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.

 

 

 

From DSC:
I sat down for a cup of coffee the other day with an experienced, wise, elderly learning expert. He was virtually a walking encyclopedia of knowledge around matters related to training, teaching, and learning. It was such a gift to learn from his numerous years’ worth of experience and his hard earned knowledge!!!  I rarely use the phrase learning expert because it’s very difficult to be an expert when it comes to how people learn. But in this case, that phrase works just fine for me.

This elderly gentleman had years’ worth of experiences involving instructional design, coaching, teaching, and training behind him. He mentioned several things that I want to record and relay here, such as:

  • In terms of higher education, we need to move from a content orientation to a process orientationi.e., helping our students learn how to learn (i.e., providing some effective methods/best practices such as this article and this study discuss for example).
    While
    I agree that this is a good call, I still think that we’ll need some level of content delivery though. As Daniel Willingham asserts in his book, Why don’t students like school?, students still need to have a base knowledge of a subject so that they can recall that information and integrate it into other situations. Per Willingham, we can’t expect learners to become experts and think like experts without that base level of knowledge in a subject. But if they never had that information in the first place, they couldn’t recall it or bring it up for application in another context. That said, I highly agree that students need to graduate from high school and college having a much better idea on how to learn. Such a skill will serve them very well over their lifetimes, especially in this new exponential pace of change that we’re now experiencing.

 

  • Speaking of contexts, this wise gentleman said that we need to move from being content driven to being concept driven and context driven.
    The trick here is how to implement this type of pedagogy within higher education. It’s hard to anticipate the myriad of potential contexts our students could find themselves in in the future. Perhaps we could provide 2-3 contexts as examples for them.

 

  • Students need to interact with the content. It won’t have any sort of lasting impact if it’s simply an information transmission model. This is why he practiced (what we today call) active learning based classrooms and project-based learning when he taught college students years ago. This is why he has attendees in his current training-related courses apply/practice what they’ve just been told. Along these lines, he also likes to use open-ended questions and allow for the process of discovery to occur.

 

  • The point of teaching is to make learning possible.

 

  • Learning is change. No change. No learning.
    An interesting, bold perspective that I appreciated hearing. What do you think of this assertion?

 

  • For each educational/training-related item, he asks 3 questions:
    • What does it mean?
    • Why is it important?
    • What am I going to do with it?

 

There was soooooo much knowledge in this wise man’s brain. I reflected on how much information and expertise we lose when instructional designers, teachers, professors, learning theorists (and many others) retire and leave their fields. I asked him if he was blogging to help pass this information along to the next generations, but he said no…there was too much on his plate (which I believe, as he was highly energetic, driven, and active). But I find that when one finally gets enough knowledge to even being close to being called an expert, then it’s time to retire. We often lose that knowledge and people end up reinventing the wheel all over again.

Again, it was such a pleasure to talk with an older gentleman with years of experience under his belt — one who had clearly put a great deal of time and effort into his learning about learning. In an age when America discards the elderly and worships youth, there is an important lesson here.

In an age when organizations are letting their older, more experienced employees go — only to hire much younger people at 1/2 the former wages — we should learn from some of the other nations and cultures who highly respect and lift up the more experienced employees — and the elderly — and who actively seek out their counsel and wisdom. Such people are often worth every penny of their wages.

—–

What do you think? Am I off base on some of my responses/reflections? How do these things strike you?

—–

 

7 Things You Should Know About Video Walls — from library.educause.edu /

Excerpt:

What is it?
A video wall is a large-scale ultra-resolution digital display that joins multiple display screens with minimal bezels to create what is essentially one large screen. While the multiple monitors can be tiled to display one large image, the technology also lends itself well to viewing multiple sources at one time. Video walls are linked via software to a computer or other media source. Video walls typically are arrayed as flat-screen planar displays; sometimes the walls are curved. Found in public spaces like stadiums and airports, video walls are increasingly used in higher education as tools for pedagogy and research. Sizes vary. One example consists of 24 HD displays tiled and connected to create a 50-million-pixel screen. Another example combines twelve 55-inch ultra-resolution LED screens. A video wall at Stanford University measures 16 x 9 feet while one at Georgia State University measures 24 feet wide.

What are the implications for teaching and learning?
Video walls help create a dynamic, interactive, hands-on educational environment that enhances research, encourages active learning, and bolsters collaboration between faculty and students. Used for visualization and modeling of large data sets, for example, this technology helps learners and researchers view in-put with different perspectives, helping them draw new conclusions and deeper analyses, and contributing to the development of new knowledge. Through that capacity, coupled with the immersive experience created by large-scale displays, video walls help learners bridge quantitative and qualitative methods, inter-disciplinary exploration, and diverse modes of inquiry to address complex questions across the arts and sciences.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:

After looking at the items below, I wondered…

How soon before teachers/professors/trainers can quickly reconfigure their rooms’ settings via their voices? For example, faculty members will likely soon be able to quickly establish lighting, volume levels, blinds, or other types of room setups with their voices. This could be in addition to the use of beacons and smartphones that automatically recognize who just walked into the room and how that person wants the room to be configured on startup.

This functionality is probably already here…I just don’t know about it yet.

 


Somfy Adds Voice Control for Motorized Window Coverings with Amazon Alexa — form ravepubs.com by Sara Abrons


 

Also see:

 


 

 

 

Innovating Pedagogy 2017 — from iet.open.ac.uk

Excerpt:

This series of reports explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation. This sixth report proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education. To produce it, a group of academics at the Institute of Educational Technology in The Open University collaborated with researchers from the Learning In a NetworKed Society (LINKS) Israeli Center of Research Excellence (I-CORE). We proposed a long list of new educational terms, theories, and practices. We then pared these down to ten that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice, particularly in secondary and tertiary education. Lastly, we drew on published and unpublished writings to compile the ten sketches of new pedagogies that might transform education. These are summarised below in an approximate order of immediacy and timescale to widespread implementation.

