Part I: How do I measure accessibility maturity and compliance? — from abilitynet.org.uk by Alistair McNaught

When you ask adults to recall their most memorable and enjoyable learning experiences it nearly always comes back to relationships – a fun teacher, an inspiring lecturer, a lively community. Such human interactions neatly illustrate the difference between maturity and compliance.

A “mature relationship” sounds a lot more attractive than a “compliant” one. Yet many institutions are offering compliance to disabled learners rather than mature relationships.

The lenses we use are:

  1. Main driver – Where is energy being expended and what is measured as success?
  2. Responsibility – Who are the actors. Do they have sufficient authority?
  3. Model of disability – Is the perception “users with issues” or “systems and content with barriers”?
  4. Focus of effort – Is accessibility a “task and finish” project or a long-term quality improvement?
  5. Skills and expertise – What is the focus of training? Who gets it? Is it considered important?
  6. Digital accessibility in policies – Digital accessibility is a vital equality issue. Is it visible in policies?
  7. Culture – Is the focus on minimising risk? Or maximising user experience? Does accessibility straitjacket online learning? Or encourage innovation and experimentation?
  8. User’s digital experience – How consistent is the user experience? How well designed?

Part II: Accessibility maturity in education — from abilitynet.org.uk by Alistair McNaught

Excerpt:

In this article we explore the “Drivers” lens. What is driving your change? The need to be compliant and tick off the boxes? Or a desire to be digitally inclusive, ensuring every student can be as confident, independent and productive as possible?

Part III: Broaden accessibility responsibility beyond learning teams — from abilitynet.org.uk by Alistair McNaught

Excerpt:

At the upper levels of maturity, the confidence and competence of a wide body of staff will mean the organisation moves beyond micromanagement of accessibility. Accessibility may be mandatory but a wide range of templates will be available. Even better, many staff will have enough understanding to create their own accessible content and courses without needing a template. At this level, the following lines of evidence will be available:

  • A senior sponsor will be responsible for digital accessibility across the organisation.
  • Any cross-organisation steering group will be hosted by senior staff, meeting regularly and evidencing positive outcomes.
  • Digital accessibility will be a standing item in self-assessment reviews or quality assurance processes, and appropriate training will be in place to make this meaningful (see the later lens in the final blog coming soon in the series, on skills and expertise!).
  • Students will be actively involved in accessibility developments.

Part IV: Coming soon.


Learn about the Accessibility Maturity Model for Higher and Further Education that AbilityNet and McNaught Consultancy have developed based on Alistair McNaught’s existing model. See here and here.

Some example snapshots:

A virtuous circle of digital accessibility -- positively impacts teaching and learningLenses for self-reflection -- 1 Lenses for self-reflection - 2 Lenses for self reflection - 3

 
 

Learn How To Study Using… Dual Coding — from learningscientists.org by Megan Smith & Yana Weinstein

Excerpt:

This is the final post in a series of six posts designed to help students learn how to study effectively. You can find the other five here:

What is dual coding?

Dual coding is the process of combining verbal materials with visual materials. There are many ways to visually represent material, such as with infographics, timelines, cartoon strips, diagrams, and graphic organizers.

When you have the same information in two formats – words and visuals – it gives you two ways of remembering the information later on. Combining these visuals with words is an effective way to study.

Now, look at only the visuals and explain what they mean in your own words. Then, take the words from your class materials and draw your own visuals to go along with them! 

Now, look at only the visuals and explain what they mean in your own words. Then, take the words from your class materials and draw your own visuals to go along with them!

From DSC:
As the authors comment, this is NOT about learning styles (as research doesn’t back up the hypothesis of learning styles): 

When we discuss verbal and visual materials, it does sound like we could be referring to learning styles. However, it is important to remember that a great deal of research has shown that assessing your learning style and then matching your study to that “style” is not useful, and does not improve learning (2). (For more, read this piece.)

 

What if we could create these kinds of calendars and/or apps for faculty and staff as well as for students? — idea from Daniel Christian. The vehicles could be developed as analog/physical formats or in digital formats and apps. In the digital realm, one could receive a daily notification.

For faculty/staff:

  • Teaching and learning tips; pedagogies (flipped learning, active learning, etc.); ideas that have worked well for others
  • Creative experiments to try (such as digital storytelling or with an emerging technology such as AR, MR, or VR)
  • Tips & tricks re: tools within the learning ecosystem of one’s organization
  • How to make digital content that’s accessible
  • Items re: bias, diversity, equity & inclusion
  • Dates to be aware of (for processes on one’s LMS/CMS as an example)
  • Notes of encouragement and/or humor
  • Links to key resources
  • Other

[The Corporate Training / L&D world could do this as well.] 

