll out settings, apps and users to your iPads;
  7. 'Check out' the iPad.

Notes

Previously purchased apps on iTunes (before AVPP) cannot be used with the Apple Configurator, they have to be purchased through the AVPP. Unless someone can tell me otherwise?

For a more detailed explanation of the configurator have a look at the 'First look at Apple Configurator' video. It’s 11 mins long but goes through most of the things you will need to know.

What about using a Windows machine? I haven’t found anything to suggest that 'Apple Configurator' will be available for Windows in the future. However, I believe that 'iPhone Configuration Utility' will do the same on Windows but I’ve not looked into this.

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Speak Text in Microsoft Word 2010

By Stuart Aitken on Monday 27th August, 2012 at 4:32pm

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A well hidden feature in Microsoft Office 2010 is the option to speak text out. Yes, MS Office 2010 includes a text-to-speech feature. It is pretty basic but it is available.

As MS Office is integrated with Windows it means that whichever voice is selected in that computer's Control Panel will be used when you select Speak. If you have Heather or Stuart or both installed you can choose one or other of these high quality Scottish voices to speak the text. (You do this via the Control Panels rather in Word itself [Control Panels > Speech Recognition > Text-to-Speech, selecting the preferred voice from the drop down list.]

Because it is part of MS Word you can assign a Keyboard Shortcut to start and stop speaking text. This is very useful for pupils with a visual impairment, poor mouse control or simply because the pupil finds it quicker to use keyboard commands rather than mouse clicking.

MS Word is just one of the Office Programs that the Speak feature works with. It can also be made available to use with PowerPoint (yes talking PowerPoint), Excel and OneNote (one of our favourite programs that deserves more widespread use in schools). You follow the same steps to add the Speak feature in each program. 

You can also add Speak to the Quick Access Toolbar and position the toolbar below the Ribbon to simplify the interface for pupils. 

WordTalk versus Speak

So how does Speak, the MS Office 2010 text-to-speech feature compare with WordTalk, the toolbar designed to use with MS Word versions from Word 97 onwards?

In favour of Speak are the fact that it is built in not just to Word but to other MS Office 2010 software. It uses whichever voice is the Default voice used by the computer. Speak offers a range of text-to-speech options - by word, paragraph etc. A big advantage is that you can add Speak to the Quick Access toolbar, position the Quick Access toolbar below the Ribbon, and then Minimise the Ribbon (Right click on Ribbon > select Minimise). The pupil can then attend more easily to what he or she is reading or writing. Another advantage is that because it is a Microsoft product it should work smoothly with future updates to MS Office 2010 (and 2013).

Because WordTalk was designed by a teacher to support a pupil with severe dyslexia (who went on to achieve Highers), it includes features that teachers often find useful: Save as MP3 or Wav audio for listening to later; talking dictionary; an easy way to turn on and off keyboard shortcuts - a must for pupils who find it difficult to control a mouse or who just like to be able to access features quickly. The biggest advantage with WordTalk is that pupils who prefer to have text highlighted so that they can follow the text and listen to the spoken version can do so. They can also change the highlighting and text colour – useful for pupils with scotopic sensitivity problems.

Find out more

We’ve prepared a Quick Guide on Finding and Installing the Speak Text feature in MS Word 2010. The Quick Guide covers finding and adding the Speak button, assigning a Keyboard Shortcut, how to add the Speak button to the Quick Access Toolbar and how to position the toolbar below the Ribbon.

To find out about using the Speak facility in additional languages visit Microsoft’s language site

Once installed because the Speak feature is integrated with Windows it will recognise the language used within the text and read out in that language – provided the speech engine for the language is installed.

 Well done Microsoft…now please bring back Large Icons!

We’ve given Microsoft major pats on the back for providing an option to Speak text in Word documents (and in Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote). It would be great if they would bring back a couple of really useful features from MS Office 2003.

We think Microsoft made a huge own goal by not providing a much used feature in MS Word 2003, PowerPoint, Excel - the option to use Large Icons in the toolbar. 

The facility to record voice comments or voice notes is also available in MS Word 2007 and 2010 but it does not have the simplicity of MS Word 2003 – a feature that for many pupils was the difference between handing in work that they had produced themselves (recording their spoken answers in the document) or having to rely on scribing. MS Word 2007 and 2010 do provide this feature but for the pupils who are likely to benefit most, it is too difficult to access. 

 

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CALL Live: workshops delivered to your desktop!

By Craig Mill on Thursday 23rd August, 2012 at 12:49pm

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CALL Live LogoCALL Live

Call is delighted to announce that we are broadcasting a series of free short webinars ‘CALL Live’, to keep you up-to-date with new developments in ICT and inclusion. 

What is CALL Live?

CALL Live is a series of free online workshops (sometimes known as webinars) with a focus on supporting ICT and ASN in your organisation. Sessions consist of a short video introduction followed by a ‘how to’ workshop using desktop sharing. The webinars will be hosted by CALL staff with guest speakers from ICT suppliers and other professional organisations. 

What time does it start?

Each session will commence at 13.00 and is scheduled to last for 20 minutes, although depending on the amount of participation and debate they could last longer. But you are free to join or leave the session whenever you want. 

What do I need to do?

