Sunday, March 17, 2013

Online Teaching and Accessibility

I just returned from Las Vegas, Nevada, where I attended the 2013 Conference on College Composition and Communication. Throughout this conference, two ideas firmly situated themselves in my mind - accessibility and online teaching. The panel I presented on (and indeed my presentation itself) was interested in making literacy and writing accessible to all. I also, in the same interest with which I joined the EDCMOOC, attended numerous panels about teaching online, including one during which Cs Committee on Online Teaching released best practices for online instruction.

I look, now and in the future, to determine how to make online education accessible.

Why does accessibility matter? Accessibility in education is not just about ensuring those with disabilities can obtain an education, but online education brings with it other obstacles (notably technological access). I discussed technological access in my post "Imperial MOOCs," and for our students at our local institutions, technological accessibility is also important. 

Questions to ask ourselves about accessibility:
  • Can students with visual impairments use screen readers to read the documents and readings you post?  
  • Is the course management system accessible to students with visual impairments? How much training and familiarization might a student need to use the system?
  • Are videos, podcasts, or other recorded lectures accessible to students with hearing impairments? 
  • Are there multiple ways to access information? 
  • Does the material require fast Internet connections? Do videos, podcasts, and documents download quickly or will they take a long time on dial up or satellite connections? 
  • Are students expected to access the course numerous times during the course of the week? 
  • How do we evaluate students? Do we provide different ways for students to prove their mastery of concept? 
Are there other things we as online teachers should be concerned with? How do you make your online course accessible? 

No comments:

Post a Comment