Fostering Accessible Study Technologies:
Accessible Learning Management System
in Humanities and Social Sciences
Higher education is facing many challenges in global terms, as it is being reshaped by the digital evolution. Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are software applications for administration, documentation, reporting and delivery of educational courses or training programs. LMSs focus on online learning delivery, but support a range of uses such as delivery of materials to students, administration of tests and other assignments, track of student progress, management and record-keeping etc.
Providing an accessible e-learning system for students with disabilities will encourage them to continue their education and will allow them to acquire more skills and competencies. This leads toward more employment opportunities, an active social inclusion and a remarkable improvement of quality of life.
In that context, the main objective of the project is to create a generic model of an accessible LMS for usage in Humanities and Social sciences. Other objectives include:
– Creation of a methodological framework for accessible LMSs and selection of appropriate LMS for HEI usage in the area of humanities and social sciences;
– Construction and implementation of accessible software for managing complex databases for students with disability;
– Creation of a mobile application for easy LMS access, and
– Creation and on-line delivery of a training e-module for LMS usage by students with disabilities.
Academic, management and administrative staff from the project countries (five persons from each HEI, two participants from the European Training Centre and two participants from the associate partner institution – the Ministry of Education and Science) will be included in the project activities, dissemination activities and will contribute to the sustainability of this innovative platform. Students with Special needs, such as impaired vision, impaired hearing, specific learning difficulties (dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia) and physical disabilities from all participating universities will be included. Eight persons with special needs will participate and be fully engaged in the short-term training activities and the multiplier events.
The project activities embody:
– Three transnational meetings (introductory kick-off meeting; meeting for evaluation of project activities, budget and management control and meeting for final conclusions and further sustainability of the project results);
– Two short-term joint staff training events (the first, for obtaining skills for LMS construction and implementation, and the second, for attaining skills and knowledge for creation and implementation of joint e-modules) and
– Three multiplier events for result dissemination and sustainability (in each HEI respectively).
The FAST project methodology consists of four stages:
1. Conception and initiation (analysis and synthesis as methods of acquiring knowledge about the initial status of the institution);
2. Execution (installation, addition of special features, development of a mobile app, test courses – use of the platform for selected elective courses, transfer of knowledge and acquiring generalised skills by the academic staff and the students; incorporation of LMS in at least one teaching course);
3. Performance and monitoring (increased implementation of LMS, continued performance and current monitoring of the work and summation of results);
4. Sustainable continuation.
This project will result in obtaining a contemporary, functional e-learning and distance learning system that conforms to the highest educational standards; a system that will improve accessibility and teacher-student communication, and facilitate the providing of services to all students, including students with disabilities, making them more competitive in the labour market and paving the way for a complete social and educational inclusion.
In the long term, this learning system will provide open access to all lecturers, lectures and teaching materials, places to exchange ideas with other students and enjoy good educational practices. As several parts of the system – e.g., the open lectures, the podcasts and the video materials – will be completely open to the public, secondary schools and pupils become indirect beneficiaries. The Ministry for Education and Science as an associate partner, as well the Ministry for Labor and Social policies, the Government and the business sector will also reap benefits, as the system will offer modern, open and accessible public education for everyone.
In addition, the expected impact is related to a more positive attitude towards European projects and EU values, better understanding and recognition of skills and qualifications in Europe and beyond, as well as better understanding of interconnections between formal, non-formal education, vocational training, other forms of learning and the labour market, respectively.