The Section 508 Refresh and What It Means for Higher Education — from er.educause.edu by Martin LaGrow

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Higher education should now be on notice: Anyone with an Internet connection can now file a complaint or civil lawsuit, not just students with disabilities. And though Section 508 was previously unclear as to the expectations for accessibility, the updated requirements add specific web standards to adhere to — specifically, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 level AA developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Although WCAG 2.0 has been around since the early 2000s, it was developed by web content providers as a self-regulating tool to create uniformity for web standards around the globe. It was understood to be best practices but was not enforced by any regulating agency. The Section 508 refresh due in January 2018 changes this, as WCAG 2.0 level AA has been adopted as the standard of expected accessibility. Thus, all organizations subject to Section 508, including colleges and universities, that create and publish digital content — web pages, documents, images, videos, audio — must ensure that they know and understand these standards.

Reacting to the Section 508 Refresh
In a few months, the revised Section 508 standards become enforceable law. As stated, this should not be considered a threat or burden but rather an opportunity for institutions to check their present level of commitment and adherence to accessibility. In order to prepare for the update in standards, a number of proactive steps can easily be taken:

  • Contract a third-party expert partner to review institutional accessibility policies and practices and craft a long-term plan to ensure compliance.
  • Review all public-facing websites and electronic documents to ensure compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards.
  • Develop and publish a policy to state the level of commitment and adherence to Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 Level AA.
  • Create an accessibility training plan for all individuals responsible for creating and publishing electronic content.
  • Ensure all ICT contracts, ROIs, and purchases include provisions for accessibility.
  • Inform students of their rights related to accessibility, as well as where to address concerns internally. Then support the students with timely resolutions.

As always, remember that the pursuit of accessibility demonstrates a spirit of inclusiveness that benefits everyone. Embracing the challenge to meet the needs of all students is a noble pursuit, but it’s not just an adoption of policy. It’s a creation of awareness, an awareness that fosters a healthy shift in culture. When this is the approach, the motivation to support all students drives every conversation, and the fear of legal repercussions becomes secondary. This should be the goal of every institution of learning.

 

 


Als0 see:


How to Make Accessibility Part of the Landscape — from insidehighered.com by Mark Lieberman
A small institution in Vermont caters to students with disabilities by letting them choose the technology that suits their needs.

Excerpt:

Accessibility remains one of the key issues for digital learning professionals looking to catch up to the needs of the modern student. At last month’s Online Learning Consortium Accelerate conference, seemingly everyone in attendance hoped to come away with new insights into this thorny concern.

Landmark College in Vermont might offer some guidance. The private institution with approximately 450 students exclusively serves students with diagnosed learning disabilities, attention disorders or autism. Like all institutions, it’s still grappling with how best to serve students in the digital age, whether in the classroom or at a distance. Here’s a glimpse at the institution’s philosophy, courtesy of Manju Banerjee, Landmark’s vice president for educational research and innovation since 2011.

 

 

Udemy for Business Unveils Team Plan, a New Learning Product Designed Specifically for Small & Midsize Businesses — from globenewswire.com
Team Plan enables organizations of any size to invest in their employees’ skills development by providing quick, easy access to top-rated courses without the hassle of contracts

Excerpt:

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 07, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Udemy, the global marketplace for learning and teaching online, today introduced Team Plan, a new corporate learning product from Udemy for Business designed specifically to help teams of 5-20 employees master new skills. With Team Plan, managers are able to easily purchase subscriptions to a curated selection of more than 2,000 top courses from the Udemy marketplace for their team and immediately gain access to learning content without a time-consuming contracting process.

Udemy is unveiling Team Plan at a time when more workers are feeling pressure to keep up with changing job requirements. A recent Udemy survey revealed that nearly 80% of Americans agree there is a skills gap, and more than a third (35%) say it affects them personally. More than a quarter of U.S. employees also believe that employers should take responsibility for reskilling the workforce. Team Plan is an easy-to-use and affordable subscription-based solution that lets internal departments and small businesses offer employees on-demand access to quality learning content that they can use to gain new skills and apply what they learn immediately.

