Presentation on theme: "Accessible structures: towards a more inclusive use of Virtual Learning environments Wilma Alexander, Information Services."— Presentation transcript:
Accessible structures: towards a more inclusive use of Virtual Learning environments Wilma Alexander, Information Services
The Background Online opportunities to level the playing field - usability and accessibility Studies have improved our understanding, but studies specific to teaching and learning still rare User purpose and motivation crucial, so commercial and web-based studies should be approached with care. Lots of work done on technical access, use of VLE, but little or nothing on organising content inside a VLE.
Phase 1 - Vista 4 extended walkthrough interviews provided 79 distinct statements which were categorised: 15 Likes and 61 Dislikes Categorisation: navigation, display, content availability, other, or outwith scope. Some statements where placed in more than one category where appropriate. Dislikes further categorised as severity of impact on the student (Low, Medium, High) Where possible mitigation measures identified.
Dislikes Totals > 100% as some items in multiple categories
Some surprises All students interviewed ignored the left hand navigation links: didn't know what they were, some tools were unused but the links were still there. "... left hand navigation not really used. I don’t know what they all are so ignore them..."
Spell it out Even our "obvious” labelling may not be so obvious: "The 'Course materials’ label means lecture slides but sometimes also means tutorial handouts."
Of course its obvious! …hadn’t noticed breadcrumb trail items at top of most screens, had no idea about using Home link or MyWebCT tab to navigate around course / courses. So user as logging out and re- entering every time they got “stuck” with a window and couldn’t find a way back to another part of the course…
Confusions Relationship between menu items and content links on page Nested folders Breadcrumb trails unnoticed Links sometimes open new window, sometimes don't Links do open new window but window is unnoticed
More confusions Week by week vs. Themes All course readings vs this weeks readings Content vs. activities Scrolling vs clicking Tabs vs windows
Phase 2 Designed course with real content Simple clear structure Two options for content structure 5 students, structured walkthrough Observer, recording, coded responses.
Phase 2 so far (1) Navigation issues Menu, Tabs unnoticed Breadcrumbs unnoticed When is a link not a link? Don’t mind scrolling, dislike too much “nesting” Users don’t customise or personalise Solution a: Information and guidance to staff. Solution b: Additional information / support for students.
Phase 2 so far (2) Content Organisation issues Don’t know what to find where Solution: Clearer labelling for folders, items Clearer labelling for Left hand menu Don’t mind scrolling, dislike too much “nesting” Solution: Organise content systematically Want things to be organised similarly across courses Solution: School templates, staff guidelines Want
Phase 2 so far (3) Technical issues (outside project scope) Learning Modules and migrations Solution: move to folders PDF files and some OS/browser combinations Solution: Always set to open in new window Identifying Links as links Solution a: Change institutional default template Solution b: Guidelines for staff
Phase 2 so far (4) Other issues Reading and resources lists Must be sorted, flagged as essential versus optional Alternative format information and strategies in place Growing range of assistive software, mobile devices etc: need for more inclusive design from the start.
Thanks to colleagues: Jessie Paterson, Teaching Fellow, RDSVM (School of Divinity) Bruce Darby, Student Disability Services With assistance from the Blackboard Accessibility Awards 2011
Thank-you! Some useful links: JISC TechDis www.techdis.ac.uk/ WebAIM webaim.org Bb Accessibility Group collaborate.athenpro.org/group/bb/ Wilma.Alexander@ed.ac.uk