AS (Aspergers Syndrome) students at City College Norwich were on fine form at Professor Stephen Heppell’s annual ‘Be Very Afraid’ event held at London’s BAFTA headquarters in Piccadilly on Monday 27 October 2008.
Professor Heppell runs the event (now in its 5th year) to showcase the extraordinary projects involving new technologies in learning throughout the UK. The projects range from primary schools right through to undergraduates. Ten learning institutions were picked to show their stuff and inspire others.
I’ll explain a little more about the AS students undertaking this work after I’ve explained the 3DGeoArt project they were showcasing at BAFTA first…
First the learners start by looking at a local area on a map:
Next they look for shapes… Shapes are made up by roads and routes in the local areas, the students draw out the shape (which also is the route for the art). Below is the ’slipper’ shape the students spotted in a map of Norwich drawn in a blue line. Next to the drawing is a ‘Trackstick’ (GPS device):
Other shapes found include ‘icecream’, ‘cars’ and ‘cupcakes’.
With the map in hand they then walk to the selected start point of the shape and turn on the Trackstick device and wait for it to locate its place in the world using satellites. Once the Trackstick has locked on the red flashing light changes to green and the students begin the walk around the route they have planned:
Returning to the college the students then plug the Trackstick into a computer running Windows:
Next the students use the ‘Trackstick Manager’ software that comes with the device to download the GPS data collected by the Trackstick from the walk:
From the software the students are then able to export the route as a .kmz file. Lots of pieces of software are able to read .kmz files (see here) and one of those applications is Google Earth (which is free). The students open the .kmz file in Google Earth:
The red line is the actual data recording the students route. They have now created a ’slipper’ by successfully navigating a route on a map.
Here is a video of the students reviewing and navigating their route virtually:
More information on the Trackstick can be found here and the device can be bought from online stores all over the world for around £80 each.
The students then experimented further and have gone on to explore how to make 3D images of things they see on their route, using 3D glasses, that they can then upload back into Google Earth for the rest of the world to see.
Here is an image (copyright Alex Layzell) taken on a GeoArt route…
Here is the image being converted into 3D:
Here is a video of the image being made into 3D:
And here is the final product (best viewed in 3D glasses!…
Here is Danusia Latosinski, head of the Regional Centre for Learners with Autistic Spectrum Disorders at City College Norwich looking at Jack’s 3D Art…
If you would like to view and explore the slipper yourself on Google Earth here is the file, download it and open in Google Earth.
Here is an another example created on the day of ‘Be Very Afraid 5′. The learners start and stop point for this GeoArt Ship is ‘BAFTA’:
Now a bit of background…
Over the past year the Cleveratom team have been working closely with City College Norwich to design and develop a new learning and social space for students with AS, these students are on the autistic spectrum.
‘RUGroom’ (Really Useful Group room) is nearly a year old and exists both physically (as a large multi-purpose space) and virtually (in an online learning platform designed exclusively for and by the learners who use it). Around 80 students at the college have AS and RUGroom and its staff and courses exist to support these learners into mainstream courses, and employment.
To see more pictures and find out more about Rugroom and its launch read this article (well worth a look).
RUGroom is a fantastic learning space which is a safe haven helping learners overcome challenges, engage with each other, find and reach their potential, and excel. We’ve been working with staff and learners to find interesting and engaging ways of using technology to support learning. Map reading and navigation can be an issue for some students so by developing the 3DGeoArt idea staff are able to support this learning in an interesting and engaging way.
To do this work learners have to:
- work independently and in groups
- explore and develop ideas
- practice their social and communication skills
- plan, prepare and think about opportunities and risks
- develop photography skills on route
- explore their locality and challenge navigation skills
- manage technical equiment
- learn new software
For some students with AS some of the above points can be tough challenges.
This is not the only project we’re working on with City College’s RUGroom team. We have lots of examples of how technology in teaching and learning can support learners to reach their potential and we’re really proud of how technology is supporting students with AS, so much so that a new television and radio studio is currently being built adjacent to RUGroom and exclusive for AS students to take their learning to the next level.
Like Danusia and her world class team at City College, I’m so proud of the students achievements demonstrating their creativity at BAFTA…
Stephen Heppell rewarded each of the six students with an iPod Nano, they really enjoyed ‘Be Very Afraid’. A fantastic event for all.
Some images from the event: