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
 

How Teaching Robotics Fosters Tech and Soft Skills — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
Students who compete in robotics competitions learn STEM skills, but equally important are the social skills they gather

Group of 5 young students with their projects for robotics competition

Excerpt:

Beginning on May 17, Fausto and his teammate’s on the Owlbots 3028x will compete at the first-ever Live Remote VEX Robotics World Championship. The event runs through May 29 and is hosted by The Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation and VEX Robotics.

 

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:

 
 

Doubling down on accessibility: Microsoft’s next steps to expand accessibility in technology, the workforce and workplace — from Brad Smith, President of Microsoft

Excerpt:

Accessibility by design
Today, we are announcing a variety of new “accessible by design” features and advances in Microsoft 365, enabling more than 200 million people to build, edit and share documents. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies, we aim to make more content accessible and as simple and automatic as spell check is today. For example:

  • A new background accessibility checker will provide a prompt to fix accessibility issues in content across the core Office apps and Outlook will nudge users to correct accessibility issues.
  • AI in Microsoft Word will detect and convert to heading styles crucial for blind and low-vision readers.
  • A new Excel navigation pane designed for screen readers will help people easily discover and navigate objects in a spreadsheet.
  • We’re expanding Immersive Reader, used by 35 million people every month, to help with the comprehension of PowerPoint slides and notes.
  • In Teams, high-contrast mode can be used to access shared content using PowerPoint Live  which will reduce eye strain and accommodate light sensitivity with Dark Mode in Word.
  • New LinkedIn features that include auto-captioning for LinkedIn Live broadcasts, captions for enterprise content and dark mode later this year.

More than 1 billion people around the world live with a disability, and at some point, most of us likely will face some type of temporary, situational or permanent disability. The practical impacts are huge. 

Addendum on 5/6/21:

 

 

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.”

 

How to Learn Animation At Home: Beginner’s Guide to Online Courses, Software and Resources — from graphicmama.com by Al Boicheva

Excerpt:

On the bright side of the current reality, it’s the perfect time to be productive and learn new skills. Why not trying to learn animation? If this is something you’ve always been interested in and would like to try, it’s not necessary to do it the traditional way and study it at a university. In fact, you can do it online in the comfort of your home.

So, what are the options to become a self-taught animation designer? Let’s walk through the process together.

 

From DSC:
I read an interesting article out at Inside Higher Ed from the other day:

Rejecting Remote Proctoring — from insidehighered.com by Elizabeth Redden
University of Michigan Dearborn made a universitywide decision to reject remote proctoring and invest in faculty development instead.

At the same time many other colleges were considering whether to employ the technologies, UM Dearborn’s leadership made the choice that eproctoring was unacceptably invasive, at least when it comes to students who hadn’t signed up for that kind of surveillance.

From DSC:
Lower stakes assessments offered with a greater variety of ways to check for mastery. That fits in with what I’m reading about re: the topic of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which offers:

  • Multiple methods of engagement
  • Multiple methods of representation
  • Multiple methods of action & expression <– to demonstrate what they are learning

It also reduces anxiety — something that’s needed in this period of time.

 

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.

 

Flipped Learning Can Be a Key to Transforming Teaching and Learning Post-Pandemic — from edsurge.com by Robert Talbert

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

What is flipped learning? A common and oversimplified answer is that it is an approach that asks students to watch lecture videos at home before class so that class time can be used for more interactive activities.

But the best way to describe it is to contrast it with traditional teaching frameworks. In the traditional framework, students get first contact with new concepts in class (the “group space” as I call it in my book on flipped learning) and then higher-level interactions are all on the student side through homework and so on (in the “individual space”). Flipped learning puts first contact with new ideas before group space activities, then uses the group space for active learning on mid- and upper-level tasks.

It’s worthwhile to compare flipped and traditional frameworks by contrasting the assumptions that each framework makes…

We can no longer assume that a pure lecture pedagogy is an acceptable teaching model or that banning technology is an acceptable practice.

 

Supporting Students Where They Are: Bentley’s CIS Sandbox — from campustechnology.com by Mary Grush and Mark Frydenberg

Excerpt:

Frydenberg: …So, we started offering tutoring services in four ways: drop-in hours online; drop-in hours in person (following safety guidelines); online review sessions with a tutor assigned to each class; and tutoring on demand by appointment, which I like to call “Uber” tutoring.

Grush: Tutoring that follows an “Uber” model?

Frydenberg: Sure. When you reserve an Uber, you ask for a driver to pick you up at a specific place at a designated time. The same model applies here: Students complete an online form to request a tutor on a given topic and indicate when they want to meet with a tutor. Through a software application, the request is automatically routed to all tutors capable of tutoring in that subject. The first tutor who claims the request may contact the student to set up an appointment on Zoom. This creates an incentive for tutors to accept appointments, and offers flexibility as to when they choose to work. They don’t have to set aside a block of hours to be available and wait for someone to show up to meet with them. This model of reserving a tutor is available for students in 17 sections of upper level and graduate courses.

 

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

 

 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian