Ally

Blackboard Ally Tour arrives at GVSU to Raise Awareness of Inclusive Education through Accessibility

The Blackboard Ally Tour arrives at GVSU!

On Thursday, October 24 and Friday, October 25, John Scott, Product Manager on the Blackboard Inc. Ally team visited GVSU to share best practices around accessibility with faculty, staff, and students.

The goal of the visit was to provide the opportunity to engage in conversations around the importance of inclusive education through accessibility. John provided a workshop session to over 20+ attendees, covering the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), the features and capabilities of Blackboard Ally, as well as tips and techniques for improving the accessibility of files.

Here are a few photos from the Ally Tour GVSU visit:

Jeff Sykes, Assistive Technology Coordinator, John Scott, Product Manager Blackboard Ally, Eric Kunnen, Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies

Pictured left to right: Jeff Sykes, GVSU – Assistive Technology Coordinator, John Scott – Blackboard Ally Product Manager, Eric Kunnen – GVSU Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies

Learn more about this event on the eLearning “Blackboard Ally Tour comes to GVSU!” web page.


ABOUT the BLACKBOARD ALLY TOUR
Building off the “Pathways to Inclusion” case studies (read GVSU’s “Data-driven Strategies for Inclusive Learning“), Blackboard facilitated an Ally 2019 Tour: On the Road to IncluCity event at GVSU to continue accessibility conversations across campuses around the world.

A key area of focus is to share best practices for implementing Universal Design for Learning principles and driving culture change around course accessibility.

ABOUT the BLACKBOARD ALLY and UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING WORKSHOP
“Supporting Diverse Needs through Inclusive Design and Learner Preference”

Accessible content authoring is not only essential for students who use assistive technologies, but it also results in more usable, flexible content that can adapt to diverse student needs and devices. During the workshop, we’ll discuss some of the key terms and research around inclusive learning and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and the different ways Ally’s alternative formats and instructor feedback help support those learning goals. Participants will then form teams and work on a series of accessibility and UDL challenges, focused around content authoring, content remediation, multimodal literacy, and curriculum design. At the conclusion of the workshop, each participant will leave with one strategy or idea to make their learning environment more inclusive for all their learners.

ABOUT JOHN SCOTT
Product Manager, Blackboard Ally

John Scott is a Product Manager for Blackboard Ally. Prior to joining the Blackboard Ally team, John completed his PhD in Learning Sciences and New Media at the University of California Berkeley, where he designed, taught, and researched online learning courses focused on collaborative learning, multimodal literacy, and Universal Design for Learning. He spent 4 years as a literacy and arts teacher in New York City public schools, earning a Master’s Degree in Special Education, and specializing in technology-mediated literacy and learning. He has published and presented at professional research conferences on digital literacies, networked learning, and global education. He is passionate about working with instructors in adopting new technologies in the classroom through research-backed pedagogy and critical design.

Grand Valley Lanthorn article places spotlight on $1,000 Accessibility Competition

Blackboard Ally logo is picture with a gold trophy on a green background. The trophy has a white star in the middle.A recent article by Audrey Whitaker, a staff reporter for the Grand Valley Lanthorn, highlights an accessibility competition sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the eLearning and Emerging Technologies department in Information Technology at GVSU.

The eLearning team is excited about the opportunities that will be brought by this competition – to increase accessibility and students’ learning!

Image Description: “I hope it teaches everyone that if you’re willing to change just a little with the opportunities that technology brings, it can make big differences for lots of students” - GVSU Dean Antczak


Here are a few recent stats from Blackboard Ally at GVSU.

Fall 2019 Semester (as of October 7):

  • 3,649 Blackboard courses include content
  • 193,051 content items have been analyzed by Blackboard Ally
  • 64% is the current overall accessibility “With Ally” score, indicating improvements made through Ally’s alternative formats and instructor intervention, this is a 2% increase since Fall 2018
  • The top 3 institutional accessibility concerns include: Contrast (31,887), Missing Headers (29,944), Alternative Descriptions (26,554)
  • The most severe accessibility concern is Non-OCRed Documents (11,468)
  • There are 319 files (436 F18) that have been fixed in August/September by faculty
  • There have been 11,564 total alternative file downloads (9,093 F18) from 1,883 courses (1,450 F18)
  • The most popular alternative format is PDF, followed by HTML, OCRed PDF, ePub, Audio

Overall, since August 1, 2018 (to date), 945 files have been fixed in 305 courses. In addition, there have been 24,000+ alternative file format downloads from over 4,000 courses.


Access tips, tutorials, and information for effectively using Blackboard and creating accessible content with Ally at Grand Valley State University.

Sign up for 5 Seminars on Accessibility in Support of Inclusive Education at GVSU

In support of inclusive education at GVSU, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team has coordinated a series of accessibility and universal design for learning seminars and workshops specifically designed to support faculty this Fall!

Sign up in sprout to save your seat!

Accessibility and Ally:  How to the Turn the Dial to Green

dials.pngLearn how to create accessible Word documents and PowerPoint slides that get the green dial! Blackboard Ally helps you determine the accessibility of your content. Ally provides guidance and tips for improvements to your content accessibility.  At the end of this hands-on workshop, you will be able to:

  • interpret Ally’s feedback and understand the feedback on the accessibility of your content
  • be empowered with accessibility tips for course content
  • learn how to find instructional media guides for many different types of formats

A sample accessible syllabus will be provided and discussed.

We hope you can stay after the workshop to get started on making your own syllabus or class documents accessible.

WHEN

Register for Seminars and Ally Tour Workshops in Sprout


Blackboard Ally & Universal Design for Learning Faculty Workshop
Supporting Diverse Needs through Inclusive Design and Learner Preference

allylogo.jpgAccessible content authoring is not only essential for students who use assistive technologies, but it also results in more usable, flexible content that can adapt to diverse student needs and devices. During the workshop, we’ll discuss some of the key terms and research around inclusive learning and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and the different ways Ally’s alternative formats and instructor feedback help support those learning goals. Participants will then form teams and work on a series of accessibility and UDL challenges, focused around content authoring, content remediation, multimodal literacy, and curriculum design. At the conclusion of the workshop, each participant will leave with one strategy or idea to make their learning environment more inclusive for all their learners.

WHEN

Register for Seminars and Ally Tour Workshops in Sprout


SEE ALSO

Learn more Blackboard Ally Tour and the $1,000 Student Scholarship Accessibility Competition!

$1,000 Student Scholarship to be given for Blackboard Ally Competition

Blackboard Ally CLAS Competition2.png

Image Description: The Blackboard Ally logo is showing with an image of a gold trophy and the words “College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Accessibility Competition” 

INTRODUCING THE $1,000 STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP COMPETITION!

WHAT

Sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and eLearning and Emerging Technologies in Information Technology, CLAS units and faculty will use Blackboard Ally to compete to create the most accessible course content in courses to support student success, inclusive education, and universal design for learning principles.

The unit with the highest percent improvement will receive a one-time $1,000 student scholarship in their name.

WHEN

September 25 through November 6, 2019

HOW

By using Blackboard Ally content indicators, course reports, and on screen guidance, faculty work with support from eLearning and Emerging Technologies to improve the accessibility of their course content – working to get Ally indicators to green!

LEARN MORE

Check out the current leaderboard standings and visit the Blackboard Ally – College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Accessibility Competition web page to learn more!

Blackboard Ally Tour arrives at GVSU!

allytourbanner.jpg

The Blackboard 2019 Ally Tour is coming to GVSU – Sign up to attend a workshop on supporting diverse needs through inclusive design and learner preference!

Building off the “Pathways to Inclusion” case studies (see also GVSU’s “Data-driven Strategies for Inclusive Learning“), Blackboard is facilitating an Ally 2019 Tour: On the Road to IncluCity event at GVSU to continue accessibility conversations across campuses around the world.

The last stop of 2019 is right here at Grand Valley State University!

SAVE-THE-DATE & REGISTER IN SPROUT


WHEN

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24

TIME EVENT LOCATION
10:00am – 12:00pm Blackboard Ally & Universal Design for Learning Faculty Workshop

Supporting Diverse Needs through Inclusive Design and Learner Preference

DOWNTOWN – 203E DEV

REGISTER IN SPROUT

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25

TIME EVENT LOCATION
9:00am – 11:00am Blackboard Ally & Universal Design for Learning Faculty Workshop

Supporting Diverse Needs through Inclusive Design and Learner Preference

ALLENDALE – 002 LIB

REGISTER IN SPROUT

WHY

A key area of focus is to share best practices for implementing Universal Design for Learning principles and driving culture change around course accessibility.

WHAT

The Blackboard Ally group and the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at GVSU has coordinated a series of events, including an accessibility faculty workshop, designed to equip faculty with the basics of using Blackboard Ally and to focus on supporting diverse student needs through inclusive design and learner preference aka UDL (Universal Design for Learning)!


Learn more about the Blackboard Ally Tour at GVSU.

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”

GVSU_AllyArticle_F2018.jpg

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…