 

 

 

Reaching All Learners by Leveraging Universal Design for Learning in Online Courses — from by Roy Bowery and Leonia Houston

Key Takeaways

  • An instructional design team at the University of Memphis focused on helping faculty create inclusive online classrooms, become aware of the diversity of their students’ learning needs, and adapt their instruction to reach all learners.
  • They did this by helping faculty employ the principles and guidelines of the Universal Design for Learning framework, which consists of three principles: Multiple Means of Engagement, Multiple Means of Representation, and Multiple Means of Action and Expression.
  • After two years, the UDL Implementation Plan, with its emphasis on experimentation, exploration, and inclusive instruction, yielded significant benefits for instructional effectiveness at the University of Memphis.

In an effort to bridge the success gap, our team focused on helping faculty employ the principles and guidelines of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework. According to the National Center on Universal Design for Learning, the UDL framework consists of three principles: Multiple Means of Engagement, Multiple Means of Representation, and Multiple Means of Action and Expression.1 The principles within the framework focus on the what, how, and why of learning. Each of these key principles helped our faculty address learner variability and include guidelines for encouraging their learners to become more motivated, resourceful, and goal-directed. By incorporating the UDL principles and guidelines into their online program courses, faculty created inclusive learning environments and addressed learner variability. With their newfound skills, most could use the strategies within the framework to design and develop online courses with flexible goals, instructional methods, materials, and assessments.

To assist faculty, we created a UDL Implementation Plan designed to teach them how to gradually incorporate UDL principles into their online classrooms, address learner variability, and create inclusive online instruction. We could customize the framework to meet every course, faculty, or instructional need, and they did not have to follow the principles and guidelines within the framework in a specific order. Instead, faculty could identify instructional methods or assignments affecting success in their course(s) and use specific UDL principles or guidelines to solve their pedagogical issues.

 

 

 

Robots in the Classroom: How a Program at Michigan State Is Taking Blended Learning to New Places — from news.elearninginside.com by Henry Kronk; with thanks to my friend and colleague, Mr. Dave Goodrich over at MSU, for his tweet on this.

Excerpt:

Like many higher education institutions, Michigan State University offers a wide array of online programs. But unlike most other online universities, some programs involve robots.

Here’s how it works: online and in-person students gather in the same classroom. Self-balancing robots mounted with computers roll around the room, displaying the face of one remote student. Each remote student streams in and controls one robot, which allows them to literally and figuratively take a seat at the table.

Professor Christine Greenhow, who teaches graduate level courses in MSU’s College of Education, first encountered these robots at an alumni event.

“I thought, ‘Oh I could use this technology in my classroom. I could use this to put visual and movement cues back into the environment,’” Greenhow said.

 

 

From DSC:
In my work to bring remote learners into face-to-face classrooms at Calvin College, I also worked with some of the tools shown/mentioned in that article — such as the Telepresence Robot from Double Robotics and the unit from Swivl.  I also introduced Blackboard Collaborate and Skype as other methods of bringing in remote students (hadn’t yet tried Zoom, but that’s another possibility).

As one looks at the image above, one can’t help but wonder what such a picture will look like 5-10 years from now? Will it picture folks wearing VR-based headsets at their respective locations? Or perhaps some setups will feature the following types of tools within smaller “learning hubs” (which could also include one’s local Starbucks, Apple Store, etc.)?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt:

Artificial Intelligence has leapt to the forefront of global discourse, garnering increased attention from practitioners, industry leaders, policymakers, and the general public. The diversity of opinions and debates gathered from news articles this year illustrates just how broadly AI is being investigated, studied, and applied. However, the field of AI is still evolving rapidly and even experts have a hard time understanding and tracking progress across the field.

Without the relevant data for reasoning about the state of AI technology, we are essentially “flying blind” in our conversations and decision-making related to AI.

Created and launched as a project of the One Hundred Year Study on AI at Stanford University (AI100), the AI Index is an open, not-for-profit project to track activity and progress in AI. It aims to facilitate an informed conversation about AI that is grounded in data. This is the inaugural annual report of the AI Index, and in this report we look at activity and progress in Artificial Intelligence through a range of perspectives. We aggregate data that exists freely on the web, contribute original data, and extract new metrics from combinations of data series.

All of the data used to generate this report will be openly available on the AI Index website at aiindex.org. Providing data, however, is just the beginning. To become truly useful, the AI Index needs support from a larger community. Ultimately, this report is a call for participation. You have the ability to provide data, analyze collected data, and make a wish list of what data you think needs to be tracked. Whether you have answers or questions to provide, we hope this report inspires you to reach out to the AI Index and become part of the effort to ground the conversation about AI.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
In this video, I look at how the pace of change has changed and I also provide some examples that back up this assertion. I end with a series of relevant questions, especially for those of us working within higher education.

What are we doing to get ready for the massive change that’s heading our way?

 

 

Dougiamas shares some #’s about Moodle’s results, future. MoodleMoot US 2017 – Miami — from moodlenews.com

Excerpt:

The projects Moodle HQ is leading from now on, MoodleCloud, Moodle.net, Learn Moodle, and the learning platform itself, as well as a new “Moodle Services” with details to come, are also part of Dougiamas’ goal to make Moodle a complete source, rather than just a software program, in the minds of users everywhere.

MoodleCloud has 25,000 sites. He admits it is not a product for large organizations, “not that it has stopped people from trying.”

Moodle.net is one of the areas with the most active development. Dougiamas suggested it will feature a sort of “social network for teachers” that they can access from their institutional Moodle sites or use as a content exchange. It will have its own app.

 

 

 

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