I believe accessibility and universal design are very critical to the design of any course. Every instructional design ought to consider the ways that different students would access or view the course. These features affect the ability of students to successfully understand the details of the course.
In online education, ease of access comes into play in many areas. Learners view the material with different devices. Hence, the course content needs to be optimized for desktop, smartphones, tablets and other technologies. You could also have students signing in from several countries around the world. In that case, you would want the course to be accessible in different languages. My classmate and I were testing a course for an in-class assignment when we came across this issue. The course was in Dutch and since we do not understand a word in that language, we need translation to continue the project. The course needs to be made accessible to every targeted learner.
According to an article by Varonis (2015), a great litmus test for the accessibility of a course could look like this:
All learners must be able to access related information, navigate online material and complete the course requirements in order to meet the learning goals.
The more I think of the traditional, blended and online courses I have taken, the more agree with Varonis’ litmus test for accessibility. This is very important in online courses because the students usually navigate the class material themselves. I remember getting an average letter grade in an online course because the course content wasn’t conspicuous enough. There were so many assignments that I didn’t know about. I had to retake the course with another instructor the following semester; I made an excellent grade because the previous accessibility issue wasn’t a problem.
There was so much I learned from my classmate’s presentation and the in-class research on course accessibility. This blog post and the previous classroom activities opened my eyes to the importance of putting accessibility in mind when designing a course. While critiquing an online course earlier this week, we found many issues that would leave the potential learners with so many questions. I have realized to take accessibility into consideration when designing a course.
There are several learning technologies that aren’t very successful because the creators didn’t pay attention to the various type of students that would access it. We had to evaluate an online course that was in Dutch. Luckily, Canvas had the translation feature to help us navigate the course easily. Sometimes it is easy to ignore the fact that there are students that need subtitles for a video lecture or that some students taking the course around the world don’t speak English.
As professionals in the education field, we need to take these issues into consideration. We ought to involve students as much as possible in the course design process.
Varonis, E. M. (2015). From barriers to bridges: Approaching accessibility in course design. International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, 32(3), 138-149. doi:10.1108/ijilt-12-2014-0033