Staff e-training programme: development of e-courses

The aim of this online training is to provide information about e-learning tools and techniques needed to create high-quality, engaging e-learning content for virtual synchronous training, flipped classrooms and blended learning.

The experts of e-learning will share their knowledge in online seminars. The groups of training participants will also get individual tasks for asynchronous activities every day.

The training, organized by Vilnius University, will be held online, November 23-27, 2020. You can download the program here.

It’s finally here!

On September 28th, 2020, on the premises of the Faculty of Philosophy, there was a promotion of the first e-platform in our country accessible for students with disabilities. The FAST (2018-2021) project: An accessible Learning management system in Humanities and Social Sciences, which is an Erasmus+KA203 project led to the creation of such a system, which today is accessible for three groups of students with disabilities: students with impaired vision, students with impaired hearing and students with specific reading disabilities – dyslexia. Continue reading

Second Transnational Meeting Cancelled

av1The second transnational meeting for the FAST (Fostering Accessible Study Technologies: Accessible Learning Management System in Humanities and Social Sciences) project was officially to be held on April 16th and 17th in Aveiro, Portugal.

As the project is nearing the end of IO2 and we are getting closer to the testing phase and actual implementation of the accessible LMS, the second transnational meeting would have focused on possible challenges concerning the functionality of the LMS. This phase is of crucial importance for the sustainability of the accessible LMS for the humanities and social sciences. We were also intending to evaluate the first 18 months of the project and discuss budget and management control.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 situation, we would like to inform you that this meeting has been postponed indefinitely.

The New Accessibility: Students With Disabilities and Access to Technology

The_New_Accessbility“The New Accessibility: Students With Disabilities and Access to Technology” is Inside Higher Ed’s latest compilation of incisive and practical articles.

You may download a copy of the print-on-demand booklet here, free.

Inside Higher Ed’s editors will conduct a free webcast on the themes of the booklet on Thursday, April 23, at 2 p.m. Eastern. They invite you to sign up here.

 

“Ten Steps Toward Universal Design of Online Courses”, by UA Little Rock

online1Implementing the principles of universal design in online learning means anticipating the diversity of students that may enroll in your course and planning accordingly. Designing a course with principles of universal design in mind is an ongoing and creative process. One does not achieve the level of usability aspired to with a simple checklist, but with an open mind and a commitment to making design and inclusion a priority.

There are a few elements, though, that if taken into consideration, can enhance access and usability greatly. Knowing and incorporating these elements on the front end of the design process can save hours down the line.

Read the comprehensive guide at UA Little Rock’s website.

The Digital Courseware Accessibility Problem

5176“Educational publishers such as Cengage, McGraw-Hill and Pearson are investing heavily in digital courseware — interactive, personalized course content that aims to improve the learning experience.

Videos, simulations, quizzes and built-in homework assignments make these products an attractive option for faculty and students alike. But not every student’s learning experience is enhanced by them. College accessibility staff say that digital courseware is frequently inaccessible to students with disabilities, particularly blind students who use screen readers.”

Read Lindsay McKenzie’s piece at Inside Higher Ed.

Learning Moodle 3.8

asd5Moodle, the popular learning management system (LMS), has revolutionized education. Instructors can create online classes for anywhere, anytime learning; add assessments and activities; track student progress; calculate grades; and more. Students can access resources, complete assignments, and communicate with classmates and instructors—all from a single digital platform. This course demonstrates how instructors can get started using Moodle 3.8, including newer features such as forum enhancements.

LinkedIn Learning staff author Oliver Schinkten shows how to set up an instructor profile, create a course, and adjust course settings. Then find out how to add files, post announcements, and make quizzes. Finally, learn how to enroll students, grade assignments, and run reports.

Topics include:

  • Customizing Moodle
  • Creating a course
  • Adjusting course settings
  • Posting announcements
  • Adding resources and activities
  • Adding assignments
  • Creating a quiz
  • Enrolling students in a course
  • Setting up a gradebook
  • Viewing gradebook reports

Check out Oliver’s lecture at Lynda.com!

