From education to employment

Creating autonomous learners with technology at Stockport College

Stockport College is a vocational college which enrols 5.5K students at any one time. The desire to give their students the best possible learning experience resides in their mission statement, and integral to this is the learning support they offer.

With a Learning Support Zone, specialist tutors and support coordinators, they ensure every student feels empowered in their learning journey.

Supporting student independence

The learning support strategy adopted by Stockport College is a move away from traditional human helpers, and one which recognises the power of technology in creating autonomous learners.

Educational technologies like Read&Write from Texthelp, give students the support they need to independently develop their skills, so that they feel confident in their abilities and are prepared for initiation into the world of work.

The more they can do on their own, the more they feel they can achieve on their own and the more they’ll try.”  – Juanita Sheridan, Specialist Assessor/Tutor

Increasing confidence with assistive features

As with any college, the learners at Stockport College are diverse, and each learner has their own unique needs. The college uses Read&Write to provide a variety of supportive features for students with learning difficulties, on-screen difficulties such as Irlen syndrome, and those that speak English as a second language. Its many features help students to read and comprehend content, as well as helping them to communicate their knowledge the way they want to. 

Features include visual/auditory dictionaries, text-to-speech, text prediction, and a grammar, spelling and homophone error checker. Students also benefit from features which help them to focus on large pieces of text, such as a reading window pane. A screen mask also assists visual difficulties, as students can choose a colour overlay that enables them to see content comfortably.

That’s a really simple feature, but it just allows students to access the text – without that overlay they can’t even read what’s on the page.” – Juanita Sheridan, Specialist Assessor/Tutor

A universal tool, for all types of learners

Read&Write is beneficial for every learner, and Stockport College encourages all of their students to make use of the software. Helping students to reach their full potential, Read&Write can be used throughout all elements of study, from independent research, to writing up and proofreading an assignment.

Text highlighters help students to organise and collect useful content they find when independently researching online – this feature even pulls the information into a separate document, with Harvard referencing included. Read&Write also makes paper documents accessible, and students can scan papers they find in the library to make use of Read&Write’s features.

Boosting student confidence, Read&Write also enables students to sense check their work visually for errors as well as orally, by hearing it read aloud. The ability to proofread in a way which suits their needs, ensures that all students can feel confident in their work, before submitting it for assessment.

Read&Write is definitely the way forward with our SEN students, but more importantly is to push it forward into the wider colleges as a more inclusive way of working cross college.” – Rachel Coyle, SEN Coordinator

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