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.

 

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

 

 

Picture of an empty tomb -- so glad the tomb was empty! Happy Easter to those who celebrate it!

 

NJ High School Adds New Recording Studio to Learning Spaces — from spaces4learning.com by Matt Jones

Excerpt:

A career and technical high school in New Jersey has added new professional recording gear to one of its teaching spaces. County Prep High School, part of Hudson County Schools of Technology, added hardware from Solid State Logic (SSL), a UK-based company that manufactures analog and digital audio consoles for music and audio production. Students in the music and audio technology program learn how to write their own songs and produce their own music. The senior project involves putting a label together and releasing songs.

 

The Studio at County Prep High School in New Jersey installed at the front of a teaching space with seating for about 16 students -- it overlooks a tracking room with a piano and two soundproof booths.

The new studio at County Prep High School features professional equipment from Solid State Logic.
Source: Solid State Logic

Also see:

A different view on the console at this New Jersey High School

Addendum on 4/1/21:

  • Control Room 42 ushers in the future of broadcasting — from derivative.ca
    Excerpt:
    Control Room 42 (CR42) a project from RTBF, public broadcaster for the French speaking part of Belgium, gives broadcasting’s traditionally hardware-based control room a radical makeover enabled by TouchDesigner in ways its designer Hugo Ortiz thought impossible a few years ago. Recipient of The European Broadcasting Union’s Technology and Innovation Award 2020, this new software-based control room prototype that also integrates Artisto for audio and Smode for real-time graphics brings game-changing innovation to the broadcasting industry.
 

Self-Assessment (emphasis DSC)

Turn each of your learning outcomes or objectives into a question. Then, ask each student to self-score how confident they feel about being able to demonstrate that outcome or task.

Example:
Learning outcome: Students will be able to compare bacteria vs. viruses.

Change it to a question:  How confident are you in comparing bacteria vs. viruses based on today’s lesson?

Now ask students to score their confidence or ability to do this outcome using a simple scale such as:  “1 = I’m not confident that I can do it” to “5 = I am very confident that I can do it.”

 

How Facebook got addicted to spreading misinformation — from technologyreview.com by Karen Hao

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

By the time thousands of rioters stormed the US Capitol in January, organized in part on Facebook and fueled by the lies about a stolen election that had fanned out across the platform, it was clear from my conversations that the Responsible AI team had failed to make headway against misinformation and hate speech because it had never made those problems its main focus. More important, I realized, if it tried to, it would be set up for failure.

The reason is simple. Everything the company does and chooses not to do flows from a single motivation: Zuckerberg’s relentless desire for growth. Quiñonero’s AI expertise supercharged that growth. His team got pigeonholed into targeting AI bias, as I learned in my reporting, because preventing such bias helps the company avoid proposed regulation that might, if passed, hamper that growth. Facebook leadership has also repeatedly weakened or halted many initiatives meant to clean up misinformation on the platform because doing so would undermine that growth.

In other words, the Responsible AI team’s work—whatever its merits on the specific problem of tackling AI bias—is essentially irrelevant to fixing the bigger problems of misinformation, extremism, and political polarization. And it’s all of us who pay the price.

Artificial Intelligence In 2021: Five Trends You May (or May Not) Expect — from forbes.com by Nisha Talagala

5 trends for AI in 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.

 

From DSC:
More changes to the learning ecosystems in the U.S.


Microschools Can Lead to Macro Change — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark and Rebecca Midles

Excerpts:

However, around the edges, the growth of pods and microschools has benefited thousands of learners. New tools and strategies have made it easier to create microschools of 15 to 150 students as a short-term pilot or long-term learning option.

Given their small size, microschools can be opened quickly in alternative spaces. Microschools quickly create new community-connected learning options (themes, careers, and experiences) for students. They can also be used to quickly address underserved student populations (preschool, dropout recovery, and career education).

Microschools make learning personal. With unique themes, links to community, and porous walls, they can ignite learning for students and innovation for districts.

Also see:

The Highly Competitive, Hypocritical, and Altogether Essential World of Pandemic Pods — from by Julia Beck
During the most stressful school year on record, learning bubbles are the one thing saving working parents’ sanity—so long as no one dares to break the rules.

Still, pod life isn’t all good grades and living by the golden rule. Pods have also been the source of criticism and conflict in the Boston area. They have been at the root of strained relationships in some suburban communities, and criticized for accelerating achievement gaps between the podded and the podless. 

 

Travel from home: 13 virtual museums and galleries to tour — from millionmilesecrets.com by Cynthia Paez Bowman; with thanks to Tatiana Rosado Vidal for this resource


Many museums are offering virtual tours. This image portrays people walking down a long hallway, perusing various works of art.