Learning to Teach Online

asd4Technology has changed the nature of education—and the jobs of educators. Online instruction requires different methods to help students learn. This course is designed to help corporate trainers and teachers update their skill sets to teach effectively online.

LinkedIn staff author Oliver Schinkten draws the connections between high-quality instruction and online education. He provides a framework for creating a digital classroom and guidance to get students interacting with the course material, the instructor, and each other. Collaboration is the key to making the learning experience more dynamic. Plus, Oliver shows how to make sure your lessons are accessible to students of all ability levels.

Topics include:

  • Benefits of online education
  • Incorporating technology in the classroom
  • Setting guidelines and expectations about online courses
  • Writing learning outcomes
  • Sharing and curating files and resources
  • Tracking student progress
  • Engaging students
  • Fostering communication
  • Providing feedback
  • Making learning accessible to students with disabilities

Check out Oliver’s lecture at  Lynda.com!

LMS best practices: accessibility in learning management systems

longAccessibility is no longer just a “nice to have”, but is best practice for learning management systems – and in some cases, even required for compliance. Accessibility has gone beyond the physical classroom or workplace. Thanks to greater education, awareness, and legal requirements, it’s become increasingly important for schools, universities, and organizations to improve accessibility to their websites, apps, and LMS platforms.

But what does accessibility mean? And how accessible is your learning management system?

Read Ben Long’s piece at Blueprint.

“How do I make a course accessible?” A Guide by Northwestern SPS

EV-arch“Accessibility is a key component of every piece of a course. All students, regardless of background or ability, should have equal access to education. Accessibility differs from accommodation in that accessibility is pro-active, while accommodations are reactive. Sometimes, accommodations are the best option; but many things can be made accessible in advance, making coursework smoother and easier for all students. These guides cover a wide variety of topics, from the importance of web accessibility to specific, technical steps that can be taken to improve the quality of your text, images, and media. Accessible design is good design for all students.”

How do You make a course accessible? Check out this in-depth guide by Northwestern University School of Professional Studies.

Mike Kent: “Disability and eLearning: Opportunities and Barriers”

asd6“This paper explores the current rising rates of online learning in higher education. It examines how disability is activated differently online and the impact of this on learning and teaching through the internet and the accessibility of two of the most popular learning management systems, Blackboard and Moodle, and the different approaches, benefits and problems associated with each system. It then explores the eLearning environment beyond the structure of a LMS to a broader digital campus that includes social networks, video hosting sites and micro blogging, where students and staff are increasingly expanding the learning and social environment in higher education. It also questions the legal and moral responsibilities of universities to make all their online activities accessible to all students, regardless of disability.”

Check out Mike’s article at the Disability Studies Quarterly.

Mike Kent is a Professor in the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. His university profile can be found here.

June 25, 2019: Final session

1. Video about Moodle focused on three concepts: the Why, the What and the How.

  • LMS – eight categories: Medical, healthy brain, learning etc.
  • Five main benefits:
    – Can access material at any time they want to
    – Physical disability: It provides a comfort zone that is easily accessible and voice to text.
    – Visual impairment: Adaptive tools
    – Hearing impairment: It makes life easier, because they can get lectures with subtitles
    – Psychiatric disabilities: Comfort zone – two main factors that is flexibility and convenience. This platform is far better than commuting, also adults prefer tech.

Continue reading

June 24, 2019: Workshop update

E-learning and Moodle are no problem to be implemented in Denmark, but it is the practical implementation of the general courses that presents the problem. Additionally, our partners face a challenge: General structure of Moodle with content by teachers being too dull, so we must find a way to make it interesting and engaging. Continue reading

Learning Moodle 3.6

asd3Moodle, the popular learning management system (LMS), has revolutionized education. Instructors can create online classes for anywhere, anytime learning; add assessments and activities; track student progress; calculate grades; and more. Students can access resources, complete assignments, and communicate with classmates and instructors—all from a single digital platform. This course demonstrates how instructors can get started using Moodle 3.6, including new features such as messaging with audio and images.

