Here at Clever Towers on Tuesday I had to pleasure to once again meet Robyn Steward, this time to film her for a website that Cleveratom (2006-2011) are building for the pioneering regional centre for students with autistic learning disorders at City College Norwich.
The first time I met Robyn (at the BETT Show) I had the challenge of being one of the presenters straight after her, which is no easy task considering she is an excellent presenter and had the audience fully engaged. Robyn presented to people associated to education about Asperger syndrome. Robyn has it.
Robyn is a former student of the City College Norwich and was part of the pioneering RUGroom (Really Useful Group Room) Pilot Project which all started on the main campus three years ago. RUGroom is about supporting students with AS through college life, and is the jewel in the City College crown.
Robyn had a tough time at secondary school and finally started to reach her potential once at college and placed under the wing of Dr Danusia Latosinski and her team. Danusia has worked tirelessly to build funding, a space and a dedicated team who help provide the best learning and social opportunities for students with AS. I know nowhere in the UK college system where education provision for these students comes anywhere close as what City College is providing, and I’ve been to and worked in a lot of colleges. RUGroom is everything research should be, exciting, experimental, risk taking, reflective and very good fun.
For the past year I’ve had the pleasure of working with Danusia and her team to help develop the learning technology side of her project and have had some very proud moments when watching some students find potential when engaging with the latest technology. To find out more about the whole RUGroom project and Cleveratom (2006-2011)’s involvement read this on our digitalcreativity.org website.
Robyn’s time with City College pre-dates my involvment in the project and she is evidence in her own right that by providing students with the right enabling support, opportunity and encouragement some pretty amazing things can happen. Robyn was a student when the modern ‘RUGroom’ did not exist, but helped define and refine effective teaching and learning with the staff of the college how to best meet the needs of students with AS.
Through the RUGroom programme City College have helped Robyn to discover and reach her potential and Robyn is now settled in a role as a busy Asperger’s Trainer based in London. She has built herself in to a brand and markets herself as a way helping people understand what AS is and means to the world and is helping other people with Aspergers find a better life for themself.
Here she is on Channel 4 being interviewed by John Snow, interviewed for the Guardian, and here is the very informative article she has written for about.com. Robyn has a blog too.
After filming Robyn (in one take!) I had the opportunity to demonstrate to her rugroom.net which is a social online environment built by Cleveratom (2006-2011) developers alongside AS students of City College. Rugroom.net exists as a safe online social network come learning space for students with aspergers, designed by students with aspergers.
If you ever get the opportunity to see Robyn present about AS, go and see her. She is not traditional, she won’t put you through powerpoint hell and she’ll involve you in her presentation and most importantly, leave you walking away thinking. I’ve seen a lot of presentations over the years (and slept through a lot too) and I rate Robyn world class, in demand internationally; next stop America.
Robyn’s website can be found at www.robynsteward.com