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    Students with severe learning difficulties embrace new digital technology

    Getting feedback, gaining trust, learning about their family, engaging with a learner; it’s unquestionable that all these seem essential when getting to know your students.

    When you then factor in that the student may have severe learning difficulties, finding a piece of software that is going to help with all these important stages, along with assessment process, would understandably seem to be the holy grail.

    When Jeannie Donald-McKim, a Pathways tutor at Abingdon & Witney College, saw a demonstration of some software back in 2015, she thought she had seen the future and after four years, this vision became a reality. Rix Media and MultiMe presented the latest upgrade to a piece of software that has revolutionised the delivery and assessment of the Pathways programme.

    The project, led by Jeannie’s colleague, Sam Sheppard, has seen the introduction of WikiMe – user-centred software that is the brainchild of Rix Media, combined with a social media platform developed by MultiMe. Together they have tested variations of this joint venture in the east end of London and Hertfordshire but the College’s Witney campus became the testing ground for the new beta version of the software.

    It allows students to upload videos and images, set goals and more importantly set up a circle of friends, all in a safe and secure setting. Pathways 2 students are so proficient that they advise students from Pathway 1 as how to use WikiMe.

    The software also allows staff to also set goals, to evidence tasks being completed and even message students off-site on work experience to be able to update progress. Watch the video below to get an insight into the project:

    Abingdon & Witney College has invested in the project purchasing licences for the next three years for staff and students. Staff involved in the project have given detailed feedback to the developers as one of the research partners for the project. It has allowed the company to improve its software in a ‘real world’ situation. The staff have also been advocates, sharing its usefulness to the parents and explaining how it can be a vital part of the teaching experience.

    Jeannie said: “What’s fantastic about this software is it’s student-led; they take the videos, they upload it, they choose their circle of friends. The enjoyment on their faces when they present their work back to the group is electric!”

    She added: “This is self-advocacy in its purest form.”

    (March 2019)

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