Web Accessibility for Leaders

GDS Posters - Link in Post

This was a really good webinar from Jisc and Government Digital Service (GDS) on the new accessibility regulations which are coming into force and which apply to all publicly funded bodies, building on our obligations from the 2010 Equality Act by adding a new, higher, standard for compliance with new levels of monitoring and enforcement. What this is going to mean for learning technologists is that we are likely to have to an increased burden on ensuring that learning systems and their content is compliant with the legislation. At Sunderland, I can see us being tasked with writing the accessibility statement, or statements, for the VLE and our other systems, as the University is far too complex for a universal statement covering all of our websites and apps.

Accessibility statements are the key new requirement, and are quite prescriptive about what they need to contain. They should detail how accessible the system is, what problems there are with it that you have identified, what end users can do to mitigate those or access the content in a different way, and most importantly the statement has to include a plan about what we are going to do to improve the current situation, however good, or bad, that may be.

There is of course some concern about additional workload requirements for us, but I’m fully behind this. It’s all excellent stuff and should drive an improvement on the quality of our learning materials across the board, something which will benefit all students. Jisc are putting together statement templates which HEI’s will be able to use, and GDS, who will be the monitoring body for the legislation, have a huge range of support materials on their site, including some excellent posters.

ALT North East User Group – 2019

In a first, I didn’t just attend the meeting this time round, I hosted it at one of the University’s nicer enterprise suites at Hope Street Xchange. Working with Graeme and Julie who are the North East’s key contacts with ALT, I took care of the practicalities – venue, IT, parking, lunch – while they organised the agenda and speakers.

In the morning we had presentations from our regional Turnitin account manager who presented on their new Authorship Investigate tool which is designed to help detect instances of contract cheating, followed by a presentation and discussion from Jisc on changes to the EU’s Accessibility Regulations which we as an institution will need to respond to over the next year.

In the afternoon representatives from each institution attending gave a short presentation or talk about what interesting projects we have going on. I talked about using Trello with the team to better organise our workload, and the rollout of Panopto across the University which is now in full swing.

I’m pleased to be able to say it all went very well, with only one minor lunch hiccup which was quickly resolved. Hopefully this will be something we can do on a regular basis going forward.

ALT North East User Group

Attended the ALT North East user group today at Durham Castle* to network and share practice with learning technologists from universities and colleges across the region.

A representative from Jisc was there to provide us with an update on their Learning Analytics project, which continues to look ever more impressive every time I see it. This was followed by a demonstration and talk about Special iApps which have been created to help children with special educational needs. Then we had two sessions on the use and value of Microsoft Teams in education, one from a Microsoft representative and one from a colleague at Teesside who have been using it in the wild with good results. Finally there was a demonstration of the survey tool BluePulse via webinar.

* The castle was nice. Really nice.

Jisc OER Project Submissions

Jisc are soliciting for project submissions with regards to interactive learning resources. From their email:

Jisc is seeking to expand its offer to learners in the further education and skills sector. It is inviting project submissions for the creation of open-access learning resources aimed at apprentices funded by the Skills Funding Agency and based primarily in the workplace. Our invitation for interactive learning resources provides the perfect opportunity for the skills sector in England to move towards one of FELTAG’s recommendations for ‘blended learning’.

Consultation with practitioners, managers and students shows that teacher-generated learning content is widely used in the sector, but is not widely shared. By sharing open educational resources online, teachers can save preparation time, they can create bespoke learning content for their learners’ specific needs, and they can learn from their peers about how to integrate e-learning into their practice. Through the creation and sharing of high-quality learning content, teachers can also help raise the profile of their organisations.

Full details are available on their website: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/fundingopportunities.

Jisc Legal Copyright Course

I’ll quote the blurb from Jisc’s email:

Jisc Legal now provides a ‘need to know’ online training course in copyright law – designed to bring academic staff and those supporting academic staff up to speed on legally using other people’s materials in teaching and learning.

It is a standalone learning module which takes about an hour to complete and consists of some video, some audio segments, some animations and some text pages. The course is free to use and is available to HE institutions in the UK to train staff on how to use other people’s work in their own lecturing resources and academic work.

To register or find out more about the short practical online course please visit – http://jiscleg.al/copyrightcourse

Looks like another great free resource from Jisc.

e-Fest 14: An e-Ventful TALE

rubrics_cube

Organised by Jisc RSC Northern and held at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, eFest 2014 was a conference bringing together staff from FE and HE institutions across the North East, with an emphasis on learning technologists and people from related fields, with service providers such as Turnitin, OneFile and MoodleRooms.

The whole day was fantastic, I got to meet lots of interesting new people, discovered some new services, many of which I went away and read up on, adding the best to my personal toolkit, but the highlight of the day was the presentation of Paula Kilburn from Stockton Riverside College who presented three case studies on the use of video marking. The first was the simplest, an academic using an iPad to record him as he annotated a student’s written work. In the second the academic used the screen and audio recording functions of QuickTime to record him as he worked through an audio file the student had created, demonstrating in real time the changes required which would have got the piece up a grade. In the final example an academic was watching a video while recording audio feedback, pausing or going back as required. In all three cases the resulting videos were uploaded to the College’s Planet eStream account with no, or minimal editing, the idea being to deliver better, faster feedback, not a polished video. In all three cases the academics reported that it was faster and easier for them to give better and more comprehensive feedback than would have been possible to write. The whole pilot was a huge success with students who received video feedback showing substantial improvement compared to the respective cohorts from previous years.

As always at these kinds of event, there was a open marketplace for tea, coffee, mingling and for various providers to demonstrate their wares, trying to attract people to them with the usual games and freebies. Turnitin, however, set the standard to beat with their Rubrics Cubes, very droll.

Finally, I would just like to say that with regards to the ‘Stadium of Light’ Metro station, I would humbly suggest to Nexus that to improve accuracy this station be renamed to the ‘Random Tesco car park over a kilometre away from the Stadium of Light, with no clear sign posting’ Metro station. My unexpected journey humbly reminded me to be grateful for smartphones, satellite navigation and the company of fellow wayward souls. In all seriousness, to anyone who needs to go to the Stadium of Light on the Metro, get off at St Peter’s station instead as it is actually closer.

http://www.jiscrsc.ac.uk/northern/e-fest-awards.aspx
http://www.planetestream.co.uk/
http://submit.ac.uk/en_gb/
http://www.onefile.co.uk/
http://uki.moodlerooms.com/
http://edina.ac.uk/