ITC 2012 e-Learning Conference, Day 1 – Afternoon

The first thing up for the afternoon was lunch, which of course meant that it was time for the Great Debate. Always an engaging time at #ITC, this year’s resolution was “Resolved: Developmental Students Cannot Succeed Online.” The debaters were Fred Feldon (Coastline Community College) in favor of the resolution and Donna Gaudet (Scottsdale Community College) against the resolution. Going into the debate, everyone was rooting for Donna, knowing that students can succeed online, assuming they are set up for success. The debate didn’t bring up anything that I didn’t already know. Students can (and are) succeeding in online courses, as Donna can attest. All in all, both debaters did a great job. Fred was at a disadvantage because no one likes arguing in favor of the resolution – that’s just how it’s set up.The concurrent session that I was going to go attend in the afternoon ended up not being what I was expecting, so I picked up the handout and left. However, I did attend:Concurrent Session 3 – Universal Design in Practice: Teach Yourself to Design Universally Accessible Courses. This was apparently a big topic. I had no idea what UDL was before going into the session, but after the brief intro video (below), it was clear that most of the concepts were common sense. The primary aspects were providing multiple methods of engagement, representation, and expression. The organization that is known for universal design is Cast, which has a website devoted to the topic. The big topics were closed captioning and addressing accommodations for students with disabilities. For instructors that have questions about the resources that are available, they can visit the Association of Higher Education And Disabilities.One thing that I wish we could encourage is for LMS companies (or companies in general) to pair up with the creators of JAWS so that accessibility can be tested prior to software release. The fact that JAWS is always behind the times puts students with disabilities at an even greater risk. If and when institutions look to contract with software companies, ask them to fill out a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template so that they can be held accountable if accessibility problems occur. Another resource for faculty is to find Youtbe videos with closed captioning. To do so, search YouTube for “[term], cc” and only videos with closed captioning are returned. If instructors need to create closed captioning for their own videos, the best tool appeared to be screencast-o-matic.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDvKnY0g6e4I’d say it’s been a good day with lots of information!

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