Excerpt:

Museums, movie theaters, concerts and other events have all taken a hit since COVID-19 emerged. Luckily, the creative world has gotten — creative — and found new, alternative ways to provide virtual cultural and educational experiences during these challenging times. If you’re hankering for a little art immersion, there are a variety of virtual museum tours you can take, all from the comfort of your home. Best of all, you won’t have to navigate a sea of crowds and selfie sticks to get a closer look at a Van Gogh or Monet.

The following list of virtual museums and galleries are organized based on interest:

Virtual Art Museums
Virtual Tour for Kids
Virtual Natural History and Science
Weird Virtual Museums

 

Coronavirus has taught Colorado school kids one key lesson: resilience — from coloradosun.com by Erica Breunlin
They have faced continued uncertainty, lost out on sporting events and missed time with friends. Through it all, kids have learned how to cope.

And as much as schooling has been disrupted in the past year, Colorado students have also grasped lessons beyond their years — the kinds of lessons that are often learned best outside the classroom: a sense of resilience, how to deal with disappointment and the ability to navigate waves of uncertainty from week to week. For all the classroom moments they’ve missed since last March, they’ve also gained a set of coping skills to steer them through whatever trying times come after the pandemic.

From DSC:
And perhaps this kind of learning is what our kids will need to survive and thrive in a rapidly-changing world.

 

Today’s Teens Questioning the Status Quo When It Comes to College — from prnewswire.com by with thanks to Ryan Craig for this resource
National survey finds high schoolers want lower-cost, quicker paths to careers: 50 percent are open to something other than a four-year degree

Excerpt:

For those who have been following the discussion, it will not come as a shock that this demographic is extremely concerned about the cost of higher education. In fact, the number one thing teens would change about college is the price tag. Their second top concern is making sure the path they take directly connects them to a future career. Specifically, the top three things Gen Z teens are most concerned about:

  • 50 percent—graduating with a high amount of debt
  • 44 percent—not getting a job after they graduate
  • 40 percent—not being prepared for a job after school ends

From DSC:
I sometimes use the tag “surviving” and it often has to do with individuals and families. But over the last few years, I have found myself using it for institutions of traditional higher education (as I did for this posting).

It’s time for reinvention if we want those institutions to survive. Those who can’t wait until the status quo returns are likely in for a disappointment, if not outright shock. Over the last several years, many people have already lost their jobs throughout higher ed, positions have gone unfilled, and early retirement offers were made (and often snatched up). The headcounts have been decreasing for years and the workloads have increased for the survivors of such cuts. The use of adjunct faculty members has been on the increase for many years now. 

Those institutions that have cultures that support experimentation, innovation, and support strategic, nimble, entrepreneurial thinking have a better chance of surviving.

 

How to Remotely Support Students Who Learn Differently — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
A new distance learning toolkit offers best practices and advice to support students who learn differently

Excerpt:

The National Center for Learning Disabilities recently partnered with Understood to release a  distance learning toolkit for educators to support students who learn differently during the pandemic.

The need for such a toolkit is clear. One in five students learn differently, and there is evidence that students who struggle academically or utilize individualized support in school are more likely to fall behind during distance learning.

The toolkit builds on the lessons of a 2019 report Forward Together: Helping Educators Unlock the Power of Students Who Learn Differently.

 

 

100 hints that your child may be gifted — from raisinglifelonglearners.com by Colleen Kessler

Excerpt:

Here you’ll find 100 real-life and classic hints that your child may be gifted. Since gifted kids are as unique from one another as they are from the general population, not every one of these will be true for every gifted child, and there will definitely be anecdotes experienced by gifted families that aren’t mentioned here. But in general, you may very well have a gifted child on your hands if…

 

 

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.

 

The Chegg situation is worse than you think — from eliterate.us by Michael Feldstein

Excerpts:

Forbes just ran with an article entitled “This $12 Billion Company Is Getting Rich Off Students Cheating Their Way Through Covid“.

Ouch.

Chegg -- This $12 Billion Company Is Getting Rich Off Students Cheating Their Way Through Covid

[Per Michael] To sum up:

  • Publishers, after selling expensive textbooks to students, sold the answers to the homework questions in those expensive books to Chegg.
  • Chegg sells the answers to the questions to the students, who often use them to cheat.
  • To combat this problem, universities pay for proctoring software, which is apparently more effective at preventing students from going to the bathroom than it is at preventing cheating.
  • To add insult to all of this injury, “to chegg” is now apparently a verb in the English language. We will all have to live with that linguistic violence.

Addendum on 2/9/21:

 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian