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What is the HEAT Scheme?The Higher Education Assistive Technology Scheme (HEAT) Scheme from TechDis offers funding to investigate innovative learning approaches using technology to assist student learning. The scheme is intended to raise awareness of the potential of assistive technologies to enhance the experiences of students and explore good or innovative practice that can be achieved with a small amount of technology provision.
Funding is offered across all twenty-four of the Subject Centres and, to date, three rounds of HEAT funding have been officered, round 1 in Autumn 2006, round 2 in Spring 2007 and round 3 in Summer 2008. The main outcomes of the projects are case studies on the use of the assistive technology funded through the scheme, enabling dissemination of practice across the biosciences and potentially the wider disciplines.
Case studies of the HEAT projects from all disciplines are available from TechDis and a summary of the HEAT1 projects by Simon Ball (TechDis Senior Advisor) was published in the ALT (Association for Learning Technology) Newsletter in April 2007.
This page brings together links to the bioscience based projects and related resources. For a full list of all HEAT projects please visit the TechDis website.
Jon Scott, Alan Cann and Joanne Badge, School of Biological Sciences, University of Leicester
Project outline: Over the last two years, we have successfully rolled out the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment within the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Leicester. Every undergraduate module is now represented on the VLE, providing supporting material and improving access for all students. Podcasting is currently focusing attention on the potential for audio teaching materials. In order to enhance accessibility for all students, increased online use of audio teaching materials via the VLE was promoted, employing the same peer-to-peer strategy which was so successful in rapid adoption of the VLE initially.
School of Life Sciences, Keele University
Project outline: Course materials in Neuroscience and Biology degree programmes were transformed to make them suitable for the visually impaired (VI). The change went beyond the adaptation of existing material (large print, screen readers, Braille versions of handouts and the like) to creating new exercises for VI students enabling them to attain the same learning outcomes as fully sighted students. The concept was not to improve accessibility to practical exercises designed for sighted students, but to create completely new learning experiences to enable VI (including blind) students to form concepts and attain intellectual skills expected of graduates in these subjects.
Rebecca McCready, School of Medical Education Development, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University
Project outline: Claro’s ScreenRuler software was installed on a selection of student computers within the Faculty of Medical Sciences and use of the software monitored during IT Skills sessions by a range of students to evaluate the perceived benefits and range of use of the software.
Use of a Mobile Phone to Stream Context Specific Audio Information to Students with Visual Impairment
Alasdair Thin, School of Life Sciences , Heriot-Watt University
Project outline: In a science practical class a major proportion of the information a student is required to assimilate is communicated via visual media (e.g. written instructions, notes). This presents significant barriers to participation by students with visual impairment. This project aimed to overcome these barriers by building on technology widely used in Japan involving the tagging of items with mobile camera phone readable 2D bar codes to enable the viewer to interact in some way (e.g. contact number, SMS text message or URL) without relying on user input.
Morven Shearer, School of Biology, University of St Andrews
Project outline: There were two strands to this project:
Joanne Badge, Jon Scott and Alan Cann, School of Biological Sciences, University of Leicester
Project outline: HEAT funding for ACCESS (Audio Content Creation for Educational SuccesS) provided a pool of microphones and two digital mp3 recorders to encourage the inclusion of audio in online teaching materials. Following feedback from students and an exploration of the types of content presented using audio; we concluded that some content required video and image content to make it understandable. This follow up project focused on increasing the use of video, and supporting transcripts in learning materials in the School of Biological Sciences.
Stephen McClean and Paul Hagan, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster
Project outline: The project was designed to introduce a level of reflection into year 1 chemistry practical classes taken by bioscience students. The idea of doing this using a video sharing website had the advantage of employing an engaging technology that would (hopefully) engender cohort identity and inclusivity in a large heterogeneous first year group where transition and retention issues can sometimes be a problem. Students were given the video cameras to record reflective videos during first-year practical classes, which were then uploaded to the laptop and afterwards transferred to a video sharing site created specifically for the project
Project outline: The project team were awarded video and sound recording equipment a transcription pedal and Scribe software to create instructional videos about working in a laboratory for placement students which were were hosted on the University's Moodle VLE. The department of Biology and Biochemistry typically sends 150 students per year on national and international placements (mainly USA, Europe and Australia) for periods of six to twelve months. Students are usually in the second and third year of their study. There are currently two dedicated placement officers and all academic staff involved in either assessments or visits. Most placement support is through e-mails which can sometimes be ineffective or repetitive. The creation of a learning resource package hosted on the internal VLE, Moodle, was an ideal strategy to support skills for research, training and technical methods.
Alan Cann, Jo Badge, Stuart Johnson and Alex Moseley, School of Biological Sciences, University of Leicester
Project outline: The project team was awarded ten 8GB iPod Touch devices, chosen because they are easy to use, have wifi capability and a high quality screen. This project aimed to utilise mobile technology to ascertain the study spaces used by students at University of Leicester. Free wifi access is readily available on the University of Leicester campus, and students were required to use the Twitter microblogging system regularly to record short messages describing where and what they are studying using an iPod touch (or on a personal mobile phone via SMS if they chose). Student messages were tracked by RSS and data aggregated centrally for analysis.