Preparing digital content for a diverse learner group

Preparing digital content for a diverse learner group

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Okay good morning, I'm Roisin from the Department  of Technology Enhanced Learning. Many thanks for   coming along this morning. The recording of  this session will be available after and you   can access this on our YouTube channel  as well along with other training and   resources there. I'll follow up with an email  with all the details and for those who were   in the session on Monday I'll be sending  out that information this morning as well.

What we're looking at today is creating  teaching and learning content for a   diverse learner group so we're looking at  creating accessible content and providing   an inclusive learning environment for our  students regardless of their abilities,   their backgrounds, their primary language,  any short-term injury or illnesses,   any caring responsibilities, their  location, the list goes on and on. So why do we need inclusive teaching and  learning content? Digital accessibility   is a legal requirement in Ireland, this  legislation is based on the Web Content   Accessibility Guidelines so specifically WCAG 2.1  AA which is the standard for accessible digital   content. So these guidelines were developed  by the Worldwide Web Consortium, the W3C,   which develops International standards  for design and development on the web.  

Now we're a little bit behind the UK on  our digital accessibility here but there   are ways that we can make a big impact in  the short term as well for our students. So I'm going through a few different  items in this session - I'm going to   give some tips and ideas on how to make  files and documents more accessible,   on how to make the online environment, using  Canvas and Zoom as examples, a bit more inclusive.   There's lots of ways that this can be done,  these are just some, and I'll provide some   resources at the end as well and we'll make  these available after with the recording link. So the first thing we're  going to look at is documents.   Many of these use the example of Microsoft  Word in this particular session but it's   applicable in most of the document editors  or word processors which tend to have much   of the same options available. So you'll also  see as we go through this that these elements  

we discuss here are also applicable when  creating content directly in Canvas as well,   s we'll be looking at that a little bit  later on and I can I can mention it then. So the first thing I guess is to look at the  basics and to try to be mindful of the common   accessibility issues so these are the issues  that are listed in the WCAG 2.1 standards. So the first one we're looking at is document  structure, the idea here is using heading styles   to structure your document. This also relates  to the formatting tools generally within your   word processor or content editor so make use  of these formatting options like lists as well.   It all helps to ensure that the document is  readable by screen readers but also improves   the chance of it translating well to another file  format or if opening the document in another tool   like moving from Microsoft Word to Google  Docs or saving as a PDF, things like that.   So correct use of headings is is one of the  the main things and not skipping heading   levels so for example moving from heading  2 directly to heading 4 for instance.  

It can also help when students are scanning  documents that they're able to find the   information they need just like the way  a table of contents would work as well.   So you can do a quick check of your document  structure using the navigation pane in Word,   it's a small check box that you can click  on there in the view area and that brings up   this document structure over here on the left  and it really helps to see if the document   that you've created has a logical structure  and students will be able to click into any   of those links to get quick access to any  of the points there within the document. Colour is another important consideration so  there's a couple of things that you'll need   to to consider here if you want to use say  coloured font or for example if you're using   text on top of a background color there's lots  of free tools that can help find a good contrast   and there's some browser extensions that you  can add and some quite light applications you   could download as well that will help. From  an accessibility compliance perspective the   contrast ratio should be at least 4.5 to 1 or  above so you can see here in this screenshot  

there's a box here showing the  contrast ratio there as 21 to 1.   So this tool in the screenshot is the TPGI  Colour Contrast Checker, there's also one from   webAIM, the Colour Contrast Checker there as  well but they're quite useful for helping to   ensure sufficient contrast in your content for  any of your users to improve readability for them. In terms of imagery, one very common issue is  a lack of alternative or alt text for images.   So you've probably come across this already,  anywhere you have an icon a photo, a graph,   any visual element there should be descriptive  text attached to it to describe the image to a   screen reader. So it's a very literal  description that's needed but also   something that's short and concise. So they  recommend roughly 140 characters or less,   so basically the length of a tweet back in the  day I suppose. The screenshot in this slide shows  

the alt text editor in Powerpoint. Now this  is able to also auto-generate alt text which   you can try as an example. I have another example  later on in this of that auto generated content.   But you generally need to edit this from what  auto generated and add a bit more to provide an   accurate description for your users. So this is  particularly helpful for screen readers so you   can see when you click on the icon up there in the  image formatting ribbon that it will show, it'll   just pop up a very simple form and you just put  in your description there and I'll talk about the   the decorative image shortly as well there. And  then down below is the generate alt text for me. Another very common one is the use of links within  your document, so again also very relevant for   adding content online in Canvas or on web pages.  So it's generally recommended to replace the long   URL that you might have for your website or your  document with some meaningful text for the links.  

