COMMUNICATION between pupils with additional learning needs (ALN) and education staff in Powys could be helped by new technology.

Pupils will be able to write multi-media ‘wikis’ (a collaborative website or database) with content about themselves. They will then able to share access to the wiki with the education department and schools.

This can help with pupils who can’t or won’t communicate verbally.

And wikis have the extra safeguard of information only being able to be shared if the child allows it.

Powys County Council’s (PCC) learning and skills committee watched a short film which explained the concept.

PCC is also collaborating with software developer RIX Research and Media to provide a Welsh language version.

This software will “place learners’ views” and feelings at the heart of the

process of planning the support required so they can achieve their “full potential.”

Education portfolio holder Cllr Myfanwy Alexander said that she was a big fan of the software.

County Times: Rix Wiki micro websites to help children with learning disabilities communicateRix Wiki micro websites to help children with learning disabilities communicate

Committee lay member Graeme Robson, a governor at Sennybride County Primary School, asked if  the wiki was replacing the one page profile?

He was told that they could be used together.

Mr Robson added: “Just my usual concern for a school in a very rural area with absolutely appalling internet, how are we doing this for children who don’t have all singing and all dancing broadband?

Education department officers said that they were still considering the software as they needed to test it and take it through the process of being approved by the information and communications technology department (ICT).

Education portfolio holder, Cllr Myfanwy Alexander said uploading videos to express themselves gave “extra richness” to the profiles.

Cllr Alexander said: “This is quite a powerful tool, it could be used as ‘hello how are you’ face to face with a learner, that you would usually have to drive 80 miles there and back to see.

“It wouldn’t replace any statutory visits.

“If you wanted to ask something like, you had a new bus driver today, how did it go?

“You could ask that via wiki.

“Some children with profound special needs do much more when you are tuned in to them, and the wiki is a short cut to do that.”

“We want a bilingual system and developers are interested in doing a trial on it with us.

Senior manager ALN, Imtiaz Bhatti, added: “Local authorities in England and Ofstead (School inspectors in England) have said it’s a really good tool.

“This is something new we want to do in Powys and we would be leading the way for the rest of Wales.”

Mr Robson added that he feared that PCC was “over promising” once again on something that “could go down the toilet.”