There’s no question that technology has become a huge part of our everyday lives. It has impacted how we think, because we depend on it; how we read, how we communicate and so much more. It has even impacted the education world. Technology has profoundly changed how teachers teach and how students learn, especially adult learners. For one, technology has greatly expanded access to education for all learners. With the aid of the Internet, the classroom walls no longer become a barrier. Technology has broken this barrier by enabling new ways of learning, communicating, and working collaboratively with educators and learners all around the world.
Before incorporating technology into an online learning environment, online instructors must take into consideration the accessibility and usability of the course content. Usability, in an e-learning context, can be defined as the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which users can achieve specified learning (or learning related) goals in a particular environment or with a particular tool or learning resource…[basically] it’s the ease of use (Cooper, Colwell, & Jelfs, p. 232, 2007). Accessibility is determined by the flexibility of the e-learning system or learning resource to meet the needs and preferences of all users (p. 232). It is important to make sure all course content is accessible and user friendly for all users, including learners with disabilities. Learners must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally, and independently as a person without a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act prevents any college or university from excluding disable students in activities, services, and programs (Ingeno, 2013). Therefore, all online instructors should evaluate the overall design of the course for accessibility. It is important that course materials are formatted correctly for assistive devices; devices such as screen readers and alternative keyboards.
Technologies I use when teaching online…
I personally like to use screencast-o-matic to make videos of various Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator tutorials. I also like use Moodle (a course management tool), which allows me to organize all the resources students need for a class. Resources like assignments, readings, quizzes, and things like that. Course management tools like Moodle also provides valuable grading tools for educators, discussion spaces for learners, and document sharing for both educators and learners. I also like using Google docs which allows students including myself, to share documents online. Students can also use Google Docs as a collaborative platform to brainstorm ideas and document their work in real time.
Cooper, M., Colwell, C., & Jelfs, A. (2007). Embedding accessibility and usability: Considerations for e-learning research and development projects. ALT-J: Research in Learning Technology, 15(3), 231–245.
Ingeno, L. (2013). Online accessibility a faculty duty. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/06/24/faculty-responsible-making-online-materials-accessible-disabled-students