An example of what a front cover of a physical flip calendar could look like

An example of what a page might contain within a physical flip calendar

A calendar page that says Memory if the residue of thought.

Example calendar page that states when courses will be published on an LMS

For students

  • Studying tips
  • How to take courses online
  • How people learn
  • Resources, books, people to follow on Twitter, blogs and RSS feeds, etc.
  • Pictures of judges, legislative bodies, law offices, corporate HQs, other
  • Notes of encouragement
  • Ethics
  • Professionalism
  • Other
 

Education Research Is Still Too Dense. We Need More Teacher-Researcher Partnerships. — from edsurge.com by Kristin Simmers

Excerpts:

Many have spoken of the need for various “bridges” in educational research. Bridges linking theory to practice, lab to classroom, and perhaps the most problematic of all, transdisciplinary bridges allowing multiple fields of experts (education, psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience) to collaborate and communicate more effectively. With teachers. As in, the people who are actually tasked with actioning all of this advice!

We can do better. By inviting researchers to sit down with actual teachers to discuss real issues in real schools and co-create real solutions that we can adapt to a variety of circumstances.

Get to know reputable organizations that are linking research to practice, such as Deans for ImpactThe Learning ScientistsStudent Experience Research Network and The Learning Agency Lab

 

 

 

Reimagining the Future of Accessible Education with AI (Part I) — from blogs.microsoft.com by Heather Dowdy

Reimagining the Future of Accessible Education with AI (Part 2) — from blogs.microsoft.com by Heather Dowdy
[During Feb 2021], the Microsoft AI for Accessibility program [called] for project proposals that advance AI-powered innovations in education that will empower people with disabilities. Through a two-part series, we are highlighting projects we are supporting.

And an excerpt from Brad Smith’s (4/28/21) posting:

That’s why today we’re announcing the next phase of our accessibility journey, a new technology-led five-year commitment to create and open doors to bigger opportunities for people with disabilities. This new initiative will bring together every corner of Microsoft’s business with a focus on three priorities: Spurring the development of more accessible technology across our industry and the economy; using this technology to create opportunities for more people with disabilities to enter the workforce; and building a workplace that is more inclusive for people with disabilities.

 

Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month, May 15 – June 15

Excerpt:

Challenges faced as a result of the condition can be physically and psychologically crippling. Let’s make a difference together this Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month, May 15 – June 15, as we create a more universal understanding of the condition, as well as to share successes to inspire our community and beyond. There are various ways you can get involved and make a lasting difference on a global scale.

But do you want to know a secret of what it really is?

  • It’s the determination from the 7-year-old to focus on an assignment at school even though his hand won’t stop ticcing.
  • It’s the bravery of the 16-year-old with a shoulder-shrugging tic who’s taking her driving test for the first time.
  • It’s the strength of a mother who is confused and scared as her child has just been diagnosed.
  • It’s the candor of a 45-year-old who has just been overlooked for his dream job, or worse – recently let go, because of TS.
  • But above all-it’s the perseverance of every child, teen, and adult who lives with TS on a daily basis.

So the next time Tourette Syndrome is used as a punchline, a quip, or a slur, please don’t laugh. Don’t share it. But instead, remember that there are real people behind the joke who may set them back. (source)

 

 

Enrich your history and social studies classes with these resources — from educatorstechnology.com

Excerpt:

Below are three websites we are featuring in our blog for the first time. These are platforms where teachers (and students) can access resources and teaching materials to help them with their history teaching (learning).

Addendum on 5/4/21:

 

A lack of devices but a heroic effort by teachers — from global-edtech.com by Dorothy Lepkowska
EDUCATE webinar hears how countries coped with the Covid school shutdown

Excerpts:

As in many countries, including the UK, schools and students in Portugal were hindered by a lack of devices, Huge Fonseca, an EdTech innovator, told the webinar.  He said teachers were “superheroes” and did what they could to connect with pupils, including distributing work on bicycles.

He said: “In Portugal there is a lack of devices and a lack of teacher training. The profession is among the oldest in Europe, and half of teachers are more than 50 years old. There is no government support to develop them, and if you leave teachers without learning new skills for 20 years or more then it is hard for them to adapt. We need more young people to go into teaching.”

