Guest Blog: Disseminating Assistive Roles and Technology

Margaret McKay, Inclusion Advisor at Jisc RSC Scotland, provides some background to the DART2 Project. Check back soon for Margaret’s overview of what happened at the first DART2 training event to take place in Scotland.

JISC Advance and Dart logosThe Disseminating Assistive Roles and Technology (DART2) Project is one of 33 initiatives funded by Jisc Advance FE and Skills Project.

Launched in response to the Government’s pledge to improve learning across the UK, DART2 provides free training for those involved in providing assistive technology support for disabled learners, and aims to create a culture of collaboration across post-16 learning providers in FE colleges in the UK.

This initiative, coordinated by a consortium of Independent Specialist Colleges is led by Beaumont College, National Star College and Henshaws College. It is also supported by NATSPEC (The Association of National Specialist Colleges), the College Development Network, and by the Jisc Regional Support Centres and Jisc Techdis.

The project aims to provide a partnership and collaborative approach to:

  • Improving Assistive Technology (AT) practice in the sector;
  • Enable the replication of the innovative Assistive Technologist role;
  • Produce Assistive Technology case studies for the sector.

Deep Support

In August 2013 FE colleges across the UK were invited to become participants in deep support offering successful applicants:

  • Personalised staff training within their college.
  • Assistance in implementation of AT solutions with/for specific learners.
  • Assistance with the development of assistive technologist style roles, (including recruitment assistance or re-training if appropriate).
  • Access to assessment kits that will be purchased by the project.
  • A total of four days contact time allocated to each provider and access to telephone support and access to one week of work shadowing.

Two Scottish Colleges – Kilmarnock College and Edinburgh College – are amongst the ten institutions across the UK selected to become recipients and partners in this deep support.

Legacy Resources

As the project develops, a library of case studies and other web resources will be created to ensure that the experiences of those accessing ‘deep support’ can be shared with the sector.  It is hoped that these assets will provide a legacy of resources beyond the projects existence and will be of benefit to the wider sector.  These resources will be available on the DART Project website.

In addition, a summative conference will take place, which will provide an overview of the initiative a summary of the project outputs, sessions on appropriate topics.

Wider Support

The DART2 initiative also aims to offer wider support to the sector in the shape of three workshop days throughout the academic year 2012/2013.  At the early stages of the initiative, a research project was commissioned by NATSPEC in order to get a picture of current assistive technology the post 16 sector, and staff supporting students with disabilities across the UK were invited to respond.

The survey also asked providers to outline areas in which they would most like training and support.  The results have informed the content of the free workshop series the project is offering. These workshops are open access to the wider post-16 sector and will run twice, once in central England and once in central Scotland.

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