accessible online learning: supporting disabled students

While still in revision mode for the statistics and research skills course, the exam takes place in mid-October, two new courses have started today. Apart from getting considerably under pressure, I notice there is a huge difference in teaching (and learning) approaches implied and I can’t help but feeling excited about the challenges ahead. This kind of pressure is a welcome challenge, then.

Both courses make use of a whole range of social media. This means students are asked to reflect on learning progress and expectations in our blogs. We are going to collaborate on wikis, produce a podcast – as self-contained learning resource that can be used by other students – within one of the Master courses (H810 “accessible online learning: supporting disabled students” as part of the MAODE, MA in Online and Distance Education at the Open University) which is concerned with the role of assistive technologies in addressing accessibility challenges for disabled learners. I started with looking into the linklist on Delicious, the social bookmarking site H810 Reading as provided by the course team. All study material, including audio and video material, is available online, which is fantastic. However, there is also one source of conventional learning: a book! Those who would like to have the entire material rather than the relevant chapters only which are made available online, will need to purchase that (online probably…).

Seale, J.K. (2006) E-Learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice. Abingdon: Routledge.

It will be interesting to think about accessibility and disability in a broader sense – as in the online world access and disability seem to apply to many levels other than the physical ones (think digital divide, literacies, corporate barriers etc.) Poor practice is going to be a main topic, I think, and I feel we are going to look at the internet and access to learning environments from a different and a lot more informed angle towards the end of the course in January 2010.

The course requires 3 assessments, they are due in mid-October (1,500 words), end of November (3,000 words) and the last one that contributes to 50% of the overall mark towards the end of January which has a limit of 6,000 words. As usual at the OU (and in contrast to conventional universities), the distinction barrier requires us to be awarded at least 85 marks out of 100 (rather than 70 out of 100).

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About Britta Bohlinger, CFE

Founder and Director of RisikoKlár in Iceland. Native German, global perspective - previously in London and Berlin.
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