So when you add a URL using the link formatting  options in Word, for example, you can add text   that will be visible for that link. So advice  here is to avoid using 'click here' for any links   as it's not very clear for screen readers  or other sort of text to speech software.   The example here shows, in the screenshot on the  slide, shows two examples. So in the example on  

top you have a screen reader would read the entire  URL out to the user, so it can be quite long and a   bit difficult to identify the links you might  need. The example at the bottom on the other   hand is more user friendly then, so using the  title of the paper as the link text or title. Another common issue with links is having  broken or invalid links within your text   but the accessibility checkers,  whether it's in Word or on Canvas,   are quite useful for picking these up as they can  be very hard to spot yourself when you're looking   through a document and they often are located  in white space after text or anything like   that or if you've maybe made some edits there  might be one that that sort of lingers there. Another one here that can be a bit  difficult to accomplish actually is   to use simple language. So trying  to use clear and consistent words   throughout your content as this helps to  reduce any possible sources of ambiguity.   So this can be quite important for students with  different educational backgrounds, students for   whom English isn't their first language, students  with cognitive disabilities. So trying to avoid  

using overly technical terms that maybe haven't  been introduced yet or perhaps considering adding   a definition or a glossary to your document  or to your course. Basically by keeping the   language simple you're ensuring that things can be  quickly scanned and understood by your learners. The last one here is related to using tables  in your content. So the main advice related   to tables that you'll see in the guidelines and  in accessibility checker results is to ensure   that you identify table headers. So again,  this helps screen readers to make sense of   the information in a table but it can just help  to make tables clear regardless. So things to   avoid with tables are using invisible tables  - so tables would often be used as a kind of   a quick way of laying out content in a document or  online making sure things stay where you put them,   where the table borders then would be  hidden. Another thing to avoid is things  

like nested tables, so tables within tables,  as they can be difficult to to comprehend   the relationships between the content that's in  there. Merged cells as well, for the same reason,   so if you think about trying to read the  information in a table line by line or   row by row I should say, if a merged cell is in  there it can disrupt the flow of the information. I just wanted to show this image here. So this is  an acronym that can be quite useful for reminding   yourself of the common issues when creating  content. It's a mnemonic I should say really.   So this was developed by the  Worcestershire County Council,   and covers a lot of the the key issues to be  aware of. Perhaps the U there is a little bit of   a stretch but nonetheless it might be useful to  bear in mind when you're creating your content.  

For some of the items like structure  or links there in that diagram   there's a couple of points that could be  considered like you know what we were talking   about with the colour contrast and there's also  issues in terms of using colour to highlight   text within a document as well. So all of these  are under each of the of the categories there. The last point here for this section is to make  use of available tools and technologies. So,   accessibility checkers are built into  most text editors or word processors   and they can be very beneficial to run a  scan of your document before you finalise   it. They generally also offer guidance on  the particular issues so you don't have to   go searching for the information elsewhere  and you can kind of get it all in one place.

Some examples of these are the accessibility  checkers in Word and in Adobe for PowerPoint and   PDF. You have a few accessibility tools in Canvas  as well like the inbuilt Canvas Accessibility   Checker or the new UDOIT integration that checks  for accessibility issues on a module level.   Then you have the file conversion software Sensus  Access that's available on the library website   here in MTU thanks to the library and the DSS  office. So this is where staff and students can   convert files to formats that are more useful  to them and maybe more accessible as well.

So next, I'm just going to go through a  couple of points that are specific to media,   so video or imagery that you might be  using in your module or sharing on Canvas.   Again, these are related to the WCAG  standards that I mentioned earlier.   So the main point about media is to provide  multiple options for accessing the content.  

