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Creating accessible online learning experiences


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A user experience perspective on the challenges and opportunities for providing accessible online learning experiences. Presented at A11yBos 2014, 10th May.

Published in: Internet, Education, Technology
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Creating accessible online learning experiences

  1. 1. Creating Accessible Online Learning David Sloan @sloandr Sarah Horton @gradualclearing Copyright © 2014 The Paciello Group
  2. 2. What we plan to do • Take a user experience (UX) perspective to accessibility and online learning • Current challenges • Key aspects of a strategy for delivering accessible online learning experiences
  3. 3. What we ask you to do • Contribute your own experiences • Ask us questions • Share the session
  4. 4. Some assumptions Image courtesy of Wikipedia
  5. 5. Online learning has substantial potential to make education more accessible, including to people with disabilities.
  6. 6. Optimizing the learning experience for people with disabilities can lead to enhancements for other learners.
  7. 7. There may be pedagogic justification to require certain levels of sensory, motor and cognitive capability in learners. But educational organizations have an obligation not to discriminate against learners or instructors with disabilities.
  8. 8. Defining an accessible online learning experience Photo credit: Flickr user @mikecogh
  9. 9. The journey a learner with a disability takes through a learning program, accessing and interacting with learning resources, communicating with the instructor and their peers, and demonstrating the skills and knowledge acquired.
  10. 10. Constraints • Authoring tools and platforms • Preserving educational validity • Diversity in learner background, location, engagement and learning styles • Instructor perspective on accessibility
  11. 11. Keystones of an accessible online learning experience Photo credit: Flickr user @53825985@N02
  12. 12. Navigation • Learners can navigate through an online learning system efficiently and effectively – Regardless of input device used or assistive technology • Key destinations are prominently identified – Course material – Grade books – Discussion areas
  13. 13. Media accessibility • Graphic and video content is accessible to people who can’t see it • Audio content is accessible to people who can’t hear it or understand it • Media can be controlled and manipulated by people regardless of input device used
  14. 14. Forms • Learners with disabilities can understand the layout and functionality of forms such that they can enter or select appropriate data for each control • Learners with disabilities can successfully access feedback when submitting an answer
  15. 15. Communication • Learners with disabilities can receive notifications of essential messages • Learners with disabilities can participate fully in online discussions with their peers and instructors
  16. 16. Personalization • Learners with disabilities can independently configure the display and behavior of a system according to their needs – Visual display – Ordering of content – Timing settings • Configuration options are easy to find, easy to change, and reliable
  17. 17. Assessment • Learners with accessibility needs can make the appropriate adaptations before taking a summative test • Tests focus on intended learning outcomes in a fair way to learners with disabilities
  18. 18. Educational content creation tools Photo credit: Flickr user @tomswift:
  19. 19. Current learning platform support • Accessibility support is inconsistent! • Hadi Rangin and colleagues reviewed four popular learning management systems and found flaws in each – In accessibility to learners and instructors • MOOC platforms also have limitations
  20. 20. Content variability • HTML • PDF • Video, audio, animation • eBooks • Embedded apps • Social media
  21. 21. Tools need to support accessible authoring • Tools that help instructors create: – Static content – Video and audio – Interactive features – quizzes, tests • Tools that help students navigate to and interact with learning resources
  22. 22. Responsibility for online learning accessibility Photo Credit: Wellspring Community School
  23. 23. Vendors • Eliminate or mitigate accessibility barriers present in learning platforms and in educational material • Focus on supporting accessible authoring – Course authoring and management tools should be accessible – Learning resource authoring systems should optimize accessibility
  24. 24. Learning technologists • Research and document the nature of current problems • Configure LMS and courseware tools to minimize output of inaccessible content • Train instructors to use tools with accessibility in mind; and to focus on the learning experience holistically • Include accessibility in procurement/selection criteria for new systems, tools and resources
  25. 25. Instructors • Use authoring tools with accessibility in mind • Be creative in using multiple approaches to help your learners achieve the same learning objectives • Monitor your learners’ performance for potential accessibility problems
  26. 26. Learners • Learn how to configure the learning platform to make it work best for you • Ask for learning resources in accessible format • Report accessibility problems • Communicate with your peers in an inclusive way
  27. 27. Everyone • Co-ordinate efforts to pressurize platform and resource providers to raise their accessibility game • Be specific in what is needed and what success looks like
  28. 28. The future Image courtesy of Wikipedia
  29. 29. The future: a standards approach? • IMS Access For All • Standardizing: – Accessibility in learner profiles – Accessibility in learning and assessment resource descriptions – How this information can work together to support customized experiences • Success relies on gathering and maintaining accurate information
  30. 30. Delivering accessible online learning experiences is a multi- faceted, complex challenge requiring a holistic approach – but one worth taking.