Sunday, 15 January 2012

Case study - E-learning in deaf education

I have been working with Dr Ruth Swanwick at the School of Education, University of Leeds  helping her using Virtual Learning Environments to enhance her students experience.


This is the range of things I have tried out:
  • Use of personal blogs for reflection on module material
  • Use of tutor blog to give feedback to the whole group
  • Use of discussion board for sharing responses to module reading amongst the group as well as general networking
  • Use of wiki for shared comments on assignments and also for some admin purposes (signing up for tutorials)
  • Use of Module Folders for providing module materials and also for setting up links to other resources (e.g. library, Deaf Ed. websites)
  • Use of chat room for tutorial but changed to pilot WIMBA for this to allow for visual contact with deaf students
  • Use of links to LUTube to give some information in BSL and to allow students to give and share feedback in BSL.
  • Using the WIMBA classroom to organise group and 1:1 tutorials with deaf students using BSL and an interpreter (this is being separately evaluated)


The overall aim of using the blogs, the wiki and the discussion board was to was to:
  • enhance the interaction, networking and support opportunities for all students
  • enable Ruth to provide more support through input to discussions and blog comments
  • provide a mechanism for Ruth to gain more feedback on students' responses to the learning activities week by week.
  • Increase opportunities for deaf students to contribute to discussions in BSL and to have feedback and information from Ruth in BSL


  • Using the VLE and setting up modules with different tools has not been difficult but we have had plenty of support from VLE Support team. Learning how to use the tools is not really difficult but working out how to use them well to actually enhance what you already do requires some thought and opportunities to share ideas with other colleague (across school or faculty). You don't need extra resources for this, just some time and support.
  • Linking between the VLE and LUTube can just be done (in theory) with a camera with some video facility. Working with short clips like this or using the webcam is not complicated.


  • Being able to easily post resources and links; use the announcements and email easily has been liberating as I do not see my students week by week to remind them of things or give them handouts etc.
  • Using the blog and the discussion board as part of the module activities has helped Ruth to be much more in touch with all my students week by week and to gain a better understanding of their responses to the module activities. The students, however, feel slightly anxious about these tools and also more accountable. I could set them up better by managing the students' expectations more effectively.
  • Starting to experiment with the use of visual messages and comments in BSL is really exciting and the response from the deaf students has been very positive. I have used a Flip Camera for this and made links to short video clips in LUTube. The students have tried to do the same. LUTube is easy to use. You can make links quite easily in the VLE but sometimes it comes apart at the making of the video stage. I would like a smoother way to get from filming to uploading. We could then more confidently encourage students to do this themselves across all aspects the programme and it is entirely appropriate for a programme relating to deafness and communication.

Other info. / Links / Comments

Using video and visual tools has the most exciting potential for my programme but it has been the most challenging area and so these examples and links are all relating to this:
This link to LUTube in the VLE which is Ruth feedback about the blogging in BSL rather than in writing.

This is a student giving some feedback about using the virtual classroom. By putting this link in the VLE other deaf students can get an idea of how this pilot is going.

This was just a video of regional tutorials so that students can see what other groups do.

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