What elements of elearning need to be made accessible?

According to Seale (2004)
The resource should be accessible from any environment
Does this mean it should be accessible offline? If so, perhaps an online resource has to be made available for download or in print.
Barriers to participation and engagement should be removed i.e.discussion and chat forums should be accessible to allow learners to collaborate. multiple editing is tricky as the content is in flux and learners have different access requirements. Perhaps clearly defining what each learner has to contribute to a shared resource e.g. wiki or Googledoc could help to avoid unwanted changes. The track and undo changes functions could be useful for that.
Consistent and clear functions applies to teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), especially for learners with different writing systems (Arabic/Chinese), who may be put off by extensive amounts of text. Seale refers to this as using white space judiciously. Colour contrasts can be used to make headings/links more recognisable.
Provide explanatory text on screen i.e. hyperlinks should include a description so learners know where they are going. A menu heading should also be constant to assist navigation back and forth and monitor progress.
Limit non-text elements (images/audio/naration/animation/video). This is a challenge considering the predominance of multimedia. Perhaps the solution is to differentiate assessment so learners have a choice of how to present their work i.e. in text format or as a video/podcast. Captions should always be provided for visual/auditory material. This is beneficial for non-native speakers of English. WebAIM apparently is working on providing real time captions.
Sound transitions should also be used to help blind students to navigate a resource.
Built in magnifying tools and listen to this page option.


Activity 15.1 Specialist assistive tech

I have been investigating ‘sound sentry’, which is available from the windows acccessibility menu. It makes the screen flash to represent different sounds generated in Windows. This could be useful for important reminders, but like some of the warning tones, could be a little annoying unless users are able to tailor them to their needs.

A more exciting discovery was the ‘Lumisonic’ experiment: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7558017.stm This is an attempt to visualise sound, to help deaf people to recognise patterns and possibly to speak. I thought this could be useful for language learning, as sound patterns can represent where the stress should fall in sentences or words.

Accessibility issues

I found these guidelines quite useful to bear in mind when creating online learning materials:

W3C – preliminary review of webpages http://www.w3.org/WAI/eval/preliminary.html

For people who are unable to move their arms:

Keyboard support is available in web browsers – users have to learn keyboard short cuts. Voice recognition software is available, but takes time to learn.

For people with visual impairments

Avoid using capital letters as these can be difficult for screen readers to read.

Clearly label hyperlinks – don’t use ‘click here’

For colour blindness – Use a good contrast of colours – add an asterisk next to colours

For people with hearing impairments

Transcripts should accompany podcasts. Videos should be subtitled.

US based Web Aim offers advice on testing accessibility here: http://webaim.org/intro/#intro

Try turning off images to see if the text is still available. I did this using Google Wave toolbar, which also has an automatic accessibility check function. I tried the British Embassy website, which showed up as having 2 accessibility problems.

I tried expanding the text and this seemed to work using ctrl +

H810 – first post

Write notes for yourself or create an entry in your blog about your role and context in education and how they relate to accessibility and online learning. Describe what you would like to achieve from the module

I am a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Although I have no direct experience of teaching learners with disabilities, I have to think about making learning accessible to students who may have problems with writing and spelling with a different alphabet. Arabic students, for example, need to get to grips with writing in a different direction. I am interested in making learning in English more accessible to non-native speakers of English in general. I like using multimedia such as podcasts and digital storytelling and I am keen to learn about accessible web design.

I have just been reading about the impact of the language used to describe disability. I was thinking about the league of gentlemen’s ‘Mr. Foot’, who feels uncomfortable around disabled people due to paranoia about political correctness. This related article looks interesting

I have also been listening to this series from Radio 4, which gives an insight into the obstacles faced by people with disabilities http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lypw4

H809 Activity 11.10 – Peer review podcast

Peer review is usually carried out by academics of a similar standing within their field. It is not usually rewarded financially and may be carried out by a team of editors/assistants/reviewers/action editors. Journal editors often select a range of reviewers.

How does one learn to peer review?

There is no formal training involved, just reliance on the expertise of those who have been working in a specific field. Journals may provide guidelines for reviewers e.g. rating scales for relevance.

Reviewers may look at the bibliography to see who has been cited. Some authors may cite their own work to get kudos, or it could be simply as to help situate the research in relation to previous work.

Blind review (i.e. the reviewer does not know the identity of the author) is supposed to avoid bias The name of the author can be taken away (also from the references), but it may still be easy for reviewers to guess their identity.

Authors should not submit the same paper to two different journals at the same time, but can submit to an alternative journal if it is rejected. They can choose to amend their work based on reviewer feedback. This can become a process of dialogue and the article will be enhanced by the right amendments. This can be extended by engaging in detailed critique and encouraging an ongoing debate.

Authors may vary their approach to research for different readerships.

Empirical research may be needed, which is time consuming.

H809, Activity 11.1 – Analysing paper based/electronic surveys (podcast)

Podcast 11.1 discusses the pros and cons of electronic surveys.

The obvious advantages are that they are fast, cheap and wide ranging. Also, using more sophisticated tools can shift the research to a public sphere and link the response to the respondent i.e. allowing respondents to add to or synthesise their answers, opening out the research process and making the researcher more responsible/accountable. The use of avatars/photos/video e.g. of researchers can influence responses.

Equivalency – is the sample/ population of respondents the same? Different ‘norms’ are applicable for on and offline surveys. Since the answers produced by online/paper based surveys may be different, they need to be analysed differently. How does people’s behaviour change online? Respondents may be more honest or candid, but may be suspicious of digital data and whether they will remain anonymous.

Statistical artifacts – relational patterns may be the same regardless of the media used. Means may be higher or lower e.g. socially desirable behaviour may be lower online (people more honest). Which is more valid?

Context: respondents are often students or specific groups, e.g. educators, who may complete surveys with a specific audience in mind. Where was the survey completed? Alone? Were the respondents influenced by the psychology of the institution?

H809 Block 3, activity 11.2 – categorising the studies met so far

Hiltz & Meinke

non-interventionist: qualitative classroom observations/ quantitative data e.g. amount of online activity

semi-interventionist: interviews to gauge student experience

Wide range of subjects/courses for validity

Same exam taken by online/ftf sts. No significant difference in results

Anonymous students no more candid than those using real name

Wegerif & Mercer

non-interventionist: codification of concordance data

‘Pre to post Interventionist’:

children were coached in debating skills

reasoning test delivered before and after intervention

Presumably children knew they were being observed. It is unclear whether this had an effect on the findings

Greenhow & Belbas

Non-interventionist: reading through discussion forums and concentrating on areas of disagreement between participants