 

 

 

How to improve memory retention in online training — from growthengineering.co.uk by Christopher Pappas

Excerpt:

4. Incorporate A “Moment Of Need” Online Training Repository
That brings us to the next tip, which is to incorporate a “just in time” online training library. This features microlearning online training resources that are easy to digest and remember. Employees can access support tools based on their needs, goals, and skill gaps. Best of all, they can expand their knowledge whenever it’s most convenient, whether that’s on the sales floor, before a client meeting, or during the morning commute. “Moment of need” online training repositories aid in memory retention by breaking the online training content into consumable pieces, instead of barraging your employees with large quantities of information.

 

From DSC:
This idea of an online training repository is tied in with a more recent development of “chatbots.” As artificial intelligence continues to pick up steam, these chatbots could offer internal employees as well as external customers automated responses to questions. People could ask the questions either by typing in their questions and/or by using their voices to ask their questions. So keep your eyes on chatbots — as they will likely bring a whole new method of obtaining information and professional development to us in the near future!

 



 

Also from Christopher Pappas (@cpappas) see:

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Getting employees to make time for L&D needs to be based upon “what’s in it for them” — i.e., the main role of the L&D Team/Department should be to create the platforms and means by which employees can learn whatever they need to learn in order to do their jobs well (as well as to learn the skills necessary to move into those new areas that they’ve been wanting to move into). They’re going to find ways to do this anyway, why not give them the tools/knowledge of the tools and the platforms in order to better facilitate that learning to happen at a quicker pace?

An L&D Team could provide content curation services themselves and/or they could connect the employees with knowledgeable people. For example, give employees the key people to connect with who are doing their jobs really well.

For example, the L&D Team could maintain and provide a list of the top 10*:

  • Internal Sales employees to connect with and learn from, as well as the top 10 external Sales people to connect with and learn from (these people may or may not be in the same industry).
  • Internal Customer Service employees to connect with and learn from, as well as the top 10 external Customer Service people to connect with and learn from (these people may or may not be in the same industry).
  • Internal Marketing employees to connect with and learn from, as well as the top 10 external Marketing people to connect with and learn from (these people may or may not be in the same industry).
  • Etc.

 

* Or top 5, or top 50, or top whatever # that the L&D Team
thinks
would be most beneficial to the organization

 

I think each employee in the workforce needs to know about the power of RSS feeds and feed aggregators such as Feedly. In fact, I advocate that same approach for most every student in middle school, high school, and college as well. We need to be able to connect with others and tap into streams of content being produced — as well as contribute to those streams of content as well. Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, CMSs/LMSs, etc. can provide beneficial streams of content.

 

“And learners are evolving at a quicker pace than the learning programs that support them.”

 

Also, based upon the above image, I find it interesting that the corporate L&D teams are struggling with what higher education has been struggling with as well — i.e., predicting which skills will be needed and responding as quickly as possible in order to develop the necessary learning modules/RSS feeds/content/etc. to remain up-to-date. Actually, I suspect that it’s not that the learners are evolving at a quicker pace than the learning programs that support them, rather its the required skills and needs of the positions that are evolving at a quicker pace than the learning programs that support them.

Our institutions and our L&D Departments are simply not used to this pace of change. No one is.

We need better mechanisms of dealing with this new pace of change.

One last random thought here…perhaps a portion of the L&D department will morph into creating bots for internal employees, helping answer questions at the point of need.

 

 

 

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV

 

 

 

Six reasons why disruption is coming to learning departments — from feathercap.net, with thanks to Mr. Tim Seager for this resource

Excerpts:

  1. Training materials and interactions will not just be pre-built courses but any structured or unstructured content available to the organization.
  2. Curation of all learning, employee or any useful organizational content will become a whole lot easier.
  3. The learning department won’t have to build it all themselves.
  4. Learning bots and voice enabled learning.
  5. Current workplace learning systems and LMSs will go through a big transition or they will lose relevancy.
  6. Learning departments will go beyond onboarding, compliance training and leadership training and move to training everyone in the company on all job skills.

 

A successful example of this is Amazon.com. As a shopper on their site we have access to millions of  book and product SKUs. Amazon uses a combination of all three techniques to position the right book or product based on our behavior, peer experiences as well as having a semantic understanding of the product page we’re viewing. There’s no reason we can’t have the same experience on workplace learning systems where all viable learning content/ company content could be organized and disseminated to each learner for the right time and circumstance.