So we mentioned alt text, it's things like  offering text alternatives to your video content. So one of the most important is to include  closed captions for video content whether   live or on-demand content, so that's recorded  content that people will be accessing afterwards.   So this is not only important for students with  hearing impairments but also for students who   might be viewing content while commuting or might  be in a busy environment when they're viewing it,   maybe non-native speakers, it's a wide  range of reasons to use captions. Many  

video platforms like YouTube and Vimeo offer  auto-generated captions which have varying   levels of accuracy depending on a number of  factors but viewers can select the language   for captions as well and captions can also  be edited as well afterwards for recordings. Another important one is including transcripts  for recorded content so this is whether it's   video or audio, animation, screen recording  like a software demo, any media like that.   So there are transcription  services that can be used online,   so these are automated ones usually like the  auto generated captions or you can use tools   that let you type while playing the content  and you're going to create your own transcript   there. Another way that can speed up the adding  of transcripts is if you have a script that you   used for recording content, so this can be added  and edited to form the accompanying transcript.   So the screenshot shows an example of how this  transcript is minimised but can still be easily   accessed if needed so you're not overloading  your student with too much information. Here's the alt text for images again so this  screenshot is an example of what I had mentioned   previously about the auto generated text feature  in PowerPoint. So if the image is decorative,  

so this means that it's not important  for the students to be able to understand   or to access it, you can mark it as such so  the screen reader knows that it can skip over   it. If you do mark it as decorative you should  remove the alt text in this instance as well. And the final one here related to media is  the use of thumbnails. So this is just a small   addition that can be made to a piece of video or  of animation that can have a great kind of visual   impact and can also help to guide students to the  content that they're looking for. So if you're   using a video hosting platform like YouTube or  Vimeo you get an option to choose a thumbnail by   scrubbing through the video to to get a good still  frame to represent the content to use or else   you can also upload an image of your choosing. So  the screenshot here is just an example of the TEL  

YouTube channel, which makes use of the thumbnail  feature as well. It just kind of helps in terms   of consistency of your media as well and just,  it's a small change that can make a big impact. Okay so moving on now to looking at facilitating  inclusion in the online environment. So things to   consider here are options for accessibility  in live sessions as well as for recordings.   So here recordings can mean a recording of a  live class or perhaps it's some video content you   recorded and wanted to share with your students,  like a software demo, a screen recording of a   process, things like that. I'm specifically  talking here about Zoom in the following   slides as it's available to students through  Canvas. There are some accessibility options  

in Teams as well like captions and transcripts,  of course, but I won't go into detail on those. The first one here is captions. So it's possible  to enable closed captions for live sessions,   there's an option at the bottom of the bar if  you're a host or a co-host for a session you'll   be able to turn these on. There's also a nice  feature as well where you can can allocate a   manual captioner, so you can assign somebody in  the session to manually create captions for it,   it just makes this maybe a little  bit more accurate. You can also  

change the the language of the captions  as well so that's quite a useful feature. The next option as well is the spotlight option,  so this is available within your live session. So   you can use this spotlight to keep a participant  video visible at all times. So some or one example   anyway of how that could be used would be if  you have a sign language interpreter in your   class for a particular student you can spotlight  that user, for their video, for the whole session   so it's visible for all participants for that  session. It's also possible to pin a participant's  

video as well for the same reason, so it can  be quite effective to be able to do that. Another option here as well that can be  used for accessibility is the focus mode.   So if you turn on the focus mode in a session  it helps to remove distractions for students so   you're basically only highlighting the the video  feed of the presenter and you won't see, even   if students have their cameras on, the students  won't be able to see each other's [video feeds] so   it just helps to - as the name goes - focus  student attention to the the content at hand. Another item there is the recording transcript.   You get a transcript for any of your Zoom  recordings which is really quite useful.  

One thing to remember though is to review and  edit your auto-generated transcripts, it helps   to improve the accuracy and the clarity of the  content that's there. It's quite easy to do,   when you go into your Zoom recordings you'll  be able to click on the recording and the   transcript will show up. When you click  on the actual text of the transcript you   will get - you can see in the screenshot here -  you'll get two options. One is a little pencil  

icon and the other is a highlighter one. The  pencil icon will let you edit your transcript   and it'll save it then attached to  your recording and then the highlighter   option will help you just to highlight  aspects of the video which I'll discuss now. So recording highlights, this lets you to mark  important points of a lecture or create chapters,   for want of a better word, so you can decide  from your recording what are key areas that   your students might want to revisit. Maybe  it might help if they're scanning through  

the recording to get to the key information as  quick as possible, so you're able to do that down   here under the play bar and it lets you drag  around and rearrange your highlights here.   This will also show up in your transcript where  the actual text will be highlighted as well.   As you saw on the previous slide you're also able  to do it within the text of the transcript itself   so there's just a couple of options there.

