One aspect from the Emergency Remote Education pivot was the student desire for more structure outcomes, consistency in LMS design, and internally consistent timing around content release, live events, and being about to set their own expectations as to when studying the course would fit into their interrupted life schedules.
The question to ask with all LMS site development is what are the delivery formats that best facilitate content, contact and context for the subject cohort on their way to attaining the desired learning outcomes?
Accessible by Design
- Upload PowerPoint files (free of lecturer annotations) instead of PDF print outs of PowerPoint. When you print slides to pdf as multiple slides per page, they are captured as images, and invisible to the screen reader / text translation software
- Images should have ALT tag information that conveys the meaning of the image rather than the detail eg “This is the Ansoff Matrix, a 2 by 2 grid of four alternative strategies based on new product, existing product, new customer, existing customer combinations” rather than “A black and white image of four boxes. Each box contains a text line. That text line is a marketing strategy…”. Most LMS will prompt for ALT text when you upload an image
- Word documents are relatively universal formats in the age of Office365. When we get the Office365 integration, consider putting key documents on OneDrive.
- Low Bandwidth Alternatives: If possible, and you have the capacity to arrange it, consider setting up your course to be downloadable through ZIP or RAR archive files. This way, students can enter the course, acquire key aspects, and work offline, rather than use data caps and limits in streaming materials.
Proving access to Readings (journals and IP restrictions)
- Compliance with the copyright requirements of the University is recommended. You need to link to the article either through the library, directly to the journal or maybe through ResearchGate where the author has shared the file. Copyright rules are restrictive and ill considered and apply to us all the same.
- As part of the course onboarding sequence, introduce your students to the Library access points, including any University provided VPN, reverse proxy, or Remote Access enabling system.
- Explain how access to these resources is contextually valuable to your subject.
- Do this for each course, with an eye to getting students to understand how the assets contained through journal papers makes their experience of the course better, easier or more rewarding.
- Explain the value and role of pre-readings in the course, the difference between required reading (eg stuff actively discussed in class), recommended reading (extensions of knowledge), and follow up readings (material posted as a result of discussion in real time).
- Consider prerecording a short explainer on how to use the readings materials for assessment purposes for your course.
- Where you are using external videos in support of your course, there may be access limits with regard to YouTube for international students. You will also need to check the video is still active periodically, due to YouTube being YouTube.
- With internal videos, such as assessment guides, feedback or weekly updates, you may find it easier to use your University’s prefer media streaming tool for your LMS content.