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    Archive for the 'Accessibility' Category

    A New Moodle Platform for the New Academic Year

    By Janice Kiugu, on 18 June 2018

    You have probably heard the news but if not, a new Moodle is on its way…

    Digital Education and the Moodle Improvement Project team have been working hard over the past few months to get a new and improved Moodle ready for the academic year 2018-2019. We know that Moodle is a key part of teaching and learning at UCL and we hope that the New Moodle will provide an improved experience for everyone when it is launched in July.

    There are several reasons a new platform is being implemented, the key one is the work done by the Academic Model Project that has meant that all modules will have new codes, making the module code data currently held on Moodle out of date.  To ensure a smooth set up of Moodle courses for 2018-2019, it is pertinent that we have a new instance of Moodle to host the new module codes and ‘new’ courses.

    The rollout of a new Moodle has also presented us with the opportunity to try to address some of the current issues that users have raised relating to usability, and to ensure the platform can support its increasing usage. Moodle 18/19 will be more accessible, including features allowing users to ‘dock’ blocks and view content in ‘full screen’ mode, as well as adjusted colours and screen contrast to enhance readability.

    The new Moodle has been built on a more robust infrastructure to cater for increased usage now and in the future. The new Moodle will also help us meet GDPR requirements that were introduced in May.  We also hope that staff will take the opportunity of having a new platform to review content on their Moodle courses to ensure that they meet the E-Learning Baseline, which is now policy.

    From early July, new Moodle will be available but will not yet have content. The current (17/18) Moodle will still be accessible with all the same content to support late summer assessments and courses which run through until the autumn term. You will be able to choose between Moodle 17/18, the ‘legacy’ version of Moodle and the new (18/19) platform via a simple landing page.  The Moodle Improvement Project team and Digital Education will be coordinating with department teams to map and migrate content from the current platform of Moodle to the new instance.

    Detailed information about the new platform, data migration and what staff will need to do to prepare for the next academic year is contained on our New Moodle Information page.

    We understand there will doubtless be concerns and queries relating to the new Moodle, so you may want to consult the growing list of FAQs. If you have any comments, questions or concerns about Moodle18/19, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Moodle Improvement Project Team.  Email: moodleproject@ucl.ac.uk

    We have summarised key dates below:

    Key dates

    • June 2018: Briefing for E-Learning Champions and department Moodle Migration Coordinators.
    • July 2018: New Moodle is available (with content still to be migrated)
    • July 2018 – August 2018: Migration of content from current Moodle to Moodle 2018-2019. The Moodle Improvement Project Team will be working with department Moodle Migration Coordinators to map and migrate content from current Moodle to the new instance of Moodle. The focus will be on all taught Moodle courses and programme sites first, with Professional Services courses etc. coming thereafter
    • July – August: Information and demo sessions will be held for all staff. More details on exact event dates can be found on our information pages.

    Useful resources

    BLE/UoL User Experience Conference 2018

    By Jessica Gramp, on 12 May 2018

    Thurs 28th – Fri 29th June

    Hosted by Birkbeck, University of London

    Following the University of London’s successful conference Demystifying User Experience Design & Testing last year, the Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE) in partnership with the University of London (UoL) is holding a free, two-day event for staff based at UoL member institutions on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th June.

    On these two days, we are offering three distinct workshops, which are each focused on different applications of UX. Come along to all three or select those that interest you. Places are limited, so don’t delay registering your place!

    Day 1: Thursday 28th June

    am: User Research: focus groups, user testing and user feedback
    pm: User Centred Content

     

    Thursday 28th June: Morning workshop

    User Research: focus groups, user testing, surveys and user feedback

    A practical session with guest speakers sharing their insights into user research and associated applications.
    Led by Naomi Bain, Web Officer (Training and User Experience) – Birkbeck, University of London

    0930 Coffee & Registration
    • Introduction (Naomi Bain)
    • Keynote: conducting f2f user testing (Jane Lessiter, Goldsmiths)
    • Case studies: sharing experiences of user research
    • Practical session: how to conduct a web user testing session. This session will include tips, discussion, sharing experiences, questions and trying out the roles of tester and testee (Naomi)
    End by 1300

    Thursday 28th June: Afternoon workshop

    User Centred Content

    An overview of the online tools available to help you to plan and review your own content. Mapping users against online content – bring along a piece of your own content to review! Finishing with a panel Q&A discussion around content strategy and governance.
    Led by Melanie Read, Head of Digital – University of London

    1345 Registration, with a prompt start at 1400
    • Welcome, Introductions and icebreaker
    • Content planning – what tools do you use for planning content.
    • Content mapping – against the difference users types and then creating content suitable to that user.
    • Content strategy and governance
    • Panel discussion: how to manage governance
    End by 1630

    Day 2: Friday 29th June

    am: Moodle and Accessibility

     

    Friday 29th June: Morning workshop

    Moodle and Accessibility

    This workshop will focus specifically on Moodle and the considerations and requirements to ensure courses are accessible to all users.
    Led by Sarah Sherman, Service Manager – Bloomsbury Learning Environment

    0930 Coffee and registration
    • Welcome & Introductions (Sarah Sherman, BLE)
    • Presentation 1: Birkbeck For All (Leo Havemann, Birkbeck)
    • Presentation 2: Policy for Accessibility (Nic Charlton, University of London)
    • Presentation 3: Working with Moodle (Nic Christodoulou, SOAS)
    • Presentation 4: Accessibility initiatives at UCL (Jess Gramp & Paul Thompson, UCL)
    • Presentation 5: Checking for accessibility in Moodle (Herve Didiot-Cook, Blackboard)
    • Panel discussion
    • Workshop activity: developing Moodle accessibility guidelines for practitioners
    End by 1300

    Book your place now.

     

    For further details about the event, please contact Sarah Sherman or Melanie Read

    Sneak a peak at the new (more accessible) UCL Moodle theme

    By Jessica Gramp, on 9 October 2017

    As part of a wider Accessible Moodle project, a new UCL Moodle theme is being designed to make it more accessible for those with disabilities. The theme is like a skin (or a wallpaper) that changes the way the text and colours are displayed, without changing any of the content that exists on each Moodle page. As well as changing the look and feel of all Moodle pages, it will provide additional navigation aids in the form of menus, blocks that can be hidden and potentially also docked blocks, which sit to the left of the page for easy access.

    The new theme will be rolled out to all staff and students in the next major upgrade of UCL Moodle in summer 2018. The Moodle theme is applied to a user account and in Summer 2018 everyone will be switched to the new theme automatically as part of the UCL Moodle Summer Upgrade. The theme is not to be confused with Moodle course formats, which allow you to change the way a Moodle course is laid out.

    I wrote earlier on how the new theme will address accessibility issues. A number of staff across UCL provided feedback on the proposed theme and after a number if iterations, we have now agreed on a design that foremost meets the needs of staff with particular disabilities, as well as being more usable for everyone. As well as working with individuals who participated in the project’s initial focus groups, the E-Learning Champions were also given the opportunity to feed in their comments on the proposed theme and forward this to interested colleagues.

    The proposed new UCL Moodle theme showing collapsed topics format

    The proposed new UCL Moodle theme showing collapsed topics format. Click to enlarge.

    We had contemplated a pink theme, however, blue proved to be a better option for a number of staff with particular disabilities. The blue version was also more popular with those staff without disabilities. The below design shows how the tabbed course format will look, but with blue, instead of pink tabs, menus and links.

    Tabbed course format but the pink tabs, text and menus will be blue

    Tabbed course format but the pink tabs, menus and links will be blue. Click to enlarge.

    The UCL Moodle homepage will be simplified and will provide more space for news relating to teaching and learning at UCL. The menus will be blue instead of the pink shown in the design below.

    New more accessible UCL Moodle homepage, but with blue instead of pink menus

    UCL Moodle homepage, but with blue instead of pink menus. Click to enlarge.

    The Accessible Moodle project team at UCL worked closely with designer Ralph Bartholomew from St Albans Web Design and developer Pat Lockley from Pgogy Webstuff to implement the new theme.

    If you have any questions or comments about the new theme, or would like to be involved in the pilot, please contact Jessica Gramp.

    [Edited to remove reference to the theme pilot, which was not able to go ahead as planned].

    Live Captioning and Video Subtitling Service Available

    By Michele Farmer, on 18 July 2017

    Live Captioning for Lectures and Events

    121 Captions is now available to use for these services – they have been added to MyFinance as a service provider.

    For live captioning the process is as follows:

    Book the number of hours you wish from the company – they will only charge you for these hours.

    You will need a laptop set up with a Skype account to connect to their system (the Skype to Skype call is free) along with a Skype Mic (the Disability IT Support Analyst has one for loan if needed). The laptop would preferably be hardwired (via an Ethernet port) to our network – you may need to get a port patched for this, but ISD Network Services will be able to help – please book a job through the Service Desk. Client Platform Services can also help with setting this up – if needed though, please give both services advance warning and log a job through the Service Desk to make sure they are available.  However, in many cases, wireless internet connections should work, but it is best to run a test beforehand to make sure the signal is strong enough.

    The speaker will need to be informed of the setup so they do not wander too far away from the mic whilst giving their speech.

    The end user(s) will need a device (laptop, tablet) and the link (which the company will provide) to be able to view the captions.

    The end user’s screen can be modified (font, colour, etc) and will also have a chat window to feed back to the typist if there are any issues.

    Captioning screen before any font or colour changes

    Captioning screen before any font or colour changes.

    The image above shows an example of basic layout before colour and font modifications.

    The company will also provide you with a transcript afterwards.

    *They also have a new service called 1Fuzion which allows display of captions and PowerPoint slides on the same screen.

    Subtitle your videos for YouTube, Vimeo, staff / college / university intranet

    Upload your video to YouTube (using a private or unlisted setting if necessary). They will download the video directly, subtitle it and email a professional subtitle format file back (with colours / positioning / emphasis / sound effects etc). They just charge for the subtitling and email the subtitle file, which you upload to YouTube in your Video Manager (it takes 30 seconds!). They can send instructions on how to upload to YouTube or Vimeo. Your video can also be embedded on an internal intranet site. The viewer can turn closed caption subtitles on and off as needed without any burning process.

    You would just need to tell them whether you need a closed caption file or a video file with open captions burnt in, whether you want them to use UK or US English spellings, or if you’d like a version with each.

    For an example of how it works in practice, take a look at the RSA shorts on YouTube, switching on the “English captions” using the icon third from right on the toolbar.

    They will email your file usually within 24 hours, Monday to Friday. Orders received after midday on Friday will be delivered by midday on Monday. Weekend delivery can often be arranged, so please contact them if you’re in a rush: bookings@121captions.com

    Closed Captions

    • Subtitles can be turned on and off, as the viewer requires.
    • Suitable for YouTube, Vimeo, staff intranet.
    • Text is searchable by major search engines.
    • Useful to provide viewers with an option to choose subtitles if they struggle to hear your soundtrack or want to watch with the sound off.
    • Least expensive option: They simply provide you with a professional-format timed subtitle file, which you upload to your video.
    • On YouTube, viewers can set the font and size of subtitles which they find easiest to read.
    • Open Captions
    • Subtitles are burnt into your video and are permanently visible.
    • Suitable for all web video platforms.
    • Text is not searchable by Google and YouTube.
    • Useful to provide open access to your video for all, or if your sound isn’t the best quality.
    • More expensive option: As burning-in subtitles involves additional production processes, including the creation and transfer of a new video file, there is an additional cost.
    • You have control over the font and size of the subtitles, which the viewer can’t change.

    Applying Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Principles to VLE design

    By Jessica Gramp, on 16 July 2017

    Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Principles describe how educators can cater to the needs of students with differing needs, including those with disabilities (CAST 2011). It stems from the social model of disability, which places the problem within the environment, rather than with the individual who has the disability (Collins 2014).
    Technology enables the quick modification of learning materials to meet the specific needs of students (Pisha & Coyne 2001) and online communication can even hide a disability from others. For example, a deaf student who participates in an online discussion forum does not need to reveal they are deaf in order to communicate with peers. This can lower the social and communication barriers that may be experienced when communicating in person. Also, there are many modern technologies specifically developed to help people with disabilities engage with online environments. This means online learning environments are particularly well placed to address the goal of Universal Design for Learning. It is the responsibility of the institutions and developers who maintain these environments to ensure they can be accessed by all.
    While most of the UDL guidelines apply to curriculum design, some of them are relevant to the design of the broader virtual learning environment (VLE).

    UDL principles (CAST 2011) mapped to how a VLE might meet relevant checkpoints

    To learn more, click on one of the Guidelines in the boxes below.

    I. Provide Multiple Means of Representation

    PerceptionLanguage, expressions, and symbolsComprehension

    II. Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression

    Physical actionExpression and communication
    Executive function

    UDL Principle 1 aims to ‘provide multiple means of representation’  by ‘providing options for perception’, which includes ‘offer[ing] ways of customizing the display of information’ (CAST 2011). This means the VLE should offer the ability to do things like resize text and enable screen-readers to read aloud text to those who have visual impairments or dyslexia.

    Within UDL Principle 2, guideline 4: aims to ‘provide options for physical action’, which includes ‘vary[ing] the methods for response and navigation’ (CAST 2011). This means ensuring all navigation and interaction can occur via a keyboard and using assistive technologies such as voice activated software like Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which recognises speech and converts it to text.
    UDL Principle 3 seeks to ‘provide multiple means of engagement’ by ‘recruiting interest’, including enabling the learner to choose colours and layouts (CAST 2011). There are a number of tools that enable users to change the fonts and colours on a webpage and it is important these are able to be applied. The VLE should also offer the ability to customise the interface, in terms of re-ordering frequently accessed items, placement of menus and temporarily hiding extraneous information that may distract from the task at hand.
    These three principles and the specific checkpoints mentioned above are being addressed as part of the Accessible Moodle project, which aims to make UCL Moodle more accessible. The main ways these are being addressed are through the development of a more accessible Moodle theme, as well as the development of Moodle code itself. Although the project has limited ability to develop this code, suggestions for improvements are being raised with the Moodle development community via the Moodle Tracker. You can sign up and vote for accessibility enhancements to help these get prioritised, and therefore resolved more quickly, by Moodle HQ and other developers within the community.
    The remaining UDL principles are intended to guide the development of more accessible content and curriculum designs, and therefore these will inform the development of the Universal Design for Learning course that is being developed at UCL, to help educators understand how to design accessible learning tasks, environments and materials.
     
    You can read more about the Accessible Moodle project on the UCL Digital Education blog.
     
    References
    CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. [online]. Available from: http://www.udlcenter.org/sites/udlcenter.org/files/UDL_Guidelines_Version_2.0_(Final)_3.doc [Accessed 16 July 2017].
    Collins, B. (2014). Universal design for learning: What occupational therapy can contribute? [Online]. Occupational Therapy Now, 16(6), 22-23. Available from: http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/21426/1/Collins.pdf [Accessed 16 July 2017].
    Pisha, B. & Coyne, P. (2001) Smart From the Start: The Promise of Universal Design for Learning. Remedial and Special Education. [Online] 22 (4), 197–203. Available from: doi:10.1177/074193250102200402.

    Accessible Moodle Theme

    By Jessica Gramp, on 10 July 2017

    As part of a wider Accessible Moodle project, a new UCL Moodle theme is being designed to make it more accessible for those with particular disabilities.

    The new theme will address some accessibility concerns by using:
    • Larger fonts and icons.
    • Off-white backgrounds to reduce glare.
    • High contrasting and brighter colours.
    • Making the main content areas more prominent.
    • Using icons, alongside or in place of text, to de-clutter the screen and make it easier to identify important links and information.

    If you work or study at UCL and would like to provide feedback on the initial designs, please contact j.gramp@ucl.ac.uk as soon as possible, using your UCL email account.