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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

High-Tech, High Touch: Digital Learning Report and Workbook, 2017 Edition — from Intentional Futures, with thanks to Maria Andersen on Linkedin for her posting therein which was entitled, “Spectrums to Measure Digital Learning
Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Our work uncovered five high-tech strategies employed by institutions that have successfully implemented digital learning at scale across a range of modalities. The strategies that underscore the high-tech, high-touch connection are customizing through technology, leveraging adaptive courseware, adopting cost-efficient resources, centralizing course development and making data-driven decisions.

Although many of the institutions we studied are employing more than one of these strategies, in this report we have grouped the institutional use cases according to the strategy that has been most critical to achieving digital learning at scale. As institutional leaders make their way through this document, they should watch for strategies that target challenges similar to those they hope to solve. Reading the corresponding case studies will unpack how institutions employed these strategies effectively.

Digital learning in higher education is becoming more ubiquitous as institutions realize its ability to support student success and empower faculty. Growing diversity in student demographics has brought related changes in student needs, prompting institutions to look to technology to better serve their students. Digital courseware gives institutions the ability to build personalized, accessible and engaging content. It enables educators to provide relevant content and interventions for individual students, improve instructional techniques based on data and distribute knowledge to a wider audience (MIT Office of Digital Learning, 2017).

PARTICIPATION IN DIGITAL LEARNING IS GROWING
Nationally, the number of students engaged in digital learning is growing rapidly. One driver of this growth is rising demand for distance learning, which often relies on digital learning environments. Distance learning programs saw enrollment increases of approximately 4% between 2015 and 2016, with nearly 30% of higher education students taking at least one digital distance learning course (Allen, 2017). Much of this growth is occurring at the undergraduate level (Allen, 2017). The number of students who take distance learning courses exclusively is growing as well. Between 2012 and 2015, both public and private nonprofit institutions saw an increase in students taking only distance courses, although private, for-profit institutions have seen a decrease (Allen, 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
One of the biggest gifts that we can give our students today is learning how to learn. Along those lines, I was thinking about note-taking the other day.

Many students may not know how to take good notes, and to make the notes/thoughts their own. So I was thinking, wouldn’t it be great if, for each professor’s class, there was a place where students could go to see what exemplary notes look like for several — even many — of the sessions of a particular class?! If there were an accompanying audio-based or a video-based commentary that could relay the note-taker’s thinking/information processing, all the better.

These notes could be provided by the professor herself/himself or by a 4.0-type of student who has demonstrated solid study habits and shows a strong capacity for processing information.  The notes would want to:

  • Demonstrate what good note taking looks like
  • Provide examples of one’s own wording/understanding of the material
  • Identify/show any gaps in understanding by listing their own remaining questions. This type of gap analysis could help the learners see what a metacognitive check-in might look like.

By doing something like this, students could see what the main points were, what effective note taking looks like, and to see that the note-taker has taken the time to put some of their own reflections/summaries alongside the larger set of notes.

It would also be interesting to provide a platform whereby students could contribute/share their own notes to help others better understand not only the materials covered, but what different methods of note-taking might look like. Perhaps a certain style of note-taking would jump out at any given learner. Also, doing so would foster a more collaborative approach, as is often needed in the real-world.

An accompanying forum could be made available for students’ discussions of a particular class/topic. This forum could highlight for the professor what the areas of struggle are as well as how the material is being processed by the students.

 


On a separate thought…we also need to help students form habits of learning, such as regularly checking into streams of content (i.e., micro-learning).  If we can model this in the ways that we relay content and encourage dialog around a topic, then they will be that much better equipped to:

  • Deal with the new pace of exponential change
  • Reinvent themselves, if need be
  • Practice lifelong learning
  • Learn how to pulse-check their surroundings

 

 

 

Online Guide Helps Students Learn How to Create Immersive Media — from thejournal.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

Now the two organizations have produced a free online guide that covers tools and resources to help students undertake 360-degree production. Among the topics: how to identify the “big ideas” worth exploring and personalize them; how to do 360-degree recording and handle pre-production, production and post-production; and how to share the film “with the world” and assess its impact. There’s also an educator resource on integrating video production into the curriculum.

 

free online guide for creating 360-degree recordings

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

 

Excerpt:

The Top 200 Tools for Learning 2017 (11th Annual Survey) has been compiled by Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies from the votes of 2,174 learning professionals worldwide, together with 3 sub-lists

  • Top 100 Tools for Personal & Professional Learning (PPL)
  • Top 100 Tools for Workplace Learning (WPL)
  • Top 100 Tools for Education (EDU)

 

Excerpt from the Analysis page (emphasis DSC):

Here is a brief analysis of what’s on the list and what it tells us about the current state of personal learning, workplace learning and education.

Some facts

Some observations on what the Top Tools list tells us personal and professional learning
As in previous years, individuals continue to using a wide variety of:

  • networks, services and platforms for professional networking, communication and collaboration
  • web resources and courses for self-improvement and self-development
  • tools for personal productivity

All of which shows that many individuals have become highly independent, continuous modern professional learners – making their own decisions about what they need to learn and how to do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:



 

 

 

Under the Hood: Learning Design Behind Georgia Tech’s Degrees at Scale — from evolllution.com by Shabana Figueroa and Yakut Gazi

Excerpt:

Rolling out the MM program in May and the degree program in August meant design coordination and creation of eight new online courses in less than a year. We needed a new approach that employed strategies for efficiency and effectiveness.

The Learning Design Team
GTPE’s learning design team partners with faculty members to develop their online courses from start to end, providing the heavy lifting for course production. A director of learning design oversees both the instructional design and production aspects of the course production across the entire program. This cross-functional team approach eliminates the silos created by independent instructional design and studio production teams, which in turn, minimizes hand-off points, decreases friction among teams, allows for long-term thinking that leads to smarter course design and development decisions, provides fluidity of talent and roles within the team, and fuels productivity.

…the paradigm shift to a learner-focused, team-based approach to course production and delivery, and collaboration of campus partners and groups…

 

 

From DSC:
Note the use of a team-based approach here. I think that the team-based approach will be the most beneficial to the world at large. Those teams will be able to deliver a high-quality learning experience, with high production values and carefully planned/crafted instructional designs. 

 



Also see:

Learning How to Learn: Anatomy of a good MOOC — from linkedin.com by Bill Ferster

Excerpts:

Barbara Oakley’s MOOC, Learning How to Learn [2] is the exception to this trend. It is well-produced, informative, and fully embraces the new medium. With over 2 million registered students and completion rates of over 20% [3], (the average MOOC completion rate is 5%), Learning How to Learn is clearly resonating with its audience.

The question is why is it so popular? Intrigued, I enrolled the short MOOC to understand why it was so popular, and what lessons it might have for other MOOC authors to make their offerings more effective their “filmed plays.”

Oakley has clearly bucked the overall MOOC trend and has made good use of the inexpensive technologies with well-lit scenes that are clearly edited and make use of the green screen overlay technologies found in her Adobe Premiere video editor. She used a large teleprompter to ensure a fluid delivery of her message and high-quality audio.

Learning to Learn is effective because Oakley put a significant amount of effort making it effective. Good content, coupled with high production values, and sound pedagogy take time to produce and clearly pays off in the final product.

 



 

 

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