 

 



From DSC:
Several items of what Feathercap is saying in their solid posting remind me of a vision of a next generation learning platform:

  • Contributing to — and tapping into — streams of content
  • Lifelong learning and reinventing oneself
  • Artificial intelligence, including Natural Language Processing (NLP) and the use of voice to drive systems/functionality
  • Learning agents/bots
  • 24×7 access
  • Structured and unstructured learning
  • Socially-based means of learning
  • …and more

 

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV

 



 

 

From DSC:
The vast majority of the lessons being offered within K-12 and the lectures (if we’re going to continue to offer them) within higher education should be recorded.

Why do I say this?

Well…first of all…let me speak as a parent of 3 kids, one of whom requires a team of specialists to help her learn. When she misses school because she’s out sick, it’s a major effort to get her caught up. As a parent, it would be soooooo great to log into a system and obtain an updated digital playlist of the lessons that she’s missed. She and I could click on the links to the recordings in order to see how the teacher wants our daughter to learn concepts A, B, and C. We could pause, rewind, fast forward, and replay the recording over and over again until our daughter gets it (and I as a parent get it too!).

I realize that I’m not saying anything especially new here, but we need to do a far better job of providing our overworked teachers with more time, funding, and/or other types of resources — such as instructional designers, videographers and/or One-Button Studios, other multimedia specialists, etc. — to develop these recordings. Perhaps each teacher — or team — could be paid to record and contribute their lessons to a pool of content that could be used over and over again. Also, the use of RSS feeds and content aggregators such as Feedly could come in handy here as well. Parents/learners could subscribe to streams of content.

Such a system would be a huge help to the teachers as well. They could refer students to these digital playlists as appropriate — having updated the missing students’ playlists based on what the teacher has covered that day (and who was out sick, at another school-sponsored event, etc.). They wouldn’t have to re-explain something as many times if they had recordings to reference.

—–

Also, within the realm of higher education, having recordings/transcripts of lectures and presentations would be especially helpful to learners who take more time to process what’s being said. And while that might include ESL learners here in the U.S., such recordings could benefit the majority of learners. From my days in college, I can remember trying to write down much of what the professor was saying, but not having a chance to really process much of the information until later, when I looked over my notes. Finally, learners who wanted to review some concepts before a mid-term or final would greatly appreciate these recordings.

Again, I realize this isn’t anything new. But it makes me scratch my head and wonder why we haven’t made more progress in this area, especially at the K-12 level…? It’s 2017. We can do better.

 



Some relevant tools here include:



 

 

 

Teachers can now use IBM’s Watson to search for free lesson plans — from edsurge.com by Stephen Noonoo

Excerpt:

IBM’s famous Watson computing system—which defeated Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings in 2011—is coming to education, if not quite the classroom. As part of a new IBM philanthropic initiative, the supercomputer is helping to power a searchable database of open educational math resources designed for teachers in grades K-5.

Today marks the first time the new tool, called Teacher Advisor With Watson 1.0, is open to the public after a lengthy beta testing period that sought input from state education commissioners, teachers unions, school board associations and more than 1,000 teachers.

“We wanted to build and design something for teachers by teachers, with the best information and the best technology available,” says Stan Litow, the President Emeritus of the IBM Foundation and a former deputy chancellor for New York City Department of Education.

The IBM Foundation has been flirting with ideas to apply Watson technology in education for a while, without knowing exactly what it wanted to do with it. The tech giant began last year by pulling in more than 100 top-level education leaders for a daylong event demoing the tech. From that focus group they narrowed the list of potential applications to professional development tools and, eventually, settled on a searchable database exclusively for elementary school math.

 

Populating the search engine is a collection of more than 1,000 OERs—from sources such as Achieve, UnboundED and statewide orgs like EngageNY—hand-selected by math experts assisting the program.

 

Also see:

 


 

 

Future Forward: The Next Twenty Years of Higher Education — from Blackboard with a variety of contributors

Excerpts:

As you read their reflections you’ll find several themes emerge over and over:

  • Our current system is unsustainable and ill-suited for a globally connected world that is constantly changing.
  • Colleges and universities will have to change their current business model to continue to thrive, boost revenue and drive enrollment.
  • The “sage on the stage” and the “doc in the box” aren’t sustainable; new technologies will allow faculty to shift their focus on the application of learning rather than the acquisition of knowledge.
  • Data and the ability to transform that data into action will be the new lifeblood of the institution.
  • Finally, the heart and soul of any institution are its people. Adopting new technologies is only a small piece of the puzzle; institutions must also work with faculty and staff to change institutional culture.

Some quotes are listed below.

 

“What’s more, next-generation digital learning environments must bridge the divide between the faculty-directed instructivist model our colleges and universities have always favored and the learner-centric constructivist paradigm their students have come to expect and the economy now demands.”

It will be at least 10 years before systems such as this become the standard rather than the exception. Yet to achieve this timeline, we will have to begin fostering a very different campus culture that embraces technology for its experiential value rather than its transactional expediency, while viewing education as a lifelong pursuit rather than a degree-driven activity.

Susan Aldridge

 

 

 

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing higher education right now?

A: I think it is a difficult time for decisionmakers to know how to move boldly forward. It’s almost funny, nobody’s doing five-year strategic plans anymore. We used to do ten-year plans, but now it’s “What’s our guiding set of principles and then let’s sort of generally go towards that.” I think it’s really hard to move an entire institution, to know how to keep it sustainable and serving your core student population. Trying to figure out how to keep moving forward is not as simple as it used to be when you hired faculty and they showed up in the classroom. It’s time for a whole new leadership model. I’m not sure what that is, but we have to start reimagining our organizations and our institutions and even our leadership.

Marie Cini

 

 

 

One of the things that is frustrating to me is the argument that online learning is just another modality. Online learning is much more than that. It’s arguably the most transformative development since the G.I. Bill and, before that, the establishment of land-grant universities. 

I don’t think we should underestimate the profound impact online education has had and will continue to have on higher education. It’s not just another modality; it’s an entirely new industry.

Robert Hansen

 

 

From DSC:
And I would add (to Robert’s quote above) that not since the printing press was invented close to 500 years ago have we seen such an enormously powerful invention as the Internet. To bypass the Internet and the online-based learning opportunities that it can deliver is to move into a risky, potentially dangerous future. If your institution is doing that, your institution’s days could be numbered. As we move into the future — where numerous societies throughout the globe will be full of artificial intelligence, big data, robotics, algorithms, business’ digital transformations, and more — your institutions’ credibility could easily be at stake in a new, increasingly impactful way. Parents and students will want to know that there’s a solid ROI for them. They will want to know that a particular college or university has the foundational/core competencies and skills to prepare the learner for the future that the learner will encounter.

 

 

 

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing higher education right now?

A: I think the biggest challenge is the stubborn refusal of institutions to acknowledge that the 20th century university paradigm no longer works, or at least it doesn’t work anymore for the majority of our institutions. I’m not speaking on behalf of our members, but I think it’s fair to say that institutions are still almost entirely faculty-centered and not market-driven. Faculty, like so many university leaders today who come from faculty ranks, are so often ill-equipped to compete in the Wild West that we’re seeing today, and it’s not their fault. They’re trained to be biologists and historians and philosophers and musicians and English professors, and in the past there was very little need to be entrepreneurial. What’s required of university leadership now looks very much like what’s required in the fastpaced world of private industry.

If you are tuition dependent and you haven’t figured out how to serve the adult market yet, you’re in trouble.

Robert Hansen

 

 

 

It’s not just enough to put something online for autodidacts who already have the time, energy, and prior skills to be able to learn on their own. You really need to figure out how to embed all the supports that a student will need to be successful, and I don’t know if we’ve cracked that yet.

Amy Laitinen

 

 

 

The other company is Amazon. Their recent purchase of Whole Foods really surprised everybody. Now you have a massive digital retailer that has made billions staying in the online world going backwards into brick-and-mortar. I think if you look at what you can do on Amazon now, who’s to say in three years or five years, you won’t say, “You know what, I want to take this class. I want to purchase it through Amazon,” and it’s done through Amazon with their own LMS? Who’s to say they’re not already working on it?

