Improving Digital Inclusion & Accessibility for Those With Learning Disabilities — from by Meredith Kreisa
Learning disabilities must be taken into account during the digital design process to ensure digital inclusion and accessibility for the community. This comprehensive guide outlines common learning disabilities, associated difficulties, accessibility barriers and best practices, and more.

“Learning shouldn’t be something only those without disabilities get to do,” explains Seren Davies, a full stack software engineer and accessibility advocate who is dyslexic. “It should be for everyone. By thinking about digital accessibility, we are making sure that everyone who wants to learn can.”

“Learning disability” is a broad term used to describe several specific diagnoses. Dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, nonverbal learning disorder, and oral/written language disorder and specific reading comprehension deficit are among the most prevalent.

 
An image of a barrier being torn down -- revealing a human mind behind it. This signifies the need to tear down any existing barriers that might hinder someone's learning experience.

 

Digital upskilling in legal: More than just new technology — from legalexecutiveinstitute.com by Bob Dolinsky; with thanks to Gabe Teninbaum for this resource

Excerpt:

How many law firms have digital upskilling programs for their lawyers and staff members? Based on what I hear and read, very few, if any.

Amazon, for example, recently announced a commitment of more than $700 million to its “Upskilling 2025” program, an internal training initiative designed to promote customer satisfaction and worker advancement. Another example is PwC, which has a digital upskilling program to develop its in-house talent pool called “New world. New skills.” In 2019, PwC announced that it would invest $3 billion into job training for its 275,000 employees around the world, enhancing its workforce and client service delivery to better address emerging digital needs.

The goals of these and similar initiatives is to help ensure that employees have the skills in the digital arena to be successful, to position these organizations as preferred employers, and to provide customer and client service excellence.

Also from Gabe:

“Virtual justice” (the preferred, if unsettling, term) is an emergency response to a dire situation. But it is also a vision some judicial innovators had long tried to realize. One leading booster, Michigan Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, told me that going online can make courts not only safer but “more transparent, more accessible, and more convenient.” Witnesses, jurors, and litigants no longer need to miss hours of work and fight traffic. Attorneys with cases in multiple courts can jump from one to another by swiping on their phones.

 

Nearly Half of Faculty Say Pandemic Changes to Teaching Are Here to Stay — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Among the findings:

  • Fifty-one percent of faculty said they feel more positive about online learning today than pre-pandemic. Faculty were most satisfied with how efficiently they were able to communicate with students — but across the board, a majority of faculty were also satisfied with how efficiently the technology worked, how well students learned and how well students engaged in class.
  • Fifty-seven percent of faculty said they feel more positive about digital learning materials than pre-pandemic.
  • Seventy-one percent of faculty reported they make considerable use of digital materials today, compared to 25 percent pre-pandemic. And 81 percent said they expect digital material use to remain the same or increase post-pandemic.
  • Fifty-eight percent reported considerable use of online homework and courseware systems, more than doubling the pre-pandemic share of 22 percent. Seventy-four percent expected the use of those systems to remain the same or increase post-pandemic.
  • Only 8 percent of faculty said they would revert to their pre-pandemic teaching practices after the pandemic is over.

Also see:

Two-thirds of people in the education sector expect to see a continuation of remote work post-pandemic. Sixty-five percent of respondents in education agreed that due to the success of remote collaboration, facilitated by videoconferencing, their organizations are considering a flexible remote working model.

 

DC: Yet another reason for Universal Design for Learning’s multiple means of presentation/media:

Encourage faculty to presume students are under-connected. Asynchronous, low-bandwidth approaches help give students more flexibility in accessing course content in the face of connectivity challenges.

— as excerpted from campustechnology.com’s article entitled, “4 Ways Institutions Can Meet Students’ Connectivity and Technology Needs

 

 

Reimagining Higher Education: The Post-Covid Classroom — from er.educause.edu by Rob Curtin
As we prepare to return to campus, many of the technologies that helped us simply survive and sustain classroom continuity will become permanently embedded in our educational methods and play a pivotal role in the refinement of practices consistent with an ongoing shift to more student-centered learning.

Videoconferencing -- a professor teaching a class of virtual students

Credit: as-artmedia / Shutterstock.com © 2021

As learning practices continue to evolve, new remote learning and collaboration technologies, in concert with pedagogy, will be critical to enabling inclusive, personalized, and engaging hybrid learning experiences to bring students together beyond simple videoconferencing and recording of lectures. 

