Accessibility

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Conference Features Session on Inclusive Education through Accessibility

This year, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Annual Meeting offered nearly 150 breakout sessions, featured keynotes, posters, and even an “extended reality” (virtual and augmented reality) experience lab.

Eric Kunnen, Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies, from Grand Valley State University and Heidi Pettyjohn, Executive Director for Accessibility, from the University of Cincinnati presented a poster entitled: “Strategies to Establish Pathways for Inclusive Education”, focusing on the topics of inclusive education, accessibility, and universal design for learning (UDL).

Heidi Pettyjohn, Executive Director for Accessibility, University of Cincinnati and Eric Kunnen, Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies, Grand Valley State University pictured, presenting a poster at the ELI Conference.

Heidi Pettyjohn (left), Executive Director for Accessibility, from the University of Cincinnati and Eric Kunnen (right), Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies, from Grand Valley State University present a poster at the ELI Annual Meeting

Notes from the following sessions are available on the #EdTech with Eric blog under the #ELI2019 tag:

  • #ELI2019 – EDUCAUSE Horizon Report
  • #ELI2019 – Improving Student Success Analytics with Multiple Data Sources
  • #ELI2019 – Presentation Pair: Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning
  • #ELI2019 – Use Them or Lose Them: Digital Devices for Student Engagement
  • #ELI2019 – App Smackdown! A Battle Royal of Education Technology
  • #ELI2019 – Poster Sessions
  • #ELI2019 – Demonstrations: Extended Reality in Higher Education
  • #ELI2019 – Presentation Pair: Learning Horizons
  • #ELI2019 – How Higher Ed Can Cultivate Students to Lead the Future We Want to Live In
  • #ELI2019 – On Innovation, Extended Reality, and Digital Transformation
  • #ELI2019 – Strategies to Establish Pathways for Inclusive Education

About ELI

The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) is a community of higher education institutions and organizations committed to advancing learning through information technology innovation. The ELI Annual Meeting provides an opportunity for those interested in learning principles and practices, all dimensions of student success, and innovation in post-secondary learning to explore, network, and share.

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ELI Key Issues in Teaching and Learning

keyissues2019ELIRecently, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative released the 2019 “Key Issues in Teaching and Learning“.

Each year, ELI surveys the higher education community to determine key issues and opportunities in postsecondary teaching and learning. These key issues serve as the framework, or focal points, for our discussions and programming throughout the coming year.

More than 1,400 community members voted, and the following were identified as the 2019 Key Issues.

This blog post captures the highlights from the ELI’s 2019 Key Issues with alignment and connection to the work of the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at GVSU.

 


1 – Faculty Development & Engagement

ELI1The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at GVSU is on mission to engage with faculty and to “Support faculty pursuing innovation in teaching and learning…”

Innovation in teaching and learning happens when technology is creatively applied to craft active learning techniques that help students most efficiently achieve learning objectives.

The following facets of the eLearning team provide effective faculty development at GVSU:

From a professional development perspective, the eLearning team offers: consultations and coaching, on demand support, seminars and workshops, a teaching and technology podcast, tips for teaching with technology, faculty learning communities, video “TECHBytes”, and a “Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium” that has been held for 18 years.

2 – Online & Blending Learning

ELI2Distance education continues to grow at GVSU with a +25% increase in enrollment in online/hybrid classes since 2017.  With over 5,000 student enrollments in the Fall 2018 semester, just over 17% of all students are taking at least 1 online or hybrid course.

To support distance education initiatives, eLearning and Emerging Technologies has trained over 250 faculty to teach online/hybrid classes in the past year through the Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery course.

As one of the most desired professional development opportunities, the “Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery” workshop  is a required training for all faculty that teach an online or a hybrid class at GVSU. As part of this professional development, Blackboard competencies are also required.

As faculty begin to engage with online and blended learning, and construct courses to serve remote learners, the skills and techniques learned also provide extensive benefits to on-campus students as well.

3 – Instructional & Learning Experience Design

ELI3Through the IDeL group of instructional designers, the eLearning team facilitates faculty learning communities on the topic of online teaching and learning, enhancing the skills of faculty. The instructional designers have also established TIP (theory into practice) sheets, offering guidance to faculty in the use of student feedback to help shape and improve teaching.

The eLearning team also hosts regular weekly open office hours to connect directly with faculty, enabling opportunities to focus on learning experience design by leveraging technology.

Finally, each year, the eLearning team organizes the Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium to provide a venue to showcase unique innovative pedagogical approaches based on peer experience in delivering high quality courses.

4 – Digital & Information Literacy

ELI4GVSU has established opportunities for students to build literacy and fluency as it relates to the use of everything digital. The eLearning team supports equipping the digital literacy of students and the campus community by offering a variety of enterprise applications and services.

The eLearning Digital Studio maintains a vast project list that provides great breadth and depth of leveraging to technology that contributes to dialogue around 21st century literacy skills for students.

Virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, and a wide array of other emerging technologies are provided to students through the Atomic Object Technology Showcase.

Further, the eLearning team is looking into the future by working collaboratively to establish more support for student-based digital media creation at GVSU through a potential “Digital Media Center“.

5 – Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

ELI5Diversity, equity, and inclusion is “built-in to the DNA” at GVSU through the university’s vision:  “GVSU demonstrates its commitment to providing an inclusive learning environment where all students can explore new directions, find their niches, and develop skills for life and productive careers.”

The eLearning team focuses on supporting inclusive education through accessibility and UDL by equipping faculty. Blackboard Ally was adopted and put into production at GVSU in the summer of 2018 to:  generate awareness, build capacity, and increase institutional oversight of accessibility.

In addition, Panopto was implemented to provide video caption capability for faculty who are using instructional video content in their teaching. Both Ally and Panopto support the principles of inclusive education through accessibility and UDL.

6 – Competency and New Methods of Assessment

ELI6eLearning facilitated the implementation of open badges for faculty professional development in partnership with the Faculty Teaching and Learning Center and University Libraries at GVSU.  In fact, the first badge awarded at GVSU was eLearning and Emerging Technologies’s “#EdTech Summer Teaching Institute” badge. Further, 7 badges are currently offered by eLearning, including 4 Blackboard badges, a digital media badge, and a badge for the successful completion of Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery.

GVSU also offers a variety of credit and non-credit student badges such as mobile computing, data analytics, and cybersecurity.

7 – Learning Analytics

ELI7Taking advantage of “big” data and “small” data through analytics offers many opportunities.

BIG data, meaning the large scale and mass amounts of data that can inform strategic decisions. Also, SMALL data in the use of course level information about students and their levels of engagement in their courses. Solutions that include early alert, intervention, and that provide student insights empower faculty and advisors with unique capabilities in the support of early alert to improve student retention.

Applications such as Starfish Retention Solutions and Blackboard Predict provide capabilities to inform faculty and advisors with students at-risk through early alert, and also at the individual instructor level through in course tools such as the Blackboard Retention Center.

Notable also is “Clicks, Grades, Engagement, and Student Success” whereby, Blackboard has provided research in how successful students are using learning management system tools based on learning analytics.

“The most successful students are those who access MyGrades most frequently; students doing poorly do not access their grades. Students who never access their grades are more likely to fail than students who access them at least once.”

8 – Open Education

ELI8GVSU has been involved in the open education resources (OER) movement for many years, and most recently has seen a growth in the adoption and use of #OER in teaching and learning. For example, there have been several adoptions of OpenStax textbooks in Chemistry and Mathematics and a new interdisciplinary team lead by the university’s library is helping to coordinate resources and raise awareness.

In fact, GVSU has been participating with the K-12 community through the #GOOPEN initiative as part of the US Department of Education’s goal to encourage states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning. GVSU joined the K-12 #GOOPEN initiative in January last year.

Further, there has been activity across the state for several years, and one recent example is the #MIOERSummit, which brought together faculty across the state with the goal of improving student success through the use and adoption of OER. At GVSU, students have saved over $480,000 in textbook costs, with 3000+ course sections each semester that require no paper textbook.

9 – Evaluating Instructional & Learning Innovations

ELI9

Gathering data to inform decision making enables measurement and supports continuous quality improvement.

The eLearning team has used surveys to gather improvement recommendations for the Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Design and Development course, Blackboard, and also the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research survey of faculty and students and their attitudes and use of technology in education.

10 – Academic Transformation

ELI10

The eLearning team aligns with GVSU’s 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas that support academic transformation and innovative faculty development and strategic academic transformation:

Institutional outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 1.D.2: At least 93% of faculty members regularly use electronic course management tools, such as Blackboard, in their teaching.

Objective 3.D.2: At least 30% of undergraduate courses are offered in innovative approaches and formats, such as hybrid, online and competency-oriented.

Objective 3.D.3: At least 30% of graduate courses are offered in innovative approaches and such as hybrid, online and competency-oriented.

Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution.

As part of the eLearning team’s work toward academic transformation, the latest emerging technologies are a focus of the Atomic Object Technology Showcase. The mission of the showcase is to provide faculty, staff, and students with an immersive and engaging environment to: interactdiscoverlearn, and share how innovative emerging technologies can enhance teaching and improve student learning at GVSU. With over 40 emerging technology exhibits that include virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D printing and makerspace, the showcase is an outstanding and very unique example of education, technology, and innovation.


See also: “EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative ‘2018 Key Issues’ Meet the Initiatives in eLearning at GVSU

 

Designing Quality Courses in Blackboard with Cheryl Kautz

kautzcSit back, relax, and watch as Cheryl Kautz, Affiliate Instructor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU guides you through her CIS 231 course in Blackboard.

 

 

As a previous “Blackboard Exemplary Course Award” and “Most Inclusive Classroom Award” recipient, Cheryl focuses on using quality course design methods including key tools in Blackboard such as Blackboard Ally for accessibility (eg. Syllabus, course content etc. includes alternative formats such as audio only), Panopto for video with popup formative quizzes, and tips for improving navigation including using course links to keep students on track and to provide easier navigation.

Highlighted in Cheryl’s course tour are the following design principles in using Blackboard to delivery quality instruction at GVSU.

Streamlined Course Menu

Customizing the course menu provides students with a simple and easy way to navigate the areas of her course. When designing your menu, aim to keep your navigation areas as clean, short and simple as possible. Use headings and dividers to break up the menu into chunks.

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Course Links

Course Links assists students with navigating and jumping from section to section in a course site. Using Blackboard Course Links ensures students can easily navigate to other areas of your course quickly.

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Checking for Accessibility with Blackboard Ally

Cheryl has dedicated time for inclusive learning by ensuring the content uploaded is accessible with Blackboard Ally. A GREEN indicator indicates that the file has a good rating. Yellow or red indicators appear when a file has low or poor levels of web accessibility.

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Students benefit from using Blackboard Ally by accessing alternative file formats such as audio only.

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Getting Started

Establish a “Getting Started” content area to help students “get started”. This area of Cheryl’s course provides:

  • links to “Are you ready for online learning at GVSU”
  • encouraging students to upload a Blackboard profile picture for increased engagement
  • an introductory Blackboard blog post for student to student interaction
  • a course link directing students to begin the “week 1 tasks”

Weekly Folders

Each weekly folder uses a consistent design and includes key dates and reminders such as midterm, spring break, final exams, and most importantly the objectives to be covered. The objectives are connected to the learning activities and assessments to inform students clearly about what they are expected to accomplish throughout the week which is good instructional design.

weeklyfolders.jpg

Inside of each weekly folder, students are presented with a “To Do” instruction list, practice assignments, video lectures, discussions, projects, quizzes, audio PowerPoints, and homework help.

weeklyfolderlayout.jpg

Panopto Videos with Quizzes

Cheryl uses Panopto to present video based instruction with quizzes to check for students’ understanding and to provide formative feedback.

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panoptoquiz.jpg


eLearning and Emerging Technologies Team offers Course Design and Development Support

As you build courses in Blackboard, please feel free to reach out to the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team for assistance in most effectively leveraging the use of Blackboard in your teaching at GVSU. We’re here to help!

Top 8 Posts from 2018

At GVSU, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team is here to support faculty pursuing innovation in teaching and learning. Our team is dedicated to supporting faculty, contributing to teaching excellence, and enhancing student success through:

  • exemplary instructional design
  • effective application and integration of instructional technologies
  • interactive digital media development
  • administration and enhancement of the university’s enterprise learning management system (Blackboard)
  • deployment of innovative emerging technologies

pexels-photo-714899

Reflecting back on 2018, we would like to recognize and celebrate the work of faculty at GVSU in their efforts to advance education through the application of technology in teaching.

Here are the top 8 posts from the eLearning blog in the year 2018:

1 – 7 Things you didn’t know that Blackboard can do!

2 – GVSU selects Blackboard Ally to Support Inclusive Education

3 – First ever hackGVSU ‘Hackathon’ brings Innovative Ideas to Enhance Blackboard at GVSU

4 – Applying the Blackboard LMS to TPACK

5 – Teaching with the Lightboard at GVSU

6 – EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative “2018 Key Issues” meet the Initiatives in eLearning at GVSU

7– eLearning Team celebrates receiving the 2018 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Professional Development

8 – GVSU selects Panopto to Increase Accessibility and Enhance Teaching with Video

Data-Driven Strategies for Inclusive Learning with Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally’s Community User Group site is chuck full of helpful information for colleges and universities looking to learn how Ally supports inclusive education.

One of the highlights of this site are community stories which showcase a variety of use cases of “Ally in Action“. Stories have been shared by the University of Derby, California State University Chico, California State University Fresno, Tacoma Community College, Technical College System of Georgia, and recently our own Grand Valley State University!

Read the GVSU Blackboard Ally Community Story
“Data-driven Strategies for Inclusive Learning”

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Blackboard Ally supports Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Education at GVSU

GVSU’s use of Blackboard Ally supports diversity, equity, and inclusive education.

Recently the GV Forum featured a highlight of Ally as the university works to increase the accessibility of course content in Blackboard.

 

Here is the article as highlighted by GV Forum:

Blackboard Ally supports inclusive education

More than 218,000 digital content items from more than 3,700 courses have been scanned by Blackboard Ally since the software was made available in June to students, faculty and staff members.

Blackboard Ally scans files uploaded into courses and evaluates the level of accessibility of content by displaying colored “dials” (red, yellow and green). These indicators provide awareness and insight and are only visible to instructors. The goal is to work to improve the accessibility of the files to turn the dials to green, which provides benefits for the learning needs of all students.

Eric Kunnen, associate director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies, said more accessible content means students have more usable, readable learning materials as well as high-quality alternative formats of content that work better on mobile devices.

“After Ally automatically scans course content, an indicator is displayed that estimates the level of accessibility of the file and a score is provided,” Kunnen said. “The system then provides on screen guidance to help make the file more accessible.”

So far, more than 464 files have been fixed by 138 faculty members in 146 courses.

Kunnen said Ally supports student success through universal design for learning principles and by building capacity to respond to increased federal and legal requirements for accessibility.

“Ally not only provides benefits to students with disabilities, but it also supports the university’s work in recognizing the importance of accessibility as part of our pathway to inclusive education whereby we support the diverse physical and cognitive needs of all of our students,” he said.

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team offers support to faculty members using Blackboard Ally and has created a webpage with more information, gvsu.edu/elearn/help/ally.


Learn more about how you can use Blackboard Ally to support diversity, equity, and inclusive education at Grand Valley State University…

EDUCAUSE research zeros in on Accessibility

Recently, the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research released a 2018 Students and Technology Report that zeros in on the need to improve awareness and support for accessibility issues in higher education.

Most noteworthy in this report is that students who have disabilities are often dissatisfied with their experiences at their institutions around general awareness of the importance of accessibility.

“The institutional provision of accessible web content and technologies is not then merely an issue of ethics or morality but one of legal liability.

Institutions that fail to properly accommodate the needs of their students may find themselves confronted with lawsuits, complaints, and settlements.

However, one of the major problems facing colleges and universities is that institutions may SIMPLY NOT BE AWARE of students’ needs.

EDUCAUSE 2018 Students and Technology Report on Accessibility

Blackboard Ally was adopted at GVSU to INCREASE AWARENESS of the importance of accessibility and ADA compliance, to BUILD the CAPACITY of faculty in creating accessible content, and to offer greater INSIGHT at the institutional level.

Looking more closely at the survey results, 58% of students with disabilities have responded that their institution’s awareness of their need for accessible technologies was “poor”. [See Chart Below]

Reviewing the data overall, EDUCAUSE suggests that IT accessibility is an issue for many college students with both physical and learning disabilities.

Also of note is that many students who have diagnosed disabilities do not reveal or register with the university’s disability support resources office for fear that they may be stigmatized or penalized.

To better support creating awareness and to provide better support to all students, EDUCAUSE recommends the following:

  • “Be a collaborative partner in testing and implementing assistive/accessible technologies and the principles of universal design for learning.”
    • At GVSU, the eLearning team works with the Disability Support Resources Office and supports the use of universal design for learning as well as the adoption of Blackboard Ally to encourage faculty to begin with accessibility in mind and to monitor the level of accessibility of their course content.
  • “Provide professional development to IT staff via accessibility workshops, conferences, and training; develop campus IT accessibility policies related to the development, procurement, and implementation of products…”
  • “Revise informational and course materials targeted to this population to emphasize accessibility, which focuses on inclusion and universal learning,11 to help destigmatize student learning barriers.”
  • “Offer training for faculty on implementing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines13 and other universal/inclusive instructional practices. Educate faculty on the inequitable impacts and potential legal implications that bans on in-class use of personal devices can have on students with disabilities.”
  • “And stop us if you’ve heard this one before:  STOP BANNING LAPTOPS.”

STOP BANNING LAPTOPS

“After a difficult freshman year, Lucas realizes he needs help. In high school he was diagnosed with a condition that affects his fine-motor skills, and he received therapy and accommodations that helped him succeed. When he started college, he decided not to register with the campus Office of Disability Services, but the demands of college proved challenging, and he struggled to keep up. Writing in longhand for extended periods is painful and results in illegible class notes.

Using his laptop works best for him, but half of his instructors last year didn’t allow laptops in class.

The Office of Disability Services requires proof of his condition that must be no more than three years old, so Lucas visits his doctor for an updated exam, earns money to cover the medical fees to fill out his accommodation forms (which aren’t covered by his insurance), and registers.

He receives an accommodation to use his laptop in class and notifies all his instructors before classes begin. On the first day of his Intro to Economics course, the professor reviews the course policies, which include a ban on personal tech devices in class.

As the student next to him packs her laptop away, she says,

“Didn’t you hear her? We can’t use our computers in class.”

Even though he has an accommodation, Lucas doesn’t want to talk about his disability with a stranger. He closes his laptop screen and takes out a pen and paper.”

EDUCAUSE 2018 Students and Technology Report on Accessibility


Further, since 2014, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative has surveyed the teaching and learning community to uncover the top themes and challenges facing higher education. Accessibility and universal design has been in the top 10 as a key strategic issue in higher education, and in fact, last year was ranked as #2. This area of concern continues to bubble up and with it challenges such as:  faculty buy in, funding, time for training, expertise, and dedicated staff become areas of focus.

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative 2018 Key Issues in Teaching and LearningAccessibility and UDL continue to be important key issues and the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team supports these initiatives through faculty professional development and shared resources along with collaborative services with the Disability Support Resources department.

Blackboard Ally was adopted and put into production at GVSU in the summer of 2018 to: generate awareness, build capacity, and increase institutional oversight of accessibility.

In addition, Panopto was implemented to provide video caption capability for faculty who are using instructional video content in their teaching.

Both Ally and Panopto support the principles of inclusive education through accessibility and UDL.