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.

 

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.

 

A New Online Tutoring Market Has Emerged — In Construction. It Requires a Surprising Number of Books. — from edsurge.com by Rebecca Koenig

Excerpt:

There’s a high-stakes exam that’s created an entire industry selling test-preparation products and services to people willing to shell out big bucks for help honing their skills and strategies.

It’s not the SAT, or the MCAT. In fact, it’s not related to academic admissions at all. Yet it has generated lots of online guides and courses, and studying for it requires many, many books.

It’s the exam to become a licensed construction contractor. And companies that offer remote instruction to help tradespeople get ready to take the test say business has been booming during the pandemic—perhaps driven by the fact that demand for construction workers is high.

 

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
 

Video Captions Benefit Everyone — from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov by Morton Ann Gernsbacher

Excerpts:

Video captions, also known as same-language subtitles, benefit everyone who watches videos (children, adolescents, college students, and adults). More than 100 empirical studies document that captioning a video improves comprehension of, attention to, and memory for the video. Captions are particularly beneficial for persons watching videos in their non-native language, for children and adults learning to read, and for persons who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. However, despite U.S. laws, which require captioning in most workplace and educational contexts, many video audiences and video creators are naïve about the legal mandate to caption, much less the empirical benefit of captions.

More than 100 empirical studies, listed in the appendix, document the benefits of captions.

With so many studies documenting the benefits of captions, why does everyone not always turn on the captions every time they watch a video? Regrettably, the benefits of captions are not widely known. Some researchers are unaware of the wide-ranging benefits of captions because the empirical evidence is published across separate literatures (deaf education, second-language learning, adult literacy, and reading acquisition). Bringing together these separate literatures is the primary purpose of this article.

 

The excerpt below is from The 7 best online whiteboards in 2021 — from zapier.com by Maria Myre

  • Miro for turning ideas into tasks
  • Stormboard for creating multiple whiteboards in a single brainstorming session
  • MURAL for remote, multi-member team meetings
  • Limnu for teaching students remotely
  • InVision Freehand for annotating design files with a team
  • Conceptboard for turning a brainstorming session into a formal presentation
  • Explain Everything for creating whiteboard videos

From DSC:
Other potentially-relevant tools/vendors here include:

Woman using the Cisco Webex Desk Pro

 

Wonder Tools for Wasting Less Time — from wondertools.substack.com by Jeremy Caplan

Excerpt:

In this post I’m sharing resources to help you stay focused and get more done:

  • 5 simple tools to help you focus on what matters to you
  • 2 plug-ins to block social media distractions
  • Some excellent recent books on how and why to avoid time-sucking distrations.

I have no stake in any of these tools. If something else works better for you, let me know.

 

4 Tips for Offering Online Exams — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
The University of New England, Australia has given more than 40,000 online exams over the past year, here’s what they’ve learned

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

UNE administrators are considering doing away with an exam period because it initially was created for logistical purposes. “We needed to have all the exam venues booked, and the desks and chairs moved in, and the supervisors ready in the papers there,” Day says. “Now we are able to hold exams, anywhere, anytime, any day. So why do we need an exam period? It’s allowing structural changes to the academic calendar, it gives us a few weeks per teaching period back for teaching, perhaps.”

Day says you can also incorporate elements of video and website exploration into your exam, opening up both the type of questions you ask and the type of answers students can provide.

Rethink the Exam Structure  
Switching from paper to online exams is an opportunity for instructors to reexamine the exams themselves, Day says. “It requires you to question why you hold exams, why you hold exams when you do, and how you hold exams.” 

 

Asynchronous Video Conversations: 11 Tips and Best Practices — from er.educause.edu by Rob Gibson

Excerpt (first 4 of 11):

1. Closely align video conversations with the stated module, course, and/or program learning objectives. Clearly indicate those alignments in the course outline.

2. Use the syllabus, an introductory course video, or a sample student video recording to prepare students in advance for this type of activity. Since many students will use their smartphones to record, provide information about best practices for creating quality video using a phone.

3. Some students are uncomfortable recording themselves. Depending on the product, consider offering alternatives such as an audio/mic-only mode, a text-only mode, or using a proxy image or avatar in the video.

4. Consider using threaded video conversations for course introductions to build a sense of humanizing the course. Michelle Pacansky-Brock supports the use of video conversations as an alternative to text. In her book How to Humanize Your Online Class with VoiceThread, she indicates that video tools maximize presence, a dimension of online connectivity to fellow students, the faculty, and the content. Research in her own courses found an increase from 25 percent to 75 percent in voluntary voice-video comments.Footnote5 This also helps form common goals and dispositions among students—dispositions are affective learning dimensions, such as motivation, attitude, persistence, empathy, and problem solving.Footnote6

 

 

Podcasting for Educators — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
Most educators have skills sets that translate well to the podcasting world. Here’s how to get started with your podcast.

Excerpt:

Tech & Learning talked with Young as well Dr. Kecia Ray and Dr. Frances Gipson, hosts of Tech & Learning’s Honor Role podcast, for some best practices and tips. We also collaborated with the six hosts of the AV SuperFriends podcast, asking questions for this story but recording the entire conversation for a future episode of their podcast. Watch for the release of that episode here.

From DSC:
I’d love to see even more teachers, trainers, and professors share their expertise out there. Podcasting is a great way to do that. And so is blogging. It would be nice to see the expertise of those folks reach a far greater audience — society — than just the (behind-the-paywall) journals.

 

Putting Your Best Self Forward: 6 Keys For Filming Quality Videos — from er.educause.edu by Jered Borup
The difference between a video that students watch and one that is ignored often comes down to a few, easily addressed factors.

Excerpt:

  • Key #1: Convey Your Voice—Is the audio clear, or is there background noise or reverberations in the room that distract from your message?
  • Key #2: Find the Light—Are you well lit with a light source in front of you, or are you backlit and/or have shadows on your face?
  • Key #3: Frame and Maintain Eye Contact—Are you about at arm’s length and eye level with the camera, or are you looking down or up at the camera?
  • Key #4: Stage—Do you have personal and/or interesting things in the background, or are you recording in front of a blank wall?
  • Key #5: Be Prepared and Natural—Are you speaking naturally in a way that conveys your interest in the topic, or do you sound somewhat robotic and/or scattered?
  • Key #6: Keep it Short—Is the video under six minutes?

This article is part of a series about incorporating asynchronous video into educational activities:

 

 

ADDitude: Resources for families touched by attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD).

ADDitude: Resources for families touched by attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD)

Example article:

“I’m a Teacher with Nonverbal Learning Disorder. And I’m Exactly Who I Needed As a Child.” — from additudemag.com by Brittany Kramer
“I strive to create a classroom environment where my students know they will be successful, no matter what. It’s the environment I would have felt safe in as a child; one that is encouraging, warm, and free of judgment or anger.”

Excerpt:

“They tried to bury me, but they didn’t know that I was a seed.”

As a special education teacher for students with learning disabilities and developmental disorders, and as a neurodivergent individual myself, this quote defines my life.

I was formally diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) at 23 years old. As a child and teen, I struggled in ways that most people cannot possibly comprehend.

When people think of learning disabilities, they picture a child with dyslexia or dysgraphia who cannot read or write very well. They do not envision an intelligent and articulate child for whom tying shoes or making a paper fit into a folder is arduous at best.

 

We want students to be creative, but how do we assess this? — from spencerauthor.com by John Spencer

Excerpt:

We know that creativity is vital for student learning. We also know that we tend to value the things we assess. However, when we assess creativity, we can unwittingly cause students to become risk-averse. So, how do we assess creativity in a way that encourages students to become more creative?

 

Managing In-Person and Distance Learning at the Same Time — from commonsense.org by Paul Barnwell

Excerpt:

As schools begin to reopen amid the changing pandemic, many classrooms will experience some form of hybrid instruction during the transition back to fully in-person learning. Along the way, schools and districts are embracing a variety of hybrid teaching and learning models. One particular model that can work for both students and teachers is known as hyflex instruction, but to be successful you’ll need to make room for some extra planning and consideration.

 

Learning from the Living [Class] Room: Adobe — via Behance — is already doing several pieces of this vision.

From DSC:
Talk about streams of content! Whew!

Streams of content

I received an email from Adobe that was entitled, “This week on Adobe Live: Graphic Design.”  (I subscribe to their Adobe Creative Cloud.) Inside the email, I saw and clicked on the following:

Below are some of the screenshots I took of this incredible service! Wow!

 

Adobe -- via Behance -- offers some serious streams of content

 

Adobe -- via Behance -- offers some serious streams of content

 

Adobe -- via Behance -- offers some serious streams of content

 

Adobe -- via Behance -- offers some serious streams of content

 

Adobe -- via Behance -- offers some serious streams of content

Adobe -- via Behance -- offers some serious streams of content

Adobe -- via Behance -- offers some serious streams of content

 


From DSC:
So Abobe — via Behance — is already doing several pieces of the “Learning from the Living [Class] Room” vision. I knew of Behance…but I didn’t realize the magnitude of what they’ve been working on and what they’re currently delivering. Very sharp indeed!

Churches are doing this as well — one device has the presenter/preacher on it (such as a larger “TV”), while a second device is used to communicate with each other in real-time.


 

 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian