Professional Development News: Learner Support

 “One of the best CPD courses I have ever been involved in.” Participant Evaluator, vMCB Pilot, June 2013.

vmcb logo for blogManaging Challenging Behaviour (vMCB) is a new course delivered entirely online using a combination of live, interactive classroom sessions and on-going coursework.

If you’ve ever wondered how psychological theory informs the practical, day-to-day strategies used to manage behaviour – this is the course for you!

Aimed at learning facilitators from a range of support settings, (e.g. learning assistants, mentors, teaching staff, employability coaches) the course costs £270 and is delivered over 9 sessions for a period of 3 months.

The next scheduled vMCB course starts in January 2014, but may be available sooner if you have a group of employees or colleagues ready to start.

vESW_logoIf you can’t wait till January to begin eLearning with BRITE, how about starting with our course Educational Support Workers: Professionalism in Practice (vESW) which runs Sept-Dec 2013?

vESW is a practical course, suitable for professionals who are involved in facilitating learning for individuals with additional support needs. The first vESW session is on 17th September 2013, so if you intend to apply for this course, act now!

By completing both these courses, you achieve a Professional Development Award in Learner Support, accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority. Apply now at

ICT and Inclusion Presentations: Part 2

Today, we’re following on from our previous post on ICT and Inclusion 2013 – which summarised BRITE presentations on tablets and accessibility, and easy video captioning.

Here, BRITE Training Manager Niall Hardie gives an overview of two more presentations from the event: using what you already have as inclusive learning tools, and tips on effective iPad use for students.

It’s likely that these seminars will feature in our online webinar programme this session so keep a lookout for the details published on the BRITE website, and through our eNews (subscribe via the BRITE homepage).

Using What You Already Have

This session focused on using tools that many people commonly have on them already, or that are easily and freely available online.  A key example of that is the ubiquitous Smart Phone.  The way the mobile phone market has developed, it will soon be hard to purchase a phone that is not categorised as a smart phone, and these phones often come with capabilities that can be effectively used to assist study and work.

Smart phones can be used as a digital recorder to capture key points in lectures, or to record an immediate verbal summary of a completed class.  The built-in cameras can be used to capture information on boards, in books, examples of practical work, and so on – they can also be used to video processes and demonstrations.  There are also a wide variety of apps that can be explored – certainly too many to do justice to in a short blog post!

The other options to explore include using Google Drive for free storage and to make use of the range of online software tools for word processing and other activities – available on any internet connected computer, with the added help of Google’s very effective spellchecker.  Finally, other powerful tools to explore are Evernote (for collating notes, research and ideas) and Evernote Clearly – a tool that enables you to read the main text on a webpage without the peripheral visual noise of adverts, banners and links.

Effective iPad Use for Students

This seminar looked at the key tasks that most students need to undertake, and considered how the iPad might make that more effective and more efficient.  Here is a concise list of some ideas – but be aware that there are hundreds of thousands of apps out there, so this is a list of ideas that I know work, but there will be others that can do a similar job.

  • Reading: iBooks; Safari Reader; Instapaper; Kindle – and utilise the built-in voice to speech option
  • Writing: Pages – and consider using an external keyboard and monitor for extended writing
  • Notetaking: Evernote; Notability – and make use of the camera for pictures and video
  • Research: Instant on and access to wifi; dependent on good institutional use of wifi and online resources
  • Mind Mapping: Inspiration; iThoughtsHD
  • Organisation: 2Do; Calendar
  • Communicating/Collaborating: FaceTime; iMessage; email

Do you have a favourite iPad app of particular use to students? Let us know in the comments!

ICT and Inclusion Presentations

Fil McIntyre presentingFor the third year running, BRITE partnered with CALL Scotland to deliver ICT and Inclusion: Two days of seminars and exhibition targeted at people working to include learners with additional support needs.  Niall Hardie and Fil McIntyre from BRITE were both presenting semimars on technology which may assist learners. With twenty exhibitors and twenty eight seminars, the days were pretty full and some people were unable to get to hear Niall and Fil.  A summary of Fil’s seminars is below, with Niall’s to follow shortly.

Tablets and Accessibility: iPad vs. Android vs. Windows

This session featured a brief run through of the accessibility options on the three main tablet operating systems.  iOS (on the iPad) came out strongest by far with a wide range of visual and cognitive support options (and more to come in iOS7), but this is not to dismiss Android and Windows.  Fil was keen to point out that users’ accessibility may be down to the size or format of the tablet.  In this case Android offers a much wider choice due to the amount of manufacturers providing Android tablets.

For Windows 8 tablets the accessibility options are very similar to a desktop PC, but (for example) provide a much wider range of high contrast display settings when compared to iOS’s normal or negative option.  Also the fact that a Windows 8 tablet can run full versions of Windows software may open it up as a possibility for users who cannot find an app equivalent to their access software.

BRITE can provide half-day seminars on the subject of tablet useage.  Two examples are “Tablet Tools” and “Bring Your Own Accessibility”.

Getting Captions Onto Your Video the Easy Way

Captioned videos can assist not only deaf students, but also those for whom English is a second language.  It is generally time consuming and expensive to get the captions onto videos. In this session Fil showed how to easily synchronise a transcript to your video by uploading both the transcript and the video to Youtube.  Youtube’s voice recognition will ensure the correct text is shown at the time it is spoken.

For further practical details on how to do this see this earlier post on the BRITE blog.

…and the first Investors in Inclusiveness CharterMark goes to…

iii award presentation mhairi and alisonIf you were one of the 100+ professionals who joined us at the state-of-the-art facilities of Coatbridge College Conference Centre for the first Investors in Inclusiveness conference on the 31st of May, you’ll already know which college has the chunky, laser-engraved crystal award on its mantelpiece. You’ll also know what a lively programme everyone participated in. It was inspiring to see so many delegates from such diverse backgrounds come together for the day to focus on inclusiveness in practice.

In addition to the presentation of the first Investors in Inclusiveness CharterMark to Forth Valley College, delegates enjoyed a variety of themed workshops, an engaging keynote from Karen Corbett HMIE, and an update on the review of Disabled Students Allowance from Neil MacLennan of the Scottish Government.

Looking to learn more about what it means to be the first recipient of the Investors in Inclusiveness award? Watch the video and read FVC’s response. To speak to BRITE directly about participating in Investors in Inclusiveness, or to request a mini brochure, email or call us on +44 (0)1383 749605.

® Investors in Inclusiveness is a registered trade mark of The BRITE Initiative

Deaf-initely Accessible? Exploring best practice working with and supporting deaf students

We’ve added a new workshop to the Investors in Inclusiveness conference programme. If you join us on 31st May, in addition to engaging key note speakers, a range of workshops, and the opportunity to network with key influencers and policy-shapers, you’ll also have the option to attend this workshop, scheduled just after lunch to run concurrently with our graduation ceremony.

Yvonne Waddell and Veronica Nelson of NATED Scotland will lead this 30 minute session, asking: Is your college providing the best service it could for the needs of deaf students? This interactive and informative session will cover deaf and communication support awareness, what good practice looks like in context, and how NATED Scotland can support, advise and work with your team to ensure you truly match the needs of your deaf students.

You will be able to sign up for this workshop on the day.

Click here for more details about the conference, and a link to the booking form.

FREE ICT and Inclusion exhibitions in June 2013

ICT and Inclusion is Scotland’s leading annual exhibition with a focus on the use of ICT to support learners with additional support needs. BRITE is excited to once again partner with CALL Scotland on this event, which this year, will be held at:

  • CALL Scotland, University of Edinburgh, 18th June 2013
  • Thistle Hotel, Glasgow, 19th June 2013

Up to 20 of the UK’s leading suppliers of software and technology to support learners with additional support needs will take part in the exhibition and give short presentations on their latest products.

There will also be short presentations by staff from BRITE, CALL and local schools, colleges and services, illustrating the use of technology to support learning.

The days are free to attend and run from 9.00 until 4.00 pm. Lunch is provided for people who book in advance.

Though ICT and Inclusion is aimed mainly at staff from schools and colleges, equipment and software on display may be of interest to adults with disabilities and the people who support them.

For more details about the venues, exhibition timetable, exhibitors and online booking visit

Investors in Inclusiveness conference – Friday 31st May 2013

This free event brings together practitioners and policy shapers throughout Scotland (and beyond) to:

  • Hear from leading educators and innovators in the field of Inclusion
  • Learn more about the new CharterMark Investors in Inclusiveness® (IiI)
  • Participate in two themed workshops (from a choice of 8) which explore the IiI quality standards
  • Receive up-to-the-minute news on the Scottish Government’s current review of Student Support funding (including DSA)

Delegates will be able to engage with policy makers, practitioners and fellow professionals in a series of keynotes, presentations, question and answer sessions, case studies and workshops.

Refreshments and lunch will be served during breaks throughout the day, giving opportunities to network with peers, speakers and workshop facilitators – and to enjoy the state-of-the-art facilities at the Coatbridge College Conference Centre, where this event is being held.

Click here to register

® Investors in Inclusiveness is a registered trade mark of The BRITE Initiative

DART2 Workshop 1: Assessment for Assistive Technology

Thanks to Margaret McKay, Inclusion Advisor at Jisc RSC Scotland, for this report on what happened at the first DART2 workshop in Scotland on February 7th 2013 at the College Development Network, which looked at assessment for assistive technology.


Selection of hardware at the Dart2 workshopThe first sessions were presented by Rohan Slaughter (Head of Technology at Beaumont College) and Mike Thrussell (Assistive Technology Coordinator at Henshaws College).

They spoke about the importance of assessment, highlighting the skills and knowledge required by assessors and the importance of working in partnership with other stakeholders (the learner, family, carers, health professionals and relevant others).

Margaret McKay of Jisc RSC Scotland highlighted theoretical perspectives that underpin the assessment process, and the importance of placing the student at the centre of the process in order to find the best fit between the learner and their environment.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Book review: ‘Learning Styles and Inclusion’ by Gavin Reid

learning styles and inclusionCarol Boyle, Mentor and Development Officer at The BRITE Initiative, finds accessible and practical content in this book by internationally recognised educational psychologist, Dr Gavin Reid.

Learning Styles and Inclusion by Gavin Reid (SAGE Publications Ltd, 2005) provides practical examples of how to make learning more effective and how to recognise the needs of learners, as well as those of the teaching staff.  Importantly, the key point being made in the book is that learning styles can provide teaching staff with an opportunity to identify the needs of individual learners and at the same time recognise the needs of all the learners in the classroom.

My favourite part of the book was the introduction of practical activities which I could adopt and use with my learners as they begin to realise that they learnt in different ways, but also could adapt to the various learning environments.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about learning styles and their impact on the learner and their learning environment – which can then be manipulated to help learners achieve their goals.  It is not a complicated book with lots of jargon – it’s extremely easy to read and use.

Learning Styles and Inclusion on (includes a ‘look inside’ preview)