 

Over 27,000 students share how colleges and universities could improve digital learning — from jisc.ac.uk

Excerpt:

A Jisc survey of 27,069 higher and further education students reveals that most are pleased with their digital learning, but areas such as wellbeing, mental health and staff digital skills need more attention.

Between October and December 2020, 21,697 higher education (HE) students and 5,372 in further education (FE) took part in Jisc’s digital experience insights student survey. The surveys seek to support the sector in adapting and responding to the changing situation as a result of COVID–19 policies.

 

eBook Release: The Needs Analysis Playbook—How To Make L&D A Trusted Partner In Your Organization — from elearningindustry.com by Christopher Pappas
You need buy-in to achieve success and enhance your business infrastructure. This needs analysis guide highlights the importance of gathering stakeholder and learner audience feedback, as well as red flags to look for throughout the process.

Excerpt:

The conundrum that many organizations face is whether to invest in needs analysis or skip right to development. After all, identifying gaps and realigning objectives takes time, organization, and planning. The truth is that it creates a solid framework for your L&D initiatives moving forward so that you target pain points instead of just brushing the surface of employee development. This needs analysis guide is designed to help you analyze stakeholders and get buy-in using a step-by-step methodology. Before we dive into the content, let’s look at why needs analysis is imperative for modern organizations.

 

eLearning has improved in the last 7 years… — from elearningindustry.com by Mary Burns
A student in 2014 and a student in 2021 would probably have the same fundamental online learning experience. Yet online learning has changed dramatically in the last 7 years. In my 50th article, I look back at online learning and enumerate 5 drivers that have led to its improvement.

Excerpt:

COVID/remote learning has expanded our understanding of online learning. Teachers are far more adept at using technology and designing with technology to help students learn online. They know which online learning modalities—synchronous or asynchronous—work best with which eLearning platform. Students too have had a year-long internship in online learning—its tools and pedagogies.

COVID has diversified our understanding of online learning. In 2014, when I began writing for eLearning Industry, eLearning meant one thing—a class held in a virtual learning environment or Learning Management System. In 2021, online learning is any learning we do online, whether via free or fee-based subscription services (like Khan Academy and DreamBox, respectively), web conferencing, or Web 2.0 platforms (Edmodo, YouTube channels)—another overlooked candidate for this list.

And COVID has constrained our understanding of online learning. In 2014, when I began writing for eLearning Industry, eLearning was largely asynchronous and done in an LMS. In 2021, for a plurality of teachers and students across the globe, eLearning means one thing: Zoom and it means learning that is live and synchronous.

 

 

Improved Student Engagement in Higher Education’s Next Normal — from er.educause.edu by Ed Glantz, Chris Gamrat, Lisa Lenze and Jeffrey Bardzell
Five pandemic-introduced innovative teaching adaptations can improve student engagement in the next normal for higher education.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The five teaching enhancements/adaptations discussed above—collaborative technologies for sense-making, student experts in learning and technology, back channels, digital breakout rooms, and supplemental recording—are well positioned to expand the definition of “student engagement” beyond traditional roll call and attendance tracking. Opportunities to include students at a distance have permitted inclusion of students who are reticent to speak publicly, students whose first language is not English, students with disabilities, and students less engaged through “traditional” channels. With these new conceptions of engagement in mind, we are prepared to be more inclusive of all students in the next normal of higher education.

 

What is it like to use a screen reader? — from knowbility.org by Anthony Vasquez

Excerpt:

In January, I, along with Texas State University computer science student Su Park, demonstrated screen reader interactions as part of Knowbility’s Screen Readers in the Wild webinar. Both Su and I are blind and have used screen readers since childhood. We weren’t able to answer all attendee questions during the webinar, so I’m continuing the discussion here. I hope that after reading this, you’ll better understand the roles that screen readers and accessible content play in the lives of blind people, and learn of a few easy ways you can improve the user experience. So, let’s jump right in!

If you missed Screen Readers in the Wild, you can still watch the demos!

 

If equity is a priority, UDL is a must — from cultofpedagogy.com by Katie Novak

Once you identify the firm goal, ask yourself, “Based on the variability in my class, what barriers may prevent learners from working toward that goal and how can I eliminate those barriers through design?”

Excerpt:

When we design the same learning pathways for all learners, we might tell ourselves we are being fair, but in fact, single pathways are exclusionary.  Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of the critically acclaimed book, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race, challenges us to focus on impact over intentions. It may not be our intent to exclude our learners, but the reality is that many students do not have opportunities to learn at high levels or to access curriculum and instruction that is accessible, engaging, culturally sustaining, and linguistically appropriate.

