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Creating Quality Online Courses: Accessibility & Usability

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Accessibility & Usability

Accessibility and Usability means ensuring a quality learning experience for all learners. When talking accessibility it mean those with disabilities can view the content. When we talk about Usability, it means all individuals regardless of their abilities or disabilities, has the ability to navigate the course.

Accessibility

One function used to help with images is the alternative text functions. It serves to:

  • allows screen readers to read alternate text, on things like images
  • it displays text in place of the image in browsers where the user has chosen not to view images because of visual problems or bandwidth issues
  • finally it provides a meaning and description to images which can be read by search engines

Other important accessibility functions to include in your online course is:

  • Transcripts or Caption for all Audio and video files
  • PDFs that have been saved as searchable text and not images
  • Descriptive text, or alt text in when using tables in a document

Usability

Usability Means the Ability to Navigate

  • Course navigation must be intuitive and simple
  • The course provides alternative means of access to course materials in formats that meet the needs of diverse learners
  • the course should be free of irrelevant graphics, borders, etc.,
  • files should be saved in accessible formats
  • font choices and colors should be consistent
  • aclean look without excessive decoration is easier to download and use
  • avoid flashy colors, ornamental clip art, and video for its own sake
  • keep your structureparallel so students can get in a routine
  • grouprelated items together and present them in a chronological sequence
  • do not send students to three different areas to get their lectures, assignments, quizzes and web links, just keep it simple
  • make sure the content is readability
  • all multimedia must be easy to use and information provided about the accessibility of all technologies required in the course

 

 

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Creating Quality Online Courses: Course Technology

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Course Technology

It may sound funny to discuss technology integration in an online course, because in and of itself the online class is technology. When we talk about technology in the online class, we are discussing technology outside of the realm of the Learning Management System Technology and that takes a little skill.  Technology integration is more than just throwing up a variety of tools and expect students to be engaged by the flashiness. Technology must be used to support the course learning objectives. Technology integration is successful when the use of technology is:

  • Routine and transparent
  • Accessible and readily available for the task at hand
  • Used in support the learning objectives
  • Promote learner engagement and active learning
  • The technologies are current
  • Links are provided to privacy policies for all external tools

Many different types of technology exist for the online classroom, but again you must use it in a way that promotes the learning objectives of your course. Following is a partial list of tools you may find helpful in your online classroom:

  • Game-Based Learning and Assessment
  • Interactive Whiteboards
  • Student Response Systems
  • Web-Based Projects, Explorations, and Research
  • Podcasts, Videos, or Slideshows
  • Collaborative Online Tools like Wikis
  • Social Media
  • Discussion boards
  • Webinars

You can use a variety of these tools, but keep them relevant. For example, video in your classroom is perfectly acceptable, but asking a student to watch an hour-long video that you recorded during your last lecture may not be so wise. Usually an hour-long lecture is filled with a lot of dead space and illegible content. Videos should be edited and all irrelevant information removed to create manageable chunks. These chunks allow the viewer to absorb the important bits of information relevant to the course objectives while not wasting time watching things of no value. In addition to chunking the information, you will need to make sure all content is accessible to all students, as in ADA compliant.

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