Tag Archives: accessibility

What can we do to help students be more successful in online courses?

We surveyed our online students this spring and received a strong response to the open-ended question, “What could [the college] do to help you be more successful in online course(s)?

CC-BY-NC-SA by Ed Yourdon on Flickr

CC-BY-NC-SA by Ed Yourdon on Flickr

I tried to categorize the students’ responses around themes – here are the top ten…

  1. Reliable Technology – specifically the learning management system (LMS). Students expect the technology to be reliable and to work as designed when they need it. They do not expect to be logged out, or timed out, or to find the system off-line due to a power outage, etc.
  2. Video – students want their courses to include short videos:  lectures, explanations, examples, demonstrations… “like Khan Academy”.
  3. More Online Courses – students are enrolling in online courses because it meets their schedules and they need more online offerings if they are to complete their programs
  4. Reminders – they want to get alerts, reminders, notifications about what is due and when it is due.
  5. Consistency – students would like for their online courses to have the same look and feel. The layout of the courses, tabs, menus should be the same from one course space to the next.
  6. Instructor Availability – students want to be able to contact their instructor when they have a question or need help and expect to get a response in a timely manner.
  7. Timely Feedback – students are looking for their instructors to keep them apprised of their progress. They would like to get their grades early and often.
  8. Faculty Involvement – students appreciate faculty taking an active role in teaching the course – not so much a third-party website or publisher’s course pack.
  9. Online Testing – they want to be able to take more tests online as opposed to coming to the testing center. They point out that they enrolled in the online class so that they would not need to travel to campus.
  10. Calendar – students would like to know what is coming up ahead of time and for all their courses. A composite calendar of events for all of their courses is their suggested solution.

It is interesting to me that through this survey, students had an opportunity to recommend new and innovative technological solutions, yet they focused much more so on issues of design and delivery – on improving existing processes.

The good news is, we can do a lot of this this stuff!

Will Google Classroom be your next LMS?

Google is inviting educators to apply for a free preview of their “Google Classroom”.

The initial roll-out of the learning management system (LMS) includes several of the basic tools we are accustomed to seeing in other systems, including assignments and communications tools, along with a grade book.

Google is inviting partners to participate with the development of additional integration tools. Perhaps some of the features we have come to expect (e.g. plagiarism prevention, quizzes) will be made available as these partnerships evolve.

The trend over the past several years, has been for LMSs to become increasingly more complex with myriad connections / integrations behind the scenes and a never-ending stream of updates and patches that challenge both end-users and administrators time, skills, and patience.

Some of the initial criticism of Google Classroom is that it isn’t as sophisticated as the more established commercially available platforms.  However, according to Clayton Christensen, disruptive innovation “takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market…”

Keeping in mind that Google already has a foot in the door for many educational institutions with  Gmail serving as the primary email system for millions of students throughout the world – meaning students already have access – they’re already logged in.

Ready-or-not, Google Classrooms is scheduled to be rolled out in September of this year. If they can keep it simple, affordable, and accessible – who knows?



Improve accessibility using YouTube captioning…

A short video on how to go about editing your YouTube video captions…

I prefer this method to that of uploading a text file for short videos – just a few minutes in length. As far as anything longer than ten minutes, you might be better off writing the script and uploading a caption file or adding a transcript.