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?

—–

 

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.

 

 

 

Provosts, Pedagogy, and Digital Learning — from er.educause.edu by Kenneth Green, Charles Cook, Laura Niesen de Abruna and Patricia Rogers
Panel members from an EDUCAUSE 2017 Annual Conference session offer insights about the role of provosts and chief academic officers in digital courseware deployment and the challenges of using technology to advance teaching, learning, and student success.

Excerpt:

At the EDUCAUSE 2017 Annual Conference, Kenneth C. (Casey) Green moderated a panel discussion with two of the CAOs involved in the Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO) Digital Fellows Program and with the principal investigator on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant that created the year-long program. In this session, the three panel members offered their perspectives on campus IT investments, including what the panelists see as working—and what they see as missing—in instructional technology portfolios today.

 

 

Green: What about protection and support for faculty—especially young faculty? Often and disproportionately, younger faculty handle the heavy lifting for departments because, being younger, they’re supposed to “do the technology stuff.” Yet, when they do it—and I hear this at all types of institutions—they don’t get credit for the work in terms of review and promotion. The technology work doesn’t count, particularly at four-year colleges and research institutions.2 Young faculty are told: “Wait. Get tenured, get through the hurdle, get over the hump, then do it. Because this will not help your career—even if you’re being pressured to be the lead person on a digital learning initiative for your institution.”

 

 

Niesen de Abruna: …Now the CIO has to be a partner with the CAO. Their joint enterprise is to leverage learning in their community and to work together and translate things for one another, acting as partners in terms of trying to benefit from what’s happening in instructional design. It’s very exciting for CIOs and CAOs to have that sort of relationship.

 

 

Also see:

  • Insights from Campus Leaders on Current Challenges and Expectations of IT — from er.educause.edu by Kathryn Gates and Joan Cheverie
    IT’s role across a higher education institution is crucial, yet campus leaders typically understand IT challenges and opportunities based largely on their functional roles. Interviews with campus leaders offer insights into these views, as well as how to understand IT more broadly to better serve an institution’s mission.

 

 

 

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.)?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

McKinsey: automation may wipe out 1/3 of America’s workforce by 2030 — from axios.com by Steve LeVine

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In a new study that is optimistic about automation yet stark in its appraisal of the challenge ahead, McKinsey says massive government intervention will be required to hold societies together against the ravages of labor disruption over the next 13 years. Up to 800 million people—including a third of the work force in the U.S. and Germany—will be made jobless by 2030, the study says.

The bottom line: The economy of most countries will eventually replace the lost jobs, the study says, but many of the unemployed will need considerable help to shift to new work, and salaries could continue to flatline. “It’s a Marshall Plan size of task,” Michael Chui, lead author of the McKinsey report, tells Axios.

In the eight-month study, the McKinsey Global Institute, the firm’s think tank, found that almost half of those thrown out of work—375 million people, comprising 14% of the global work force—will have to find entirely new occupations, since their old one will either no longer exist or need far fewer workers. Chinese will have the highest such absolute numbers—100 million people changing occupations, or 12% of the country’s 2030 work force.

I asked Chui what surprised him the most of the findings. “The degree of transition that needs to happen over time is a real eye opener,” he said.

 

The transition compares to the U.S. shift from a largely agricultural to an industrial-services economy in the early 1900s forward. But this time, it’s not young people leaving farms, but mid-career workers who need new skills.

 

 

From DSC:
Higher education — and likely (strictly) vocational training outside of higher ed — is simply not ready for this! MAJOR reinvention will be necessary, and as soon as 2018 according to Forrester Research. 

One of the key values that institutions of traditional higher education can bring to the table is to help people through this gut wrenching transition — identifying which jobs are going to last for the next 5-10+ years and which ones won’t, and then be about the work of preparing the necessary programs quickly enough to meet the demands of the new economy.

Students/entrepreneurs out there, they say you should look around to see where the needs are and then develop products and/or services to meet those needs. Well, here you go!

 

 

 

As a member of the International Education Committee, at edX we are extremely aware of the changing nature of work and jobs. It is predicted that 50 percent of current jobs will disappear by 2030.

Anant Agarwal, CEO and Founder of edX, and Professor of
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT
(source)

 

 

 

Addendum:

Automation threatens 800 million jobs, but technology could still save us, says report — from theverge.com by James Vincent
New analysis says governments need to act now to help a labor force in flux

Excerpt:

A new report predicts that by 2030, as many as 800 million jobs could be lost worldwide to automation. The study, compiled by the McKinsey Global Institute, says that advances in AI and robotics will have a drastic effect on everyday working lives, comparable to the shift away from agricultural societies during the Industrial Revolution. In the US alone, between 39 and 73 million jobs stand to be automated — making up around a third of the total workforce.

 

If a computer can do one-third of your job, what happens next? Do you get trained to take on new tasks, or does your boss fire you, or some of your colleagues? What if you just get a pay cut instead? Do you have the money to retrain, or will you be forced to take the hit in living standards?

 

 

A game to help students pay the right price for college — from nytimes.com by Ron Lieber

Excerpt:

In the last big economic downturn, back when Tim Ranzetta was in the student loan analysis and consulting business and working with colleges, borrowers often found their way to him, too.

There would be tears. And he would get off the phone with the same frustration each time over how little the people who actually use them know about student loans.

Starting this week, he has a new tool in what has become a yearslong campaign to fill that gap: a free, interactive, web-based game called Payback. In playing, students see running totals of their debt but can also track academic focus, the connections they’re making that could be useful later and their overall happiness — crucial factors in actually finishing college and graduating with a job that can help them repay their debt.

 

Also see:

 

 

 

 


From DSC:
Audrey Willis, with Circa Interactive, reminded me that next week is Computer Science Education Week. She wrote to me with the following additional resources:


 

As you may know, Computer Science Education Week starts next week on December 4. This week aims to raise awareness of the need to bolster computer science education around the world by encouraging teachers and students to host computer science events throughout the week. These events can include teacher-guided lesson plans, participating in the Hour of Code, watching computer science videos, or using your own resources to help inspire interest among students. It is for this reason that I wanted to share a few computer science resources with you that were just published by renowned universities. I believe these resources can provide K-12 students with valuable information about different career fields that an interest in computer science can lead to, from education and health information management, to electrical engineering.

Thanks in advance,
Audrey Willis
Circa Interactive

 

 

 

 

How to be an ed tech futurist — from campustechnology.com by Bryan Alexander
While no one can predict the future, these forecasting methods will help you anticipate trends and spur more collaborative thinking.

Excerpts:

Some of the forecasting methods Bryan mentions are:

  • Trend analysis
  • Environmental scanning
  • Scenarios
  • Science fiction

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
I greatly appreciate the work that Bryan does — the topics that he chooses to write about, his analyses, comments, and questions are often thought-provoking. I couldn’t agree more with Bryan’s assertion that forecasting needs to become more realized/practiced within higher education. This is especially true given the exponential rate of change that many societies throughout the globe are now experiencing.

We need to be pulse-checking a variety of landscapes out there, to identify and put significant trends, forces, and emerging technologies on our radars. The strategy of identifying potential scenarios – and then developing responses to those potential scenarios — is very wise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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