The workshops are delivered to your computer’s desktop over the Internet. To book your place at one of the events (see What's on the programme below) simply send an email to Craig (indicating which event you want to attend) and he will send you the link for the webinar. On the day of the webinar, a couple of minutes before the start, click on the link and you will be directed to Adobe Connect, where you can sign in to join the workshop. 

All you need is a pair of headphones (with a microphone) for your computer, then simply tune-in to view, or even participate in the workshop. Please check your headphones are working before you enter the workshop. 

What if I miss a workshop?

Each workshop will be recorded and archived which means that if you miss a session, you can watch it again at a time that’s convenient to you. Links to the recorded sessions will be posted on the CALL website. 

What’s on the programme?

  • 30 August (Thursday), Craig Mill on the Ease of Access Guide in Windows 7
  • 11 September (Tuesday), Ian Bean on switch access and iPads.
  • 2 October (Tuesday), Jamie Munro on Co:Writer
  • 10 October (Wednesday), Dr. Margaret Crombie on the recently revised Dyslexia Teachers’ Toolkit
  • 23 October (Tuesday), Tina Detheridge on Widgit software
  • 13 November (Tuesday), Dougal Hawes on the Grid 2
  • 20 November (Tuesday) Bryan Adamson - an overview of Clicker 6
Email Craig to book one or more of the webinars

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iPad Apps and integrative workflows to support learners with literacy difficulties/dyslexia

By Craig Mill on Wednesday 22nd August, 2012 at 1:02pm

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If you are interested in using the iPad to support your pupils then you will probably be familiar with the large number of websites that have appeared over the past year offering ‘lists of Apps’ to support a range of difficulties including communication, literacy, numeracy etc. Some examples include Apps to support AAC, Apps to support literacy as well as Apps to support magnification and vision

While these are useful resources, particularly if you’re new to the iPad and unsure which Apps to download (and feeling a bit overwhelmed with so many Apps to choose from), lists of endless Apps have their limitations. 

As Apps become increasingly more sophisticated and offer improved features and options, I think there is much to be gained from using the built-in sharing and export features to create ‘integrative workflows’ for pupils. Using integrative workflows is about exploiting what an App has to offer or making the most of its main features. For example, there are a number of ‘literacy support’ Apps which have a ‘Send to App’ option, allowing learners to plan an essay using a mind map, export the mind map to a text-to-speech App for proof reading and finally sending the text to a word processor for formatting, final spell checking and submission. 

This is a similar approach for pupils with dyslexia when writing an essay or project – use a visual mind map to get down the main points, use nodes and notes to expand on ideas and finally export the mind map to a word processing program such as Word. Additional support in the form of word prediction or text-to-speech, is often provided via programs such as TextHelp Read&Gold, Co:Writer or even Penfriend. 

If you would like to find out more I’ve written a short article which explains this process in 4 simple steps. You can download the article by selecting this link

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Spotlight on Speech, Language and Communication Needs

By Sally Millar on Thursday 16th August, 2012 at 2:08pm

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Linguist and language specialist Gordon Wells wrote "Almost every educational skill presupposes the use of language."

ICAN highlights an interesting new statistic from the Department of Education (England and Wales) showing that speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) is the most commonly reported special educational need amongst primary school children - more prevalent than autism and dyslexia. SLCN is also a feature of other additional support needs arising from, for example,  hearing impairment and learning difficulties.  Unidentified language/communication difficulties could be at the heart of the challenges faced /presented by children with behavioural problems, or those who are reluctant to engage or who make slow progress.  

All of this highlights the need for more training for all education staff on how to identify SLCN (as early as possible) and how to develop children's communication skills. 

Another recent article calls SLCN "the most common childhood disability"  and discusses the link between language & communication difficulties, school exclusion and youth offending, 

The Talking Point website provides an excellent resource of information to help you identify typical and atypical language development.

You can also evaluate your own (or group) skills and knowledge by completing the online Speech, Language and Communication Framework (SLCF) .

Find out more on the ICAN web site, including the Talk Boost programme that can raise childrens' language skills in 18 weeks. 

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Sounding Board App is now free

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 31st July, 2012 at 4:55pm

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CALL is not endorsing this particular App over and above other similar Apps, but just to alert you to a price change - 

Version 3.1.1 of AbleNet's simple photo-based communication App Sounding Board, which used to cost £35, is now available as a free download  on the iTunes App Store (possibly for a limited time only). You can then make your own communication boards and/or purchase pre-made boards, in-App

For a review see here

For a video introduction / tutorial, see here

Switch access , with auditory scanning, using the RJ Cooper Blue2 switch (from Therapy Box) , or the APPlicator /Switch4Apps switch interface (from Inclusive Technology or Therapy Box) is available for more details of switch/scanning,, see here

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Sign Language Training available

By Sally Millar on Monday 30th July, 2012 at 12:05pm

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There are interesting evening courses running this autumn at Donaldsons School in Linlithgow on British Sign Language, lip-reading, and deaf awareness. The sign language courses in particular may be of interest to those who use sign with children with complex communication support needs (who may not be deaf) and wish to become more confident and fluent signers themselves and/or who find that the reduced vocabulary available through Signalong or Makaton needs supplementing in order to meet children's immediate communication needs and to build linguistic skills. Accredited Introductory, Level 1 and Level 2 BSL courses available (these courses are few and far between and can be hard to get a place on, so book early!) and are approved by ILA Scotland (for possible funding support).

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