Ayrshire College

IAIN STRACHAN

Inclusive Learning Officer

Ayrshire College (Kilmarnock, Ayr & Kilwinning)

Ayrshire College has three campuses across the councils that make up Ayrshire; East Ayrshire, Kilmarnock campus, South Ayrshire, Ayr campus and North Ayrshire, Kilwinning campus.  This college has students ranging from 16 to mature students of any age.  We also have school students who attend twice a week.

Across the 3 campuses we cater for circa, 11,000 students. Here at the Kilmarnock Campus around 20 students have access arrangements which involve the ExamReader Pen.

As an Inclusive Learning Officer at Ayrshire College I am always trying to keep abreast of any assistive technologies that can help students with various learning difficulties.  I came across the ReaderPen, specifically the ExamReader at an Assistive Technology event at the Golden Jubilee Hotel in Glasgow on the 15th June 2017 and was immediately excited about how it could be used to assist students. Many students with difficulties with processing information and students with dyslexia can sometimes misread questions during exams.  This can lead them to write a great answer to the wrong question.

On returning back to Ayrshire campus I brought this technology to the attention of my team leader who spoke to the Head of Inclusive Learning.  They both agreed that this technology was something that the college should invest in.  Now, at the end of 2018, the three campuses that make up Ayrshire College have at least half a dozen of these devices, both ExamReader and the ReaderPen each.  These devices are very popular with the students.

I am now presenting AT workshops across the campuses to different classes to inform all students, not just those with needs assessments, of the assistive technologies that are available.  One of the most popular items during these presentations is the reader pen.  Students like the compact size and how it can be set up for left and right-handed users.  Additionally, the fact that it is quite discreet and can be used with headphones was something the students commented on.

Student A, studying IMI Motor Vehicle at the Kilmarnock campus, uses the ExamReader. This student said this technology was a ’miracle’. They added it also boosted their confidence because they knew they would not get the words mixed up, so knew they were answering the question asked.

Student B, studying HNC Coaching & Developing Sport at the Kilmarnock campus, thought it ‘really helped’.  They said it made answering set questions clearer as they knew they would not misinterpret the information.  This student also liked the fact they could sit in the class with their peers and do the assessment without being taken out due to the headphones.

This equipment could be adapted in various ways but one that students have brought up is they would like to be able to use it on their laptop or desk top screens.  I don’t know how viable this would be.

I find this assistive technology a great learning tool and would definitely recommend it to other schools and colleges.   We are always looking at ways to make students more independent learners and this technology definitely helps them to achieve this.