The last thing as well is to offer audio-only  recordings. This is an option as well in Zoom   where you have your video recording, your  transcript but you can also have an audio-only   recording. So this is just a useful feature  to have available for students. As I mentioned   previously maybe you have students who revise  their content on the bus while they're commuting,   maybe you have students who just prefer  their audio recording, they can pop it on   and go for a walk and catch up with any of the  content that they want to revisit. So there's  

just a few options there in terms of trying to  make your content as accessible as possible. The final section I'm going to look at now is  Canvas and again this is just covering ways of   making your online learning environment as  inclusive as possible using small changes. So the first thing that we we would always  recommend is being able to guide students   to the learning content. There's a number  of ways that you can do this in Canvas.  

The first option, and these are all just options,  I do appreciate how busy everybody is and how   overwhelming some of this might seem. But maybe  some small changes might be useful for you. So it's possible to use home pages within Canvas,   so this can sort of help you to guide  your users and also manage expectations.   Sometimes, depending on what you want to put into  your home page, if you want to use one at all,   it would be possible to reuse this paragraph  in your other modules particularly if you keep   it sort of general to what you expect from your  students or what your students should expect from   you. So things like guiding them to additional  module information like in the syllabus, guiding   them to the resources or to the place where you  will be putting up your resources like the units,   indicating to them that any important updates will  be through the announcements feature so make sure   that they have their notifications activated. So  you can see how this might be something that could  

be a reusable paragraph and kind of save you time  but still be quite effective for your students.   One thing with all of this is keep it  simple. You can, if you like of course,   put in nice decorative buttons and everything  like that but sometimes it can be quite effective   to just use something quite simple. You  can see very text-based buttons down the   bottom just trying to guide students to the  information that they might be looking for. A big thing with guiding students as well to the   information is to try to do it in a  number of ways. So within the text   and then also maybe guiding them to the navigation  menu that's always there in Canvas. As well,  

just making sure that you're making it easy for  the students to actually access the content. The next option which I just mentioned  was the syllabus tool. So this can help   to provide quite module specific information  and focus students attention to key details,   key dates even. So this is just a very drafty  example but the module syllabus it's like  

a nice overview of the module sometimes  so we'll have a module summary where you   would have upcoming meetings, upcoming  assignments would all be listed here.   Any marks that you might have made available  to your students within Canvas would be shown   on the right if you don't do this through Canvas,  that's okay as well and that would just be empty.   You have your module calendar as well up on  the right and you still have access to your   module navigation on the left as well so it can  just be a handy way of adding, as I said, module   specific information. But maybe some parts of it  might be reusable as well for your own benefit. The next option as well, and this  is something that we would generally   recommend during our Canvas training, is to  to make use of the units within Canvas. So   things to make this a little bit clearer for  students is to use headings, text headings,   within the Canvas units to add structure, to  add some consistency. Use meaningful titles  

for these headings but also for your slides or any  of your files that you're adding. So you can add,   you can upload your files, but you can also edit  the title that is displayed on your units and   it's putting in the meaningful text for your links  that's within your content, it just helps to guide   your students and to basically show a little bit  more information about what is where it should be. The other option as well is to edit your  module navigation. So again this is looking   at providing multiple ways of guiding users to  your content but you can also remove any redundant   links from the navigation. So by default, the  template that goes out to the academic modules  

we've edited to remove some of the lesser used  tools but it's always available to staff to be   able to edit it to their liking. For example,  if you were not using pages in your module or   you want to guide students a different  way like you want them to use the units   but you still want to use pages maybe  you want to remove other items like   quizzes say you don't have quizzes you just have  assignments within your module it can just help   to change up the navigation there and that can be  done within your settings in your Canvas module. Another tip is to review your content so this  is making use of the tools available in Canvas   to check for accessibility issues but also  there's a feature called validate links in   content which can be quite useful, particularly  if you were copying any course content from   one module to another, maybe the previous academic  year. If you run this tool it will basically go   through all the links in your content and it'll  highlight things that maybe won't be accessible   to your students. Maybe they're linking back  to a previous module, maybe they're linking to   a page that is invalid now and you can go  into this tool and you can click on the page   and it'll show you a little bit  more information about it and you   can update the link there as well. So  it can be quite useful in that respect. So one of the reasons that, so you can  see at the top there it says links to   other modules in this resource may not be  accessible by the students in this module.  

