Tuesday, 25 November 2014

ATbar - Accessibility block

The accessibility block allows the user to change the look and feel of the course page to increase and decrease font sizes, have text read aloud, use coloured overlays, readability and a dictionary to aid reading. Spell check and try word prediction when writing.

It is designed for those who may not have their assistive technologies to hand and need a quick way of accessing text on the screen with magnification and/or text to speech etc. It can help those with low vision, dyslexia, other reading difficulties as well as those who may wish to just reduce the glare of black text on bright white backgrounds. It is not designed for regular screen reader users who need their assistive technology to access the computer as well as their browser.

At SOAS we have added the accessibility block to appear on the right hand side of all our Moodle courses to improve accessibility.

This is how the accessibility block appears within Moodle:

If the user clicks on the Launch ATbar then the following set of options appear at the top of their internet browser:

 Fix the web plug-in
Allows users to report accessibility issues with a website. Volunteers then take these issues forward with website owners to encourage improvements.
Allows the user to increase or decrease the size of text
Allows users to change the font and line spacing changes of the text.
 Spell Checker
Whilst writing in a plain text form suggestions are shown to the user below the text-area after a pause. Please note that this may not work with rich-text editors that already have spell checkers.
Users can highlight a word in the web page and a definition from Wiktionary will appear.
A user can have a highlighted text read aloud. Please note that large pages may require a user to select smaller portions of text at a time.
Is a service that converts the page into text only to reduce the 'clutter' to make it easier for the user to read the content.
 Word prediction
Works with most plain text edit forms. Simply select the menu button and begin typing, then allow a second for the word list to appear after the first few letters. It allows users to finish the word or choose another. It can help with spelling, word finding and may even speed typing. 
Allows the user to change look and feel of the ATbar toolbar, change the web page colours – background, text and links or choose pre-made page styles.
Provides a colour tint over the entire webpage. You will see a choice of colours – cream, pink, pale blue and pale green. These buttons toggle the colour overlay on and off. 

Restores the webpage back to its original style.
 Exits the ATbar

Friday, 14 November 2014

Create visually-rich interactive timelines with Timeline JS

TimelineJS is an easy-to-use open-source JavaScript library tool that enables you to build visually-rich interactive timelines and is available in 40 languages.
Timeline can automatically pull in content Twitter, Flickr, Google Maps, YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Wikipedia and SoundCloud and many other media types.Click here to open the Google Spreadsheet template you will need to create your timeline. Please note that you will need to have a Google Drive account for basic use 

Here is an example of the Google spreadsheet template that I have amended:

When you insert your data into the Google spreadsheet make sure you not to remove any columns or column headers or to leave any blank rows.

In addition to the timelines below some of our course leaders have been exploring the use of timeline for their courses whereby each week would have a reading or link in the timeline for the student to read prior to coming to the lecture.

Examples of Timelines

Nelson Mandela's Extraordinary Life

WWDC in the era of the iPhone 

Al Jazeera: Egypt in Turmoil

History of Ghana

Marketing transmedia: Prometheus

Spokesman-Review: A History of Hats

Whitney Houston 1963 - 2012

Revolutionary User Interfaces

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Padlet - online multimedia board

Padlet is an Internet application that allows people to express their thoughts on a common topic easily. It works like an online sheet of paper where people can put any content (e.g. images, videos, documents, text) anywhere on the page, together with anyone, from any device. 

Think of it like a multimedia friendly, free-form, real-time wiki.

Padlet is a web application that consists of a web page “wall” where content can be posted, viewed and commented on by multiple people. The function of your wall depends entirely on what you create; you can make a wall where students come to view content uploaded and managed by an instructor, or create a wall that is used as an open forum where anyone can post and discuss content. Padlet is incredibly easy to use and a great way to share and manage content with others in an intuitive and fun way. 

Ideas for using a Padlet on your course
  1. Icebreakers – post an icebreaker question on a wall and invite students to get to know one another and build community.
  2. Inquiry – before starting course, ask students to post questions they have about the topic.
  3. Previous knowledge – ask students to brainstorm everything they know about a topic before they begin studying it.
  4. Predictions – allow students to predict the outcome of something, e.g. an election outcome.
  5. Context clues – post a picture of a person, culturally significant scene or moment from history and ask students to explore and discuss context clues.
  6. Vocabulary development – post words on the wall and ask students to collaboratively add definitions, synonyms and pictures to help all students better understand the vocabulary.
  7. Label – post a picture of a cell, piece of art work, or map and ask students to label the parts with names and information.
  8. Exit– find out what students learned and what areas they are unsure about.
  9. Brainstorming – a class can be asked to collect and share ideas about a given topic.
  10. Portfolio - students can use it as portfolio where they display their best work.

Visit http://padlet.com/gallery to see other example of Padlet walls.

To start creating your own Padlet visit http://padlet.com