Supporting accessible learning with Wakelet
Author: Suhaylah Patel – Lecturer in Adult Nursing, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)
When I first started at UCLan, I became very familiar with the use of presentation slides in taught sessions. However, the famous student phrase ‘death by PowerPoint’ inspired me to explore alternative options. Enter… Wakelet!
Although I prefer not to disturb the intransigent, at times, it is best with absolute determination to add changes gently. I started at the University during the Covid-19 pandemic and had to quickly learn several different technologies. I must admit, I didn’t even know what Microsoft Teams was, never mind Wakelet! (I had worked for the health service, where it was rare that we changed our systems).
Wakelet was introduced to me in conversation and was not something I had been previously familiar with. I felt I needed time to learn some of the different tools available, in order to make teaching interactive and fun. I wanted to move away from simply having a presentation, and sought to create something suitable for all learners and explorers – following the auditory and visual principles found within the Universal Design for Learning guidelines.
After several attempts of putting together a teaching session, I finally managed it! I learnt the capabilities and how I could use the platform to enhance the learning experience of my students. I no longer had to worry about the number of slides I needed to work through.
As with anything new, this required an investment of time to learn what resources are available and how teaching and learning can be improved. I learnt by stipulating time within my calendar to focus on improving my own confidence with the technology, which has helped me to improve as a lecturer, and to also understand the generational changes with each group of students. Let’s face it, we never stop learning!
Since I began using Wakelet, I have learnt how to change font types and add images, videos and links to websites. I attended an external Wakelet session which helped me to understand what the platform was capable of. Over a year later, and after many attempts during the more peaceful semesters, I finally managed to use Wakelet. In particular, I found it useful to be able to upload visual content which was available straight away – and to also have the option to create a PDF version that that students could print out.
Wakelet is now part of my daily digital tool collection. I use it for:
- providing examples of assessments
- asynchronous learning
- group work
- collaborative working
Although there are some challenges when using Wakelet with large cohorts in the classroom, I continue to use it for online teaching sessions. I like how I can move the content around, and add colours and different fonts, depending on the degree of importance. I can use group activities to enhance the student’s learning, whilst also providing links for them to investigate. Once I have an idea, it no longer takes me hours to put a session together. I simply add my thoughts to the Wakelet, and then change the flow according to my requirements.
General impressions – it is easy to use, great for increasing access to learning, and can easily incorporate a range of media and links. Plus, it also grants you instant access to freely available Creative Commons images. Winning all round for me!
Sources of information
CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org
Myer. A., Rose. D. H., Gordon. D. (2014) Universal Design for Learning Theory and Practice. Cast Incorporated.