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Community Cohesion 3: Creating and Using Interactive Whiteboard Games

Holy Cross School

Creating and Using Interactive Whiteboard Games

Lorian Mead: Head Occupational Therapist, NHS Kingston, London, UK
Paul Sebuliba: NHS, Kingston, UK
Lloyd Mead: Tutor in Vocational Skills, Lambeth College, UK
Lawrence Williams: Head of Creative Development at The Holy Cross School, Surrey, UK

The project described here is the third in a series of cross-agency (now called Community Cohesion) explorations involving the development of resources for, and by, people with learning disabilities. (See “Healthy Eating” JAT December 2008, and “Keeping Safe” JAT June 2010.) Year 7 students at the Holy Cross secondary girls’ school devised a series of simple educational games, for use on an interactive whiteboard, to support the learning of young adult students. The completed resources were then further developed at Lambeth College, and were finally made available for use both by Lambeth College and NHS Kingston’s Occupational Therapy Service for people with learning disabilities.

Lambeth CollegeThe Team and its Aims
The participants in the project were Lambeth College, who commissioned the initial project, and the Holy Cross School, whose students created the interactive games. NHS Kingston developed a file format for the games in partnership with Lambeth College, whose students visited Holy Cross to share the final outcomes.

The aim of the project was to use PowerPoint files to create a series of simple educational games for use on an interactive white board. These would be designed to meet the learning requirements of people with learning disabilities, as well as being presented in a visually accessible way. Reference was made throughout the project to the “Visual Impairment Tips” sheet provided to the school by NHS Kingston. This publication gives advice on using suitable fonts, and the principles of appropriate layout devices.

Project development
Year 7 students at Holy Cross began work on the project by creating their own individual PowerPoint files on a topic of their choice. This pilot project was added so that the girls could explore the possibilities offered by the computer program, and to make suitably colourful and entertaining games. Topics chosen included mathematical skills, as well as several games on colour and shape. Class discussions and planning centred on how to make logically sequenced hyperlinks between the various pages of the game, in order to take the user effectively through the learning process, to a successful conclusion.

Click on the right colour gameOnce the students were confident about the logical structure of their games, and were sure about the visual clarity needed by the end users, the school invited Paul Sebuliba, from NHS Kingston, to visit the classroom in order to support the Year 7 students, and to check the work done so far. He looked at the students’ pilot games, and gave useful individual feedback on the project.

The Specialist Health Occupational Therapy Service for Adults with Learning Disabilities contributed through developing the design template for the power point presentations. This was then shared and agreed with the Lambeth College Tutor to ensure that the final template would meet the needs of both the OT Service and Lambeth College Learning Development Department.

The template and design principles
Lorian Mead on behalf of the Occupational Therapy Service then developed a presentation for the Holy Cross students. The presentation covered the key aspects of designing for adults with learning disabilities, including a template (see below). Consideration was given to the page layout, so that information could be confined to a sequence of two images.

Photo Options template

The amount of information being provided was considered important in order that people using the final PowerPoint were not overloaded. The development stages of communication were also considered. Photos are a useful support at an early graphically representational stage, and as such meet the needs of many people with learning disabilities. However, the choice of photos is crucial, as images need to represent the object clearly. Therefore the presentation for the game-makers also included examples of a clear and accessible image, compared to a less clear and cluttered image.

As the majority of people with learning disabilities have some form of visual impairment, the design of the template also included the incorporation of key elements that would enable people with visual impairments to participate in the games. These principles include a large font size and a yellow background to the text. It was also recommended that a contrasting colour is used for the text e.g. black.

The actual font being used was also important as some fonts use letters that are not easily recognisable, if the reader is at an early stage of reading ability. For example, the letter ‘a’ looks different in cambria font to comic sans font. Comic sans font is one of the fonts that is recommended for use with adults with learning disabilities.

