Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Issues with flexible learning - access and equity

For this weeks task I looked at a paper given by Professor Barrie O'Connor, Deputy Head of School, Education and professional studies, Brisbane.
He is a board member of the Tertiary Education Disability Council (Australia)
In his paper he pointed to the "great potential that E-learning and flexible delivery holds for those with disabilities and how it supports people with different learning styles and paces"
This is backed up by my own experience with students who have had learning difficulties but are often more comfortable using the flexible resources we offer in our course i.e. blackboard, ipod, dvd, mp3 etc. I realize that some disabilities may need more individualized programming but with the resources available to students through our own disabilities unit, difficulties can be overcome.
One of the main points professor O'Connor made was the need for "universal design principles"
I know for myself the huge number of different formats available to lecturers to create programmes and usually that comes down to individual preference rather than a set format that everyone can use.
Professor O'Connor gave seven principles for universal design, copied below:
  1. Equitable Use: maximize the usefulness of design for everyone, identical whenever possible and equivalent when not, so that it avoids segregating or stigmatizing any users.

  2. Flexibility in Use, values design that accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. It should provide choice in methods of use, adaptability to the user’s pace, and facilitate the user’s accuracy and precision.

  3. Simple and Intuitive Use, seeks to create ease of understanding for users, regardless of their experience, knowledge and language.

  4. Perceptible Information, seeks to ensure that design allows information to be communicated effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.

  5. Tolerance for Error, seeks to minimize hazards and the negative consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

  6. Low Physical Effort, seeks to ensure that interaction with the environment can occur efficiently and comfortably and with minimal fatigue.

  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use, seeks to maximize approach, reach and manipulation capabilities of users irrespective of their size, posture and mobility.

His conclusion was flexible delivery and e-learning would give people with disabilities an equal footing in education "if we all become enlightened about it's potential uses"
4 - very good - several examples of this type of learning mentioned with reference to several readings and discussion of ideas from the readings and relevance to their practice

1 comment:

Leigh Blackall said...

I am really really pleased that you have fund the reference to universal design! It reminds me that we should make it a core reading in the DFLP topic.

Your use of iPods is a case in point. I worry about formating a library of resources that may be only usable on iPods. So your videos for iPod would be in the Mpg4 format, but not easily playable on a PDA or device using open standard formats like OggTheora - like my AsusEee here. So we have 3 portable devices (iPod, PDA, AsusEee) we could go further and consider Phones and the like.

I think it would be wise, and easy to make your videos available in Mp4, OggTheora, and WMV. These 3 formats cover it the biggest range of players.

If you loaded to that service will transcode your formats for you. By using Blip's cross upload to service, you go even further, getting your videos into an even greater range of formats. So by uploading to Blip, you'll end up with URLs for all three of these formats that you can list wherever your students go to download your videos.