X Close

Digital Education team blog

Home

Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team

Menu

Archive for the 'Jessica’s Journal' Category

Accessibility of e-learning – 10 key points from the free OU course

Jessica Gramp13 June 2017

The UK Open University (2006) provide a useful introductory course, called Accessibility of eLearning, that will help you understand how to create accessible e-learning experiences that provide access for all. The course can be completed online, or downloaded in a number of common file formats, including for e-readers and as a PDF.

I would strongly suggest either completing the course, or reading the course materials, but if you don’t have time I’m going to summarise the key points in this post:

  1. In 2006, disability affected 10-20% of every country’s population, and this number is growing.
  2. In 2006, 15% of the UK population, over 16 years old, self-declared a disability.
  3. A disabled person is one who has a mental or physical disability that has a substantial, long term (12 months or more), adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
  4. Around 1 in 10 men and 1 in 200 women have red-green colour blindness.
  5. UK Universities are legally obligated to make reasonable, anticipatory adjustments to ensure those with disabilities are not discriminated against.
  6. There are two views of disability. The medical model describes the problem of disability as stemming from the person’s physical or mental limitation. The social model sees disability as society restricting those with impairments in the form of prejudice, inaccessible design, policies of exclusion, etc.
  7. Accessibility is about both technical and usable access for people with disabilities. For example, although a table of data may be technically accessible by a blind person using a screen reader, they may not be able to relate the data in each cell to its column or row heading, so the meaning of the data is lost in the process, rendering the table unusable for that person.
  8. Computers enable even severely disabled people to communicate unaided, giving them independence and privacy that is not possible when they need to rely on human assistants.
  9. When communicating online, a disability may not be visible, removing barriers caused by people’s reactions to the disability.
  10. Creating accessible learning environments helps everyone, not just those with disabilities. For example, products that can be used by blind people are also useful for people whose eyes are busy*.

*This last point reflects my own preference for listening to academic papers while running or walking to work, when I would be otherwise unable to “read” the paper. As a student and full-time employee, being able to use this time to study enables me to manage my time effectively and merge my fitness routine, with study time. This is only possible because my lecturers, and many journals these days too, provide accessible documents that can be read out loud using my mobile smartphone.

This list brifly summarises the key points I drew from the OU’s Accessibility of eLearning course and demonstrates some of the ways we, as developers of online courses, can make better online learning experiences for all our students, including those with disabilities.

References

Open University (2016) Accessibility of E-Learning. [Online]. Available from: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/education/professional-development-education/accessibility-elearning/content-section-0 [Accessed: 13 June 2017].

Addressing ten Moodle accessibility concerns for UCL’s disabled users

Jessica Gramp17 May 2017

UCL staff from Digital Education Advisory and UCL’s Disability Services teams are currently looking at how to improve the accessibility of UCL Moodle for those with disabilities, which will benefit all users. Information from two focus groups, one with students and one with staff, have highlighted a number of concerns, which the Accessible Moodle project aims to address.

The focus groups identified ten areas of concern (listed in order of priority):

  • Clutter – it is difficult to find what you are looking for amongst irrelevant links and content.
  • Emphasis – understanding what is the most important information is not easy.
  • Layout – page elements are not configurable, there is too much visible at once and the blocks are too wide.
  • Navigation and Orientation – pages are long and disorganised, with links to external services not adequately signposted.
  • Usability – some interfaces, especially for assessments, are particularly difficult to use.
  • Awareness – useful features (skip links) and services (Moodle snapshot) remain unknown to those who would benefit from them.
  • Personalisation – there’s a lack of configurable page elements (blocks, fonts, font sizes and colours) or information about how to do this independently with browser plugins and other assistive technologies.
  • Text – there’s a lot of overly long text that is too small, in a difficult to read font with poor contrast and in difficult formats both in Moodle and the resources it contains.
  • Consistency – there’s inconsistencies between some Moodle courses and conversely some courses not being adequately distinguishable from others.
  • Graphics – there’s heavy reliance of written information that could be expressed more simply with icons and images, with appropriate alternative text for those using screen readers.

The learning curve of using new interfaces, problems with assessment, and clunky mobile access were also mentioned by the focus group participants.

These issues will be addressed by a number of initiatives:

  • A new, more accessible UCL Moodle theme for use on desktop and mobile devices.
  • Changes to Moodle configuration.
  • Enhanced Moodle features.
  • Improved training, staff development and support.
  • Proposals to Moodle HQ and iParadigms (who provide Turnitin) to improve interfaces.

Further updates on this project will follow on the Digital Education blog.

UCL ChangeMakers project funding for 2017/18 available

Jessica Gramp8 May 2017

UCL ChangeMakers

“I cannot recommend the experience enough for any fellow student willing to enrich their learning and skill repertoire while deriving the satisfaction of contributing towards enriching the experiences of UCL’s student community through a UCL ChangeMakers Project.”

– UCL ChangeMakers Project Lead

 

 

Make your mark on UCL: Do a UCL ChangeMakers project

UCL ChangeMakers supports students & staff in running or getting involved in a project to innovate, enhance or improve the learning experience at UCL. There is up to £1000 project funding available for your project (to cover costs such as catering, survey or focus group incentives etc.) in addition to student stipends of up to £150 each. You will also be fully supported by the UCL ChangeMakers Team.

The deadline for proposals is 22nd June 2017 for projects commencing next academic year (September 2017).

UCL ChangeMakers is open to all students and staff at UCL. If you want to talk to the UCL ChangeMakers Team about your idea or simply find out more about what’s involved then come and chat to them and other interested people at one of our Q&A sessions on 16th & 26th May; 13th & 15th June 2017. Sign up for a Q&A session.

 

Apply to UCL ChangeMakers…

 

 

You said, we did

Jessica Gramp22 March 2017

A number of recommendations emerged from the E-Learning Reports developed in 2013 across the Bartlett, Engineering and Maths and Physical Sciences (BEAMS) departments. Here’s what you asked for and what the Digital Education Advisor for the faculty arranged in response, in collaboration with staff from across the Information Services Division.

 

quoteYou wanted to import module timetable information from the Common Timetable into Moodle.
We developed a Common Timetable iCal feed to import module timetables for displaying in the Moodle calendar.

 

quoteYou wanted a simplified quiz creation process with guidelines and checklists for importing questions.
We purchased the Moodle Word Table format plugin to help staff quickly develop quizzes with simple question types (not calculated or drag and drop) in Word, including those with images and LaTeX.

 

quoteYou wanted us to run staff workshops and demos to increase knowledge of e-learning tools & their potential use.
We ran workshops across the faculties and in individual departments catered to the needs of the departments.

 

quoteYou wanted to simplify the process for exporting grades out of Moodle and into Portico.
We imported the UCL student number into Moodle and added this column to the Moodle Gradebook export, simplifying the uploading of grades from Moodle into Portico. A video explaining how to move grades from Moodle to Portico is now available on the UCL E-Learning Wiki – a space for staff to share their e-learning practice:

 

Creating a Moodle Template based on the UCL E-Learning Baseline 2016

Jessica Gramp14 March 2017

The Digital Education Advisor for BEAMS, Jess Gramp, worked with the E-Learning Champion for Science and Technology Studies (STS), Christina Ogunwumiju, to develop a Moodle course template that meets the UCL E-Learning Baseline 2016.

Christina then applied this baseline to every Moodle course in the department using the Moodle import feature. This means students now have a more consistent experience across modules. They can now easily find their learning resources and activities because they appear in common sections across their Moodle courses.

Jess developed a guidance document for staff, to show them how to meet the baseline when using the template. Complying with the list of items on the template guide (which only number 18) is a lot quicker than having to make decisions about how to adhere to all 30 items on the the entire baseline checklist, without the guidance of template text.

You can view and download the template guidance document below. If it doesn’t load, please refresh this page.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download

 

If you would like to develop a Moodle template to improve consistency in your own department, please contact Digital Education at digi-ed@ucl.a.uk.

Engaging the E-Learning Champions in the Bartlett

Jessica Gramp13 March 2017

At this term’s E-Learning Champions in the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment I suggested a new approach where members were asked to answer a few questions on slides about their use of e-learning in their department. This really helped engage the staff, however the questions were a bit repetitive, so I’ve since streamlined the slides.

The student experience officer who arranges and minutes these meetings agreed that:

“…they seemed much more engaged, and I think this presentation format works well. It felt as though some real breakthroughs were made for people, which was great.”

I’m hoping to try this approach in the other faculties within BEAMS: Engineering and Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download