Creating the interactive games
The next step was the creation of the actual games which would be used not only by the students at Lambeth College, but also by NHS professionals. These games were designed to create options for the users to click on, to advance the slides either to a correct, or an incorrect, choice of answer. The Holy Cross students took sequences of digital pictures, at home, to use in their individual game. Following the design brief for NHS Kingston, they had to ensure that the sequences were clear, logical, and were presented in an appropriate size, and with a suitable font

Topics required for the project were focussed on everyday tasks such as the correct sequence needed for:

Following their completion by the Holy Cross students, the files were sent to Lambeth College, where students and their teachers trialled them, and gave feedback on these games. Lloyd Mead sent the following comments:

The Lambeth College students enjoyed doing all of the activities, and the layout and appearance of all the presentations was of a good level, and visually accessible.

Some excellent examples of this are:

  1. Olivia’s slide 3, good, with clear pictures and layout
  2. Constance's whole “teeth” sequence is excellent. Nice clear pictures and clear big writing in Comic Sans font.
  3. The students liked to hear the clapping sound file played to them when they did well. Anne and Nicole’s sound files were particularly appreciated.

Refinements to the games
The next step in the project was for Lambeth students and teachers to refine the games at the College. Because the files are in electronic format, they can easily be adjusted according to the needs of the end user.

The Lambeth college students picked the best of the samples that had been sent and set about practising playing the games on the interactive white board, on three separate occasions. Through observing the students playing the games, and through subsequent conversation with the students about the problems that they had, changes were made to the games to make them work well for this particular student group. For example, where pictures had been taken from the Internet some still had imbedded hyperlinks in them that would take the students to an external website when the picture was clicked. It was these hyperlinks that were removed, as the some students clicked on all the pictures. Another feature that caused difficulties for the students was that PowerPoint documents have a default setting to go to the next page when the current page is clicked. If the student clicked on the page and not the hyperlink, a different page from the one they had intended would come next. To resolve this default box on the slide transition ‘Advance slide’ needed to be unchecked so the page would only advance though a hyperlink. Some of the hyperlinks were small and it was recommended that they were enlarged to make it easier for the students to touch or click. On one game the hyperlinks were next to each other, and during the trialling a student knew the right answer but got the wrong hyperlink, so it was recommended that these were moved apart.

Once these changes had been made, the Lambeth college students visited the Holy Cross School. Year 7 girls presented the required changes that had been made to their work, and the Lambeth College students, along with the Holy Cross students, played the refined and completed games on the interactive white board. The final games have continued to be used by the college students on the Independent Living Skills course. The students have also used the games on the interactive whiteboard, as a group, to reinforce the skills of team working and problem solving developed during the project

Students viewing an IWB game

Above, a Holy Cross Y7 student shares a moment of fun with Lloyd Mead, and his students from Lambeth College. Her IWB game is on the interactive white board behind them.

Lloyd comments, “Taking part in this project has been a great opportunity and to my students to build confidence in giving feed back on the games. They have found the method motivating and the games have provided an opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge of this information technology. For me, it has been the opportunity, also, to consolidate skills in the use of interactive white boards. I have also learnt more about strategies for introducing and engaging students to this technology. I am now using this PowerPoint template with the college students, using pictures of the students doing activities such as cooking to make sequencing games which can be used to reinforce the initial learning in the kitchen. This project has led me to research further how interactive white boards can be used to promote learning.”

This has, once again, been an interesting and successful project. Holy Cross students had the opportunity to be creative as part of their normal ICT lessons at the school. Their work had a practical purpose, as well as developing their ICT and creative skills. Lambeth College students were able to trial the games, and to provide important feedback on their practical use. They continue to enjoy using the materials. NHS Kingston developed their understanding of how schools work, supported the project with professional input, and gained useful training materials for service users, as an intervention to support the development of life skills.

Lorian Mead: Head Occupational Therapist, NHS Kingston, London, UK
Paul Sebuliba: NHS, Kingston, UK
Lloyd Mead: Tutor in Vocational Skills, Lambeth College, UK
Lawrence Williams: Head of Creative Development at The Holy Cross School, Surrey, UK

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