So that generally kind of points to  the fact that maybe it's linking to   content that's unpublished and so if a  student clicks on it they're going to get   an error message that they can't access it. So  little little things like that can be handy. So the final thing um I want to just cover in  terms of Canvas was ways of fostering a sense of   community and supporting collaboration within your  Canvas module and one way of doing that is through   groups within Canvas. And the way that this can  be supported is through the actual collaborative   spaces that are available to groups of students  Canvas. So when you create groups and you allocate   students to these groups they have access to  this dedicated space where they can collaborate,   they can have conversations using the discussions  tool, they can share ideas and all these kinds of   things so it's a nice way to just foster  that collaboration within your modules. This was the final thing really just in terms of  a few tips to remember would be to stay consistent   in terms of your navigation, the language that  you use in your module, the expectations that   maybe you have for yourself and your students. If  possible, simplify the structure and the design,  

again it's a time saver but you know sometimes  just even putting in a welcome message and a few   different links within content can really  make a big difference for the students.   Use plain, jargon-free language. And make use of  the student view feature within Canvas, it sounds   a little bit basic but it can  really help in terms of trying to   see what the student sees and how the  student might access the information.

Another one of those mnemonics  that I wanted to share here,   just because it's a little bit more  related to the online environment,   is this one called THRIVES from Queen's University  Belfast. So again it's very like the SCULPT one   but it includes things like recordings and here  for examine it's looking at the accessibility   checkers and bits and pieces like that. So it also  mentions font as well, so using sans serif font   because it's better for readability. So that's  just another resource, just if it's of use to you  

as a sort of a reminder of some of  these improvements that can be made. So finally, just resources and further information  there. These are sort of student-facing resources   that might be handy. All students are enrolled  on an assessment practice module on Canvas so  

this is another way of trying to make the online  environment more inclusive by giving students the   space to upload their assignments, to practice  submitting things, practice submitting quizzes   and try to get used to these features if they're  not as as used to Canvas as other students. Another resource there, and I can provide links  to all these as well, this is just a list of   some of the accessibility tools that can be used  for different learning activities, so reading,   note-taking, writing. Some of the features that  are available within Canvas for students as well   so it might be handy for them just  as a kind of a quick access guide. And the final thing then is, as always, we've  got our updated Tel knowledgebase so this also   includes information on assessment accommodations  in Canvas so that's something I didn't cover here   today but it's something that is applicable for  the target audience of these diverse learners.   Further support as always is available  by emailing us at edtech at I just want to point out before I finish another  couple of resources. So there's a link there to  

the WCAG guidelines, just if anybody isn't aware  of them or wants a little bit more information   on them. This is a quick reference guide if you  looked at the original you'd see why it's a quick   reference guide it's a little bit overwhelming,  it's a little bit kind of difficult to see the   information which is why I was keen to share those  other tools, the SCULPT and THRIVES mnemonics. Another tool, or another resource  I wanted to share with you as well,   and I'll be sending this out after this  session. So before the summer we had a   visiting researcher from the University of  Alcala who gave a session on accessibility   features in Word and PowerPoint, so I'll  send the link to that and there's slides   and a recording for anyone who who missed  it. So it showed some examples of the issues   related to accessibility within Word and  PowerPoint so it might be useful for you. Finally, information on SenusAccess, that great  file conversion tool from the library site,   so that's available on the library site.  

DSS supports, assistive technologies  available for staff and students,   so information on that is available through the  DSS office and the assistive Technologies office. That's everything from me, if there's any  questions do feel free to add them. If   anything occurs to you afterwards don't hesitate  to contact us at edtech at and as I said   I'll be sending out the resources for this so the  recording and any of the links as well afterwards   so you've always the opportunity as  well to ask questions when I do that. Okay, so we'll finish up there.  Thanks so much for your time   and we have some more training sessions  going on for the next couple of days as   well if anybody is interested.  Thanks so much, take care, bye.

2023-01-21 01:34

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