LinkedIn Learning staff author Oliver Schinkten shows how to set up an instructor profile, create a course, and adjust course settings. Then find out how to add files, post announcements, and make quizzes. Finally, learn how to enroll students, grade assignments, and run reports. Along the way, Oliver includes tips to make your Moodle experience even more efficient and effective.

Topics include:
– Name the theme that was recently introduced in Moodle 3.3.
– Recognize the symbol that indicates Moodle inline help.
– Identify the block used to keep track of a course schedule.
– Apply the Pencil tool to change the number of points that a quiz question is worth.
– Define a “single simple discussion.”
– Determine the default minimum score required to receive an A.
– Recall the Moodle backup format that is compatible with other learning management systems.

Check out Oliver’s lecture at Lynda.com!

Foundations of Learning Management Systems (LMS)

asd2Learning management systems are transforming the way companies train their workers and the way teachers educate their students. Administrators can assign and grade work online. Users can access content and resources anytime, inside or outside the classroom or office. A learning management system (LMS) can also improve communication, help you track progress, and reduce costs. If you’re considering an LMS for your company or school, this is the course for you.

LinkedIn Learning instructor Oliver Schinkten explains what an LMS is, what the leading platforms are, and how to choose an LMS system based on learning needs—understanding there are very different use cases for corporate and academic learners. He also covers the basics of administering and configuring an LMS, so you can make an informed decision about your corporate training or academic needs.

Topics include:
– What is an LMS?
– LMS benefits
– Corporate vs. academic systems
– Choosing an LMS
– Adding learners
– Creating courses
– Curating content
– Accountability and communication

Check out Oliver’s lecture at Lynda.com!

Teaching Techniques: Making Accessible Learning

asd1Do all students have equal access to the learning resources and opportunities in your classroom? Learn to provide accommodations to make learning accessible to students with disabilities and meet the compliance for digital learning.

In this course, Oliver Schinkten explores how to modify your classroom and online instruction to accommodate students with special needs. Find out about the different types of disabilities and challenges students may face, and learn how to use assistive technologies such as screen readers and closed captioning, incorporate visual and auditory cues into teaching, and encourage students to seek the learning supports that will help them succeed.

Topics include:
– What is accessible learning?
– Accommodating different needs, from vision impairments to lack of digital access
– Adapting presentations, responses, and timing
– Using an LMS to make learning more accessible
– Adding alt text to images
– Adding closed captioning to videos

Check out Oliver’s lecture at Lynda.com!

A Rubric for Evaluating E-Learning Tools in Higher Education

[W]e firmly believe that instructors should be the ultimate decision-makers in selecting the tools that will work for their courses and their learners. Thus, we saw an opportunity to develop a framework that would assist with the predictive evaluation of e-learning tools—a framework that could be used by non-tech experts and applied in a variety of learning contexts to help draw their attention to the cogent aspects of evaluating any e-learning tool. To address this need, we created the Rubric for E-Learning Tool Evaluation.

At our institution, Western University, the Rubric for E-Learning Tool Evaluation is currently being utilized in two ways. First, educational developers are using the rubric to review the tools and technologies profiled on the eLearning Toolkit, a university online resource intended to help instructors discover and meaningfully integrate technologies into their teaching. Second, we have shared our rubric with instructors and staff so that they can independently review tools of interest to them. These uses of the framework are key to our intended purpose for the rubric: to serve as a guide for instructors and staff in their assessment and selection of e-learning tools through a multidimensional evaluation of functional, technical, and pedagogical aspects.

Read the report by Lauren Anstey and Gavan Watson in full at Educause Review.

Unfair at Any Speed

Faster students are smarter students. So declared Edward Thorndike of Columbia University’s Teachers College a century ago.

You would think we are more enlightened today. Unless you looked at Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood, Ariz., where students are required to wear a red badge that “publicly identifies and shames underperforming students.” (The policy has since been dropped.)

It is patently true that “Society rewards rapid thinkers!” as my high school humanities teacher, Mr. Sabo, said many times, usually as I searched my suddenly blank mind for an answer. But faster is not always right, and it is rarely an equitable measure of performance — or potential. Like racism and sexism, speedism (the belief that faster is better) is a contemptuous conceit that eviscerates our colleges and the souls of our most needy students.

