W2 Activity Three: UDL Reflections

 Elements of King-Sears & Edyburn UDL readings as they speak to online learning materials I have used, the environment in which I find myself using them and how they address my desired online teaching environment (blended or distance).

The online materials I have used in my work environment.

The online materials I have experience with for my own learning are Blackboard, Moodle, Dropboxes and WordPress. For my role as a communicator/marketer, I am manage the re-design, content generation for selkirk.ca, Selkirk social media  and my.selkirk.ca using WordPress, Drupal, T4 content management systems, along with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

My experiences in web design projects and ongoing communications have me a support of Edyburn’s Prop #1: That UD in education is fundamentally different from UD in the built environment. I see more consistency with Web Content Accessiblity Guidelines (WCAG) that are developed with organizations around the world with the goal of a ingle shared standard of web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations and governments internationally.

In designing the college websites, with the goal of engagement and effective communication in mind, the following principles from Sears-King impacted our design and content generation approach and pedagogy.

  • Flexibility to accommodate a wide range of student preferences and abilities and Proposition 6 (Provide an array of supports in a digital environment that students come to expect.) The design of Selkirk.ca was ‘responsive’ to ensure the content could be displayed on iphone, ipad and typical computer screens as today’s student’s are using their phones more and more. This is part of the WCAG2.0 Design Standards, in particular the Adaptability Standard (Create content that can be presented in simpler layout without losing information or structure.)  Further, to reach the target markets, the research shows that they are all checking social media (facebook, twitter) to learn more about colleges etc, so we have added this medium to our print, email, web, display communications etc to ensure we can reach them.
  • Equitable use of technology to help those with LD & perceptible information by combining visual with written content.    We designed our site to meet accessibility standards as best as possible. These can be found at http://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/quickref/ and are quite similar (1.1 Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so it can be changed into other forms like large print, braille, symbols; but could easily be improved. 2.2 Provide enough time for users to read & use content etc)
  • Simple & intuitive use to present content in a straightforward manner considerate of students’ background, knowledge etc. In designing our primary navigation and site map, we worked to ensure it was navigable by providing a primary menu based on our organization across the top and a secondary audience-based menu (future students, aboriginal students, international students, parents etc) across the left of our home page. Our footer also had many quick links. All three systems help our users to navigate, find content and determine where they are.

Key factor for my desired online teaching environment…

Proposition 10, that UDL is much more complicated that people think, is a principle I believe important.

Unfortunately, in designing our websites in the past, we only gave ‘lip-service’ to designing for user personas, where you lump groups of users into similar needs/wants/styles etc and create content specifically for these groups needs. We started off with this but have let this drop as we continue forward in the busy day to day.

Wherever possible, I would like to be involved in creating curriculum and learning experiences towards each learner’s learning style preferences (aural/verbal, visual/physical, logical, social/solitary). An example of the Learning Style Test, for streamlining a learner experience, can be found at North Carolina University Index of Learning Style Test.

I believe we should tailor our content/curriculum to provide the preferred options to each type of learner.


W2 Activity 1: Technology Hardware Found In Classrooms

Took a look at the Tech Pictures and feel confident that I find ‘most’ of these things in my workplace.

What we have…

  • Iphones, Airbooks, Blackberries, Cell phones and Laptops (which like to sleep, when not touched every 30 seconds during a presentation) 
  • Speakers
  • Scanners
  • Screens & projectors (also mounted in ways meant to continually challenge, lol) and cameras.)
  • Flatscreens (meant to work for skype-type calls, but have shown to have connection challenges when video is on).
  • JAWS (32-Bit)…a computer screen reader program that allows our visually impaired staff to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or by a Refreshable Braille display.

What we don’t have…

  • Math Manipulatives
  • Kindle (though will see students and staff with them personally)
  • Slipper (Portable CCTV)

What I am not really sure about…

  • Other assistive technology gadgets

Unfortunately, I am on a vacation away from the college so I have not been able to take the photos of the technology I have available, so making a gallery or slideshow will have to wait until further into my homework. Looking forward to it.