DOTTing in Madrid
A group of 23 DOTs (Digital Outreach Trainers) travelled to Madrid at the end of May for the 3rd and final DOTs study trip, following earlier visits to Malta and Athens. Nick Jeans from Sero describes the trip:
Having arrived late on Monday night, the group met for a briefing in the hotel’s seminar room on Tuesday morning, followed by a presentation from Jaitek, the company who provided our local guide, Luis Gomez.
Luis explained a number of the company’s projects involving the use of technology in education, particularly developing Moodle VLEs for secondary schools in Madrid. Montserrat2 is one of these schools, and we visited it the following day.
In the afternoon we visited ONCE, Spain’s national organisation for the blind and visually-impaired. We saw a presentation from Accedo, which focuses on Accessibility in digital content.
Accedo began in 2004 to provide training, Research (software + hardware), collaboration, dissemination and advice. It trains ONCE teachers in techniques to make the most of technology.
Surprisingly, many visually-impaired people like tablet PCs because, despite their small screens, they can hold them close to their eyes. The iPad is particularly good because it has a built-in screenreader. The point was made that blind kids enjoy working with computers, and that technology is very beneficial for inclusion.
- Website: www.educacion.once.es
- Resources: www.once.es/new/servicios-especializados-en-discapacidad-visual/educacion
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Wednesday, the group visited Montserrat2 secondary school, which is partly private, as are many secondary schools in Madrid. We gave a presentation to students and staff about the DOTs scheme and the Game2Engage project at the Sheffield College, in which students mentor fellow students with learning disabilities using gaming technology.
The school makes extensive use of technology. Besides the Moodle VLE run by Jaitek, there are numerous computers in corridors in the school, available for use whenever needed.
Montserrat School kids are involved in a scheme to help local elderly people gain confidence with IT and the internet. Older people come to the school after timetabled classes and pupils volunteer to help for 1 hour after school, once a week. School starts at 8am and finishes at 2pm, after which pupils normally have lunch at home.
Miguel Munoz (email@example.com, tel: 628 771 907) gave a presentation at Montserrat school about Libredebarreras, which literally translates as ‘free of Barriers’. This is a website that points out issues (both positive and negative) for mobility access on Googlemaps. It relies on volunteer contributors who identify and photograph obstacles or helpful features for wheelchair users.
The project started in 2009 and now has 3,000 marks on its map, created by over 600 contributors in Spain, Colombia, Turkey and Puerto Rico. It uses Facebook and Twitter (LdeB_es) to raise awareness and recruit more contributors. The idea is that a wheelchair user in Sheffield, for example, will have detailed knowledge of where is accessible and where is not. That same user can benefit from the contributions of another wheelchair-user in another town when it comes to visiting. The information is freely available, but patchy in coverage. Bilbao has the best-developed map of a town, while the Municipality of Granada has been most involved in the project, as a way to promote tourism. It can also be used to promote accessible shops, events, etc.
The DOTs, especially Sam Deakin who is himself wheelchair-bound, were most impressed with this project and could see the value for Sheffield.
On Thursday we visited the offices of Fundetec, where the director, Alfonso Arbaiza, described its work. The foundation, which only has 10 full-time employees, began in 2004 and focuses on using technology for the benefit of the elderly, women and small companies. It is funded by regional governments and large technology companies. Spanish regulations are very much devolved to the 17 different regions, which makes it difficult to develop national policies and initiatives.
For prisoners who have no access to internet, Fundetec have produced a simulation of the internet to equip them with the skills they will need when they are eventually released.
Fundetec has also helped to manage the project ‘Home connected to Internet’, which is a copy of the UK’s ‘Home Access’ programme run by former government agency BECTA.
Fundetec also organises free internet classes for the elderly in collaboration with a scheme, Elderly Vacation Plans (IMSERSO), which provides subsidised holidays out of season for the elderly.
A new EU project was introduced by Senor Arbaiza’s colleague, Sylvie Galaup: Connect to the World. There is an increasing number of older people in the EU and IT can help improve their quality of life. This is a pilot project involving six European countries: Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Romania, Czech Republic, United Kingdom (the University of Edinburgh) and Spain, where Fundetec is in charge of development, with the collaboration of Paradise Sacred Hearts School in Madrid. Italy (Fondazione Mondo Digitale de Roma) is co-ordinating the project.
Like the project at Montserrat2, older people visit a school where ‘Knowledge Volunteers’ (schoolkids and teachers) volunteer to help.