Read Myk Garn‘s piece in full at Inside Higher Ed.

Online Learning 2.0

A wise humanities faculty member once said to me, “Please no more talk about academic innovation. Instead, let’s talk about good maintenance and upkeep.”

I think the next iteration of online and hybrid education should follow such an approach. It’s time to move away from the debate about whether it’s worse or better than x or y or it is/was/will be an over-hyped failure or a massive sea change. It’s here. It’s staying. Let’s make the most of it.

Thus far, online learning has largely appealed to innovators and early adopters who enjoy experimentation and view these classes as an act of love. As a result, many online courses are at least equivalent and often superior to face-to-face classes. However, there is the danger that as online learning becomes more pervasive, average quality will decline, mimicking the unevenness we see in face-to-face classrooms.

We can do better, and should.

Online learning offers an opportunity to reinvent our classes more intentionally, incorporating what we have learned from the learning sciences. We can make learning outcomes more explicit, design activities aligned with our learning goals, and create assessments that truly measure student achievement.

Higher education is undergoing a paradigm shift. Let’s seize this chance to bring our courses to a higher level.

Read Steven Mintz‘s piece in full at Inside Higher Ed.

Helping Institutions Reach Accessibility Goals

Champions of accessibility awareness have made strides in highlighting that all students, not just those with disabilities, benefit from multiple, flexible options for learning materials. A recent uptick in high-profile lawsuits alleging failure to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act has motivated many institutions to think carefully about how they work with students.

But many colleges and universities still lack coherent policies around accessibility, and those that have them sometimes struggle to enforce or define them across the entire university.

A new set of quality indicators for accessible educational materials aims to help institutions ensure at scale that all students have the same learning opportunities in face-to-face classrooms and digital learning environments. The guide took 16 months to complete, and time will tell whether institutions will widely adopt it, underscoring the challenge of gathering consensus on an issue that’s only recent risen on institutions’ priority lists.

Read Mark Lieberman’s piece in full at Inside Higher Ed.

Darrell Gunter: Accessibility Is The New Innovation

“Imagine you are in your first year of college sitting in your Introduction to Psychology course and the instructor directs the students to a document that is on their computers. When visually impaired, you are not able to read the document. You are immediately put at a distinct disadvantage versus your peers, moreover your education is being diminished, due to your accessibility to the material being limited.

For students with hearing issues, similar challenges are faced, as their ability to hear the lecture is impaired. They are not able to fully participate and contribute to the class discussion due to their hearing disability.

Consider the student taking an online course. They are not able to read and hear the instructor’s lectures, the course materials and the questions from their classmates. In today’s digital world this is a reality for the students and the parents of these students. Students are not the only people that are affected by these digital limitations. There is a growing population of adults with disabilities that are part of the professional workforce and their performance is greatly affected by the mere fact that they are not provided equal access to information due to their disability. How much productivity is lost at thousands of companies due to team members with visual and hearing disabilities that don’t have equal access to information to perform their duties?”

Read Darrell Gunter’s (slightly older) piece at The Scholarly Kitchen. Great comment section, too.

IT Experts Focus Group

Today, the Macedonian team conducted the Focus Group with IT experts.

Eight professionals with various expertise and experiences shared their opinions regarding the creation of Learning Management Systems (LMS) in Higher Education. One of the largest challenges was to choose an adequate LMS which can be constructed and introduced in higher educational institutions in the area of humanities and social sciences. Continue reading

Preparing for Intellectual Output 1

The first intellectual output within the FAST project (December, 2018 – April, 2019) will result in the creation of a methodological framework for an accessible Learning Management System in Humanities and Social Sciences.

In order to generate such a framework, we needed to design the desk-top and field research. The research phase started in December – with the very start of the project – by defining the research instruments for the field and desk-top research. In order to have a triangulation of data sources we decided to conduct a combined research by using qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Continue reading

Roadblocks to Accessibility

“Perhaps most of us assume that the population of our readers with physical, learning, or cognitive challenges is too small to make a difference. Fake news! Measuring those with sight impairments alone, the National Institutes of Health report 285 million people are blind or have low vision worldwide. Research shows that US colleges have 10-20% disabled student enrollment. Beyond the ivory towers, the overall rates of disabled persons in the US is on the rise – students today could be life-long customers if we’re able to effectively reach them.”

Read Lettie Y. Conrad’s piece in full at The Scholarly Kitchen.

Trial and Error: Striving for the Perfect LMS

The first step – to the surprise of no one familiar with how higher ed works – was to consult faculty members, who interact with the LMS on a daily basis. This Giering launched a series of focus groups, for which she expected a handful of attendees. “A ton of faculty” – far more than she expected – showed up each time, she said, demonstrating the widespread enthusiasm for taking a fresh look at the LMS.

Next, Giering hired a tech team from the local company Journey Group: a project manager, a user interface designer, a content expert and an application developer. She also brought in a Sakai developer to help transfer the institution’s newly developed code to other institutions using the Sakai platform.

They’ve spent the last six months updating the user interface and creating a “wizard” tool that surveys instructors upon creation of a new course with questions like “How do you want your students to participate in the course?” and “How do you want to evaluate your students?” The answers to those questions inform a customized version of the LMS tailored to the specific needs of the course.

Read Mark Lieberman’s piece in full at Inside Higher Ed.

Both innovative and complementary

While building on and trying to improve the (mostly) negative experiences concerning LMS usage, accessibility and interoperability in Macedonian Higher Education, we aim to establish operational compatibility with several fresh developments and initiatives at the Faculty of Philosophy and at the University in general: the Institutional Repository, the e-Library and the Digital Library of the Faculty, initiatives whose completion and application is expected within the upcoming year. The project aims to complement these initiatives by providing compatible and inter-operable accessibility LMS software modules aimed at disadvantaged learners as well; in combination, this project will provide a solid basis for a complete e-platform Faculty-wide studying solution for all students. Continue reading

Choosing the participants

All participants in different project activities will be selected by a public call, in a transparent manner, in relation to their competencies, project and research experiences and capability to implement this innovative idea into practice.

The legal representative and the project coordinator in each country-participant will appoint project team members, which will be included in all project activities. The number of the team representatives will be proportional to the total number of employees of each institution involved in the project, so that a successful dissemination can be conducted. These researchers will be engaged in IO 1-4, the short-term joint training events and will coordinate and participate in the multiplier events and transnational meetings. Continue reading

What we intend to achieve (2)

The needs assessment indicates that Universities that currently do not use eLearning platforms (such as the Faculty of Philosophy at the University Ss. Cyril and Methodius) can benefit from these user-friendly systems, which enable use of personalized high-education tools. A system of this kind will improve the digital skills of students and teachers aligned with the needs and challenges of the new century. In addition, universities that already use some kind of a LMS (such as the Universities from the partner countries) can benefit from the tools tailored for the students with disabilities.

Two groups will directly benefit from this project: Students in HEI’s participating in this project (including students with disabilities) and HEI’s teaching, management and administration staff. The indirect beneficiaries – through the multiplier events – are students, teaching, management and administration staff from other HEIs in the host and partner countries, as well as primary and secondary schools (including special schools), who may see benefit from the developed accessible LMS and the training module for LMS usage developed with this project. Continue reading

What we intend to achieve (1)

Higher education is facing many challenges, as it is being constantly reshaped by the digital evolution. In order to provide open education, we have to follow the rapid scientific and technological development and create different types of learning management systems accessible for everyone.

Illustration by Lourdes Margain

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application for administration, documentation, reporting and delivery of educational courses or training programs. They help the HEI staff deliver course material to the students, administer tests and other assignments, track student progress, and manage record-keeping. LMSs are focused on on-line learning delivery but support a range of uses, acting as a platform for fully-fledged on-line courses, as well as for several hybrid forms, such as blended learning and flipped classrooms. An LMS provides interactive features such as threaded discussions, video conferencing, and discussion forums. One of the characteristics of the LMS is the possibility to access content via mobile phones and tablets, and therefore to also receive real-time notifications for different aspects of the teaching process. Continue reading