Luckily, there is a framework that rejects these one-size-fits-all solutions and empowers educators to proactively design learning experiences so all students can increase their brainpower and accelerate and own their learning. The framework is Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

UDL is a framework for designing learning experiences so students have options for how they learn, what materials they use, and how they demonstrate their learning. 

From DSC:
I put together this graphic as I’m working on a Module (for Canvas) to address the topic of accessibility:

An image of a barrier being torn down -- revealing a human mind behind it. This signifies the need to tear down any existing barriers that might hinder someone's learning experience.
By Daniel Christian March 2021
 

Chrome now instantly captions audio and video on the web — from theverge.com by Ian Carlos Campbell
The accessibility feature was previously exclusive to some Pixel and Samsung Galaxy phones

Excerpt:

Google is expanding its real-time caption feature, Live Captions, from Pixel phones to anyone using a Chrome browser, as first spotted by XDA Developers. Live Captions uses machine learning to spontaneously create captions for videos or audio where none existed before, and making the web that much more accessible for anyone who’s deaf or hard of hearing.

Chrome’s Live Captions worked on YouTube videos, Twitch streams, podcast players, and even music streaming services like SoundCloud in early tests run by a few of us here at The Verge. Google also says Live Captions will work with audio and video files stored on your hard drive if they’re opened in Chrome. However, Live Captions in Chrome only work in English, which is also the case on mobile.

 

Chrome now instantly captions audio and video on the web -- this is a screen capture showing the words being said in a digital audio-based file

 

ARHT Media Inc.
Access The Power Of HoloPresence | Hologram Technology | Holographic Displays | Hologram Events

Excerpt:

ARHT Media mounted a holographic display at the event in Vancouver and had Sunlife’s executive captured and transmitted live as a hologram to the event from our Toronto studio. He was able to see the audience and interact with them in realtime as if he was attending the event and present in the room.

ARHT Media Inc. launches the Holopod | A holograph of the head of global sales appears on stage. Access The Power Of HoloPresence | Hologram Technology | Holographic Displays | Hologram Events

From DSC:

  • Will holographic displays change what we mean by web-based collaboration?
  • Will this be a part of the future learning ecosystems inside of higher education? Inside of the corporate training world? Inside the world of events and webinars?
  • How will this type of emerging technology impact our communications? Levels of engagement?
  • Will this type of thing impact telehealth? Telelegal?
  • How will this impact storytelling? Media? Drama/acting? Games?
  • Will the price come down to where online and blended learning will use this type of thing?
  • Will streams of content be offered by holographic displays?

 

 

Moving Online Learning from Challenge to Opportunity — from campustechnology.com by Dr. Mark Lombardi
The future of higher education means breaking down classroom walls, embracing digital tools and engaging students with creativity and innovation.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Similarly, Maryville criminology professor Geri Brandt, working in concert with our learning designers and on-site production studio, used 360-degree camera technology to stage a virtual, explorable, interactive crime scene. Extending this online experience further, the criminology department created a “choose your own adventure” virtual experience, where each student response or choice in an investigation leads to a different outcome.

Creativity and innovation on this scale are only possible when faculty work with a talented team of learning design professionals who can translate a vision of interactive and immersive learning into a new student experience. Designing and delivering this active learning ecosystem integrated in online and on-ground learning takes a team of committed professionals and the courage to make it happen.

What if students could choose to learn in environments that are fully immersive, deeply enriching and profoundly meaningful to their courses of study? We encourage our students to explore the world beyond the campus, but what happens when the world is your campus?

 

Telemedicine likely to change how we receive health care post-pandemic — from mlive.com by Justin Hicks

A patient sits in the living room of her apartment in New York City during a telemedicine video conference with a doctor. (Mark Lennihan/AP)AP

A patient sits in the living room of her apartment in New York City during a telemedicine video conference with a doctor. (Mark Lennihan/AP)AP

Excerpt:

As we look to the post-pandemic future, medical experts believe telemedicine will be here to stay as another option to increase access to care, reduce costs, and free up doctors to spend more time with patients who need in-person care.

“When I think about the pandemic, one thing that didn’t change about our lifestyles is people are busy,” Lopez said. “I think we’ll still see growth in overall visits because of the fact that people want access to care and when you lower the cost, it should go up.”

From DSC:
A friend of mine said that he is doing most of his practice now via the telehealth route (and has been for many months now). Then, recently, when I was at the lab, the knowledgeable woman who assisted me said that she thought virtual health was definitely going to stick. Many doctors and nurses will be using virtual means vs. physical visits she said.

Expectations get involved here — for education, for the legal field, and for other arenas.

 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian