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The ViPi project organises its 1st National Workshop in Larnaca, Cyprus on Monday 3 October 2011 (14:30 – 18:30) at the hotel “Henipa Crown Resorts”, Dhekelia Road, Larnaca.

About ViPi
A majority of Europe’s people with disabilities are unemployed (ANED figures state over 60%). There are many reasons for this. Many people with disabilities have advanced skills but suffer significant barriers to employment. This is an important issue which must be addressed. For others, skill acquisition must be facilitated. ViPi aims to support and facilitate the acquisition of basic ICT skills for those people with disabilities who lack them.
ViPi aims to provide a “one-stop-shop” interactive portal & learning environment for people with disabilities to acquire ICT skills. The ViPi platform will also act as an environment for trainer organizations to find and contribute Learning Objects (Los) that they can integrate in existing learning environments and practices. The platform will thus be able to support a fully accessible and Open Source based pan-European learning network and community, bringing together key stakeholders and gatekeepers (VET, target groups, umbrella organizations), while offering a vast set of reusable (PC and Mobile) LOs, supported by Web 2.0 social services.
ViPi has been partially funded under the Lifelong Learning program, subprogramme KA3 ICT.

Target Group
The workshop targets and is expected to attract the following profiles of people and organizations:

  • Organizations representing people with disabilities
  • Individuals with a disability
  • Relatives of, or carers of persons with disability
  • Training Centers and individual trainers of any level that are experienced or are interested in working with people with disabilities
  • Intermediaries (Employment Centres, etc.)
  • Policy makers

Objectives of the Workshop
The Workshop will comprise an opportunity for the participants to receive information on the early project’s findings and to discuss directly with the project consortium and affect the future workplan. The high-level objectives of the workshop are summarized as:

  • Presentation of project work and findings (Basic ICT Training curriculum, ViPi Survey, ViPi platform technologies and integration pathway, Current work on mobile applications, Current work on Semantic Content Management enhancements, etc.)
  • Presentation of Cyprus situation regarding education and employability of people with disabilities (invited talks by representatives of Training Centers and/or Organizations of people with disabilities)
  • Open (moderated) discussion among participants on the above subjects, to affect the present and future of the ViPi project

Language
The official language of the workshop will be the English, however, informal translation to/from Greek will be offered wherever required and for the participants’ convenience.

Registration
The participation to the workshop is free of any charge, but preliminary registration is obligatory. In order to express your interest and register to the workshop, please, send an email or call Mr. George Milis at: +357 99587884, by Friday 23 September 2011.

Please provide following information:

  • Full Name
  • Organization (if applicable)
  • Contact details
  • Reason of interest
  • Transportation required? (please, see Transportation section)
  • Interested for lunch? (please, see Lunch section).

Transportation
Considering the fact that the majority of the participants are expected to arrive from Nicosia, the project will arrange for a bus (free of charge) to transfer people from Nicosia to the workshop venue and back.

  • From Nicosia to workshop venue: 03 October 2011, 12:00 or 13:30 (please, see Lunch section).
  • From workshop venue to Nicosia: 03 October 2011, 19:00.

Please, explicitly state your interest to use the above service at registration.

Lunch
Before the workshop and depending on interest expressed through registration, the project will offer lunch (free of charge) to the participants, at the workshop venue. Time: 13:00.

On 25th and 26th October 2011, Nottingham Trent University will organise the “Interactive Technologies and Games: Education, Health and Disability 2011” event in Nottingham.
The aim of the conference is to bring together academics and practitioners working with interactive technologies to explore and innovate within the areas of Education, Health and Disability. We have a particular focus on the use of gaming hardware and software to implement accessible solutions, interaction design using new input/output devices and the increasing impact of ubiquitous computing on our everyday well being.
The conference provides an excellent opportunity to showcase practice and to mainstream research ideas and outcomes. It will introduce a wider audience to key findings and products from research and will illustrate how practice feeds back into and informs research. The conference will create a forum for two-way communication between the academic and practitioner communities and particularly welcomes user led presentations and workshops.
The programme will include presentations of papers, workshops, a doctoral consortium and an exhibition space for demonstrations and posters. This event is held in partnership with GameCity – the World’s best-loved videogame festival and delegates are welcome to attend all GameCity events including the opening drinks reception.
Those wishing to present papers or hold a workshop should send abstracts, to a maximum of 500 words. For those hoping to exhibit or produce a poster, a 300-word abstract is required. The deadline for submissions is Friday 17th June, 2011 to be sent to: karen.krelle@ntu.ac.uk .
Final copies of accepted papers are required by Friday 30th September 2011
More information can be found on the conference website.

GOET’s concrete aims and objectives are to support the acquisition and use of knowledge skills and qualifications to facilitate Basic Skills, Personal Development and Employment Preparation.

The GOET Project has been funded with support from the European Commission and will support people with learning disabilities in getting and keeping a job. It aims to help people learn, via games-based learning, to live more independently and to help them in their working day. The project also wants to improve how subjects are taught by making them more interesting and enjoyable. It also supports an accessible approach to vocational skills training, and will be adapting and developing a range of games for computers and mobile telephones that are interactive, engaging and fun.

Game on Extra Time has been delivered by the Social Enterprise Greenhat Interactive and funded by the European Commission. The games were designed and developed by Nottingham Trent University, providing a range of talented multimedia developers.

The games are designed across multiple online formats and provide a personalised memory timeline, giving prompts throughout the day to remind the client of important things to do to prepare for leaving the house and throughout the working day.

As appeared on PlatformOnline:

After taking in some sessions on technologies designed to improve health and education, we took a moment to speak David Brown, professor of interactive systems for social inclusion at NTU, and Penny Standen, professor of health, psychology and learning disabilities at the University of Nottingham, about their research into ‘serious games’.

What’s the difference between serious games and commercial games?

David Brown: Commercial games can be serious games, but it just means that, unlike commercial games with an entertainment purpose, serious games usually have some kind of learning or rehabilitation focus rather than purely entertainment.

At today’s conference, you presented several games designed to rehabilitate people with disabilities and health problems. Can you describe how one of those games would be used?

DB: One of the games that we develop is a 3D introduction to work. [It] uses the [Source] engine that’s used to produce [Half-Life 2]. Except we produce a new level of the game – it is modded. And instead of running around killing everybody, we strip all the weapons out, and we just use the characters the environments, the settings, the buildings, to simulate what it might be like for a person with a disability on their first day. Because they might have more extreme fear or trepidation about their first day. And there might be some really particular information about what a person with a disability must know on their first day – we use the game, and that engine, to simulate their first day at work.

Why did you decide to pursue this research?

DB: Really it was about 20 years ago. I started working with Penny [Standen] and the Sheppard school 20 years ago, because people with a learning disability don’t particularly work [well] with abstract ways of learning, such as learning English to describe something or mathematics. They work very well with being shown or interacting with three dimensional, interactive environments – where you can learn by doing, learn experientially rather than learning something like English then reading a book about it, because it is an abstract [way] to learn about a real world system. So, we simulate the real world system.
Penny Standen: You can also do it over and over again. You can practice things as many times as you like without really getting your teachers fed up. And it’s a safe environment in which to practice in.

The possibility to repeat tasks is a key advantage for serious games, then…

DB: Yeah. [Users] can interact, they can get consistent feedback. It is your interaction at drives the learning process, so you’re fully engaged in the system. We started with the development of virtual environments way back in the day. But what we find more recently is, we can do the same kind of simulations, but the games’ engines give us all of the environments and the characters already developed up to a really high [level] of fidelity. That’s what our young gamers have come to expect. So, if we were developing those characters ourselves we [would] have to invest huge amounts of time and energy to produce that kind of level of system. Whereas, games’ engines do half that work for us. We just then have to embed the narrative in there, rather than developing the environment and characters as well.

What sort of limitations are there for serious games?

DB: The limitations would be whether we’ve actually embedded the learning objectives in them. Sometimes with serious games, we put lots of learning objectives in and that detracts from the game playing element. But with pure games, there isn’t the learning embedded in it either. It’s about finding that middle ground between the two, so you’re maximising the engagement from a computer game, but also getting the advantages of having learning objectives. That’s a really fine line to balance between. Sometimes you achieve it and sometimes you don’t.

Where do think your research will take you in the future?

DB: Well, there are lots of things we want to do, like a lot of the stuff we’ve been showing tonight, such as stroke rehabilitation. What I want it to be now. We’ve had lots of ideas for the last 20 years, but, perhaps over the last five or six years, we’ve been proving that serious games and virtual environments do have a real clinical effect – as Penny’s proved – on people’s choice reaction time or their independent decision making or in some of the other studies on memory. So, these games and environments do have a real educational or clinical effect and we need to go on proving that. Once we [establish] that, they’ll be embedded into real educational and rehabilitation [institutions].
PS: [Building] something that’s more acceptable to a wide range of age groups as well. I think people have been saying that some of the [users] are too old and they may not want to do it. But I think they’ve got to be acceptable to everybody, so that people use them as a natural form of learning or treatment.

To find out more about serious games research in Nottingham see ntu.ac.uk/sat.

GOET logo

GOET logo

The GOET (Game On Extra Time) Project has been funded with support from the European Commission and will support people with learning disabilities in getting and keeping a job. It aims to help people learn, via games-based learning, to live more independently and to help them in their working day.
The project also wants to improve how subjects are taught by making them more interesting and enjoyable. It also supports an accessible approach to vocational skills training, and will be adapting and developing a range of games for computers and mobile telephones that are interactive, engaging and fun.
More information can be found on the project website.