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H810 – Emerging technology (A31.1)

December 30, 2010

I have to admit that going backward in a time where every synapse in my brain screams move forward otherwise you will not manage to finish your two ECA’s in time, is indeed not easy. However, I won’t miss any important points and will take a least a brief glance in every topic to see what’s about. Which means I am taking a strategic approach, focused on finishing the courses as best as possible.

Going through the forum discussions and the Wiki contributions I was strongly reminded on technical accessibility issues we came around in previous topics. The lack of AT and/or inaccessible computer systems, online resource or e-learning activities, caused by poor design and lack of awareness by staff will outstrip its usefulness and create a second digital divide, because though students have access to computer labs in our school, are they greatly lacking AT, which means that disabled students are still ‘have-nots’ (Seale, 2006).

Web 2.0 with it’s emphasise on collaboration, communication and resource sharing, news feeds, social networking offers great potentials for e-learning, but like mention before not for all, and disabled students might experience several accessibility issues.

The course material presents the following accessibility issues:

  • Technical accessibility – assistive technology might not be in place, or lack behind developments, interactive web elements might be inaccessible, pages might be overloaded with information making it difficult for e.g. dyslexic students.
  • Manageability – the increasing dependence on online communication, e.g. forums, chats, etc. may cause problems for those students who cannot skim read and manage the volume of all messages. If forum contribution is assessed it may even increase the problems for disabled students. Even I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of new messages and forum contributions and have the feeling I cannot cope with them.
  • Accessibility of other student’s contributions – how can non-disabled students be encouraged to follow best practice? Since I take this case I take a lot more care to make my contributions more accessible. I label e.g. links and diagrams, a practice that I not really considered before. Now it became a habit.
  • Time or keeping up – the interaction model requires students to develop different mental models of web pages and content, which requires them to use their assistive technology in different ways. All that involve significant more learning effort and time.
  • The role of the moderator – his/her role is to ensure that all students are able to participate, however that may require as well a lot more time and effort on the side from the tutor, time that the need to take away from other students?!

Well, I guess there are many more issues to consider, but I need to proceed.

From → H810

  1. I totally agree – since starting H810 I have moderating my own habits, and I now label all images I upload with alt-text. If you and I can change our practice, and we can each influence two others to add alt-text, then the world of accessibility will improve slightly…

  2. For reasons that aren’t apparent the forum discussions have been non-existent, no discussion, just posts to the tutor and his response. The Wiki still looks like it did in week 1 or 2 with next to nothing added to it. I think people have decided it is a book they read and write a few essays on. In which case the entire module could have been done in a fortnight 😦

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