Justin Louder

 

 

 

 

We are focused on four at Laureate. Probably in an increasing order of excitement to me are game-based learning (or gamification), adaptive learning, augmented and virtual reality, and cognitive tutoring.

Darrell Luzzo

 

 

 

 

I would wave my hand and have people lose their fear of change and recognize that you can innovate and do new things and still stay true to the core mission and values. My hope is that we harness our collective energy to help our students succeed and become fully engaged citizens.

Felice Nudelman

 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Readers of this Learning Ecosystems blog will recognize the following graphic:

 

 

I have long believed that each of us needs to draw from the relevant streams of content that are constantly flowing by us — and also that we should be contributing content to those streams as well. Such content can come from blogs, websites, Twitter, LinkedIn, podcasts, YouTube channels, Google Alerts, periodicals, and via other means.

I’m a big fan of blogging and using RSS feeds along with feed aggregators such as Feedly. I also find that Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Alerts to be excellent means of tapping into — and contributing to — these streams of content. (See Jane Hart’s compilations to tap into other tools/means of learning as well.)

This perspective is echoed in the following article at the Harvard Business Review:

  • Help Employees Create Knowledge — Not Just Share It — from hbr.org by John Hagel III and John Seely Brown
    Excerpt:
    Without diminishing the value of knowledge sharing, we would suggest that the most valuable form of learning today is actually creating new knowledge. Organizations are increasingly being confronted with new and unexpected situations that go beyond the textbooks and operating manuals and require leaders to improvise on the spot, coming up with new approaches that haven’t been tried before. In the process, they develop new knowledge about what works and what doesn’t work in specific situations. We believe the old, “scalable efficiency” approach to knowledge needs to be replaced with a new, more nimble kind of “scalable learning.” To foster the latter, managers should understand five essential distinctions…

 

We need to be constantly challenging our assumptions and beliefs about what is required to achieve impact because, as the world changes, what used to work in the past may no longer work. 

— Hagel and Brown

 

So whether you are working or studying within the world of higher education, or whether you are in the corporate world, or working in a governmental office, or whether you are a student in K-12, you need to be drawing from — and contributing your voice/knowledge to — streams of content.

In fact, in my mind, that’s what Training/L&D Departments should shift their focus to, as employees are already self-motivated to build their own learning ecosystems. And in the world of higher education, that’s why I work to help students in my courses build their own online-based footprints, while encouraging them to draw from — contribute to — these streams of content. As more people are becoming freelancers and consultants, it makes even more sense to do this.

 

 

But when we recognize that the environment around us is rapidly changing, skills have a shorter and shorter half-life. While skills are still necessary for success, the focus should shift to cultivating the underlying capabilities that can accelerate learning so that new skills can be more rapidly acquired. These capabilities include curiosity, critical thinking, willingness to take risk, imagination, creativity, and social and emotional intelligence. If we can develop those learning capabilities, we should be able to rapidly evolve our skill sets in ways that keep us ahead of the game.

— Hagel and Brown

 

 

 

Instructional Design Firm Launches Digital Marketplace; Enables Innovative Universities to Offer Unbundled Alternative Credentials — from prnewswire.com
iDesign Course Market will help colleges deliver course content, accept payment, and issue digital credentials and certificates online

Excerpt:

DALLASAug. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Instructional design firm, iDesign, [on 8/10/17] announced Course Market, a digital marketplace that universities can use to offer standalone courses and digital credentials in high demand fields. Course Market integrates LMS technology from Instructure and Credly’s pioneering credential platform to deliver engaging learner experiences with real value in the job market. Institutions that utilize Course Market can seamlessly enroll students in continuing education programs, accept payment, deliver content, and issue digital badges or certificates, which can be instantly uploaded and shared through social networks like LinkedIn or Facebook.

“Alternative credentials are unquestionably gaining traction among working adults looking for accelerated pathways to new schools and executive education. We view Course Market as a great tool for universities that want to expand access to learners who may otherwise be unable to take advantage of traditional degree programs,” said William Valenta, Assistant Dean of MBA and Executive Programs at University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business.  “By applying Course Market’s technology and infrastructure to our existing educational offerings, the Katz school successfully enhanced access, affordability, and career relevance.”

 

 

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