In Uruguay, more coherence was needed between the distribution of technology and teacher training.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, there was a roll-out of technology but little training for teachers.

In Zambia, however, the pandemic offered an opportunity for project-based learning to address some of the problems faced by communities.

She said the pandemic had shone a light on the heroic work of teachers and there was a “shift in perceptions about teachers, and the importance of face-to-face teaching as a valued part of civil society”.

Also see:

 

 

Virtual IEPs should stay — from crpe.org by Katy Bateman and Lanya McKittrick

Excerpt:

When the pandemic hit last spring, schools across the country shifted out of sheer necessity to virtual meetings to discuss students’ Individual Education Plans (IEP). But the move has had some unanticipated benefits, with some educators and parents praising them for their convenience and for empowering family members to be more active participants in discussing their educational needs.

The virtual IEP meetings should stay—at least as an option—even after the pandemic abates.

Virtual IEP meetings can make scheduling and attendance easier for parents and teachers alike. One parent noted the benefits to her as a busy working mom:

“I think one thing [my family] is seeing is there’s a lot of things we could just do that didn’t require us to have to go in [the school building]. . . . I don’t mind coming in, but [virtual is] easier.”

 

Making VR a Reality in the Classroom — from er.educause.edu by Cat Flynn and Peter Frost
Faculty and staff at Southern New Hampshire University piloted virtual reality in an undergraduate psychology course to see if it can be an effective pedagogical tool.

Excerpt:

Meeting the Learning Needs of Gen Z and Beyond
While this study was conducted with current SNHU undergraduates, our team aimed to understand the implications of immersive learning for both today’s students and future learners.

Given Gen Z’s documented love for gaming and their desire for higher education to equip them with problem-solving and practical skills, VR provides a confluence of experiential learning and engagement.

From DSC:
Cost and COVID-19 are major issues here, but this is an interesting article nonetheless.

I think Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Augmented Reality (AR) will play a significant role in the future of how we learn. It may take us some time to get there, but I believe that we will.

 

Penn students use digital platform Gather to imitate in-person office hours — from by Isaac Lee; with thanks to Professor Sue Ellen Christian for this resource

Excerpt:

As students yearn for in-person interaction and the familiarity of their school buildings, platforms like Gather are filling the void — virtually.

Gather, also known as Gather.town, simulates buildings and classrooms on campus where students, professors, and teaching assistants can interact with one another through personal avatars during office hours. Its main feature, “Interaction Distance,” launches a video call between users whose avatars are within five steps from each other in the virtual space. As the users’ avatars walk away from each other, their video and audio quality decrease, simulating an in-person interaction.

Also see:

Image shows how people can gather around at the office, in a conference room, at a university, other -- https://gather.town/

From DSC:
Now picture this in VR.

 

 

AI in education: Features already adopted by companies, universities, and schools — from belitsoft.com by Dmitry Baraishuk

Excerpt:

AI use cases in education include such kinds of applications as: Artificial Intelligence in training, learning and development, AI in higher education and Artificial Intelligence in K-12 education. We’ve gathered and outlined real-life examples of AI in education for each of these three application areas. If you’re an L&D or HR pro, you will find insightful the section “AI in talent management and in Learning and development.” College and university leaders will discover helpful tools to significantly improve their educational process in the section “AI in Higher Education.” For school leaders, we’ve prepared the section “Artificial intelligence in K-12 education.”

Screenshot of a software app showing what an interface might look like for creating a personalized learning journey for someone. You can select from industries, roles, employees, and more.

This screenshot of an app shows what type of skills-related information could be earned, tracked, gathered and displayed.

Addendum on 4/23/21:

 

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.

 

Apple CEO Tim Cook: AR Is “Critically Important” For The Company’s Future — from vrscout.com by Bobby Carlton

Excerpts:

When the subject of AR and it’s potential came up, Cook said “You and I are having a great conversation right now. Arguably, it could even be better if we were able to augment our discussion with charts or other things to appear.”

In Cook’s opinion, AR will change the way we communicate with our friends, colleagues, and family. It’ll reshape communication in fields such as health, education, gaming, and retail. “I’m already seeing AR take off in some of these areas with use of the phone. And I think the promise is even greater in the future,” said Cook.

Also see:

Woman using Augmented Reality to further learn about something.

And it is not enough to try to use existing VR/XR applications and tailor them to educational scenarios. These tools can and should be created with pedagogy, student experience, and learning outcomes as the priority.

 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian