Tag Archives: accessibility

Training Services update

On Monday, November 12th, Chris Lucas and Heather Huntsinger from Penn State’s Training Services visited campus and met with John Hoh, Greg Crawford, Barb Hundertmark, Sue Copella, Tim Lengel, Kristin Bittner, and me to update us on their services and inquire about our training needs. Here are a few notes I took during that meeting.

lynda.com: Training Services has hired an instructional designer, Nathan, who will be helping faculty integrate lynda into their courses, and will be working to raise awareness of this licensed tool. It was interesting to hear that lynda is moving towards an LMS model, and Penn State has a good working relationship with them. There have been problems with faculty, staff, and students who have “member” status in lynda. For full-time faculty and staff, Human Resources can update the UADR screen and publish the faculty or staff member’s work address. For adjunct faculty, they will not have access to lynda until their first paycheck has been processed. However, there is a work-around and the help desk should be contacted for assistance.

UCS: Training Services does have some nice quickstart guides available on their website. They are also aware of an interest in advanced UCS training. Some interests shared in our meeting included the use of briefcases, and different uses of the calendars (used for vendor visits, and software licensing).

Accessibility: As of next semester, their training classes will integrate accessibility into training on Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF creation. Accessibility training for faculty will also be available.

ANGEL: They are redoing their training in ANGEL to be more pedagogically focused.

Tech Tutors: Currently, this is a UP program providing technology tutors for students. There is a possibility that it will be piloted here next year.

Indiana University (IU) Training Materials for PSU trainers/instructors: The distribution and use of these materials is closely monitored according to the license agreement. I am our campus representative, and can print and distribute these materials to a PSH trainer/instructor for training/instructional purposes. Some of the printed handouts available include Access, Excel, PowerPoint, and Word (2003, 2007); Acrobat (v. 7 & 8); CSS; Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, Illustrator, and InDesign (CS2, 3, 4); PhotoShop (CS2, 3, 4); SPSS (v. 8 & 9); XHTML.

Lecture Capture: Echo 360 has been piloted, and this year Panopto is being piloted. Some faculty have been using Camtasia Relay on their own.

IT Pro Roundtables: (From the Training Services website) These are monthly presentations and open discussions hosted by Penn State and
other IT industry experts. These sessions are free, open to the Penn
State community, and revolve around the technology topics that are
relevant to the roles of Penn State’s current and aspiring IT
professionals. Some of these sessions are recorded and available in wikispaces at https://wikispaces.psu.edu/display/ITPro/IT-Pro+Roundtable+Recording.

Survey: Heather and Chris will share their Training Services survey with Barb Hundertmark so she can administer it to our campus. The results will help to determine our training needs.

Center for Workplace Learning & Performance: Training Services is working more closely with this new center.

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Universal Design & Online Education: Ensuring Access & Engagement for all Students

On Friday, a small group of faculty and staff attended this webinar sponsored by Education Technology Services (ETS). The presenters were Kristen Betts and Jenny Dugger, both from Drexel University. While the focus was on students with disabilities, we quickly realized a few things, and wondered about a few others:

  • A high number of disabled students do not self-identify with our Office of Disability Services, but are still in our classes trying to learn.
  • Some barriers to self-identification include the cost of acceptable tests and the mound of paperwork required. The burden is quite great.
  • By proactively designing our courses to be accessible, we could be impacting the learning for many more of our students than we might realize.
  • Are we doing enough to increase students’ awareness of the resources available to them (syllabi, marketing, etc.)?
  • What happens when accommodations are simply a part of our course design, and not something special we need to do differently or retrofit?
  • Does our definition of disability include the barriers WE create?

So, what might Universal Design mean for our work in designing courses (online and face-to-face)? A list of guidelines and best practices culled from Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) was provided that gives us a great starting point.

  1. Text Alternatives: Use text alternatives for any non-text content (i.e., images).
  2. Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways.
  3. Distinguishable: Clearly differentiate between elements (i.e., separate foreground and background – contrast).
  4. Keyboard Accessible: Users should be able to navigate everything from a keyboard.
  5. Enough time: Provide enough time to complete tasks.
  6. Seizures: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures (i.e., flashing lights).
  7. Readable: Text needs to be readable and understandable.
  8. Predictable: Consistency helps with navigation.
  9. Input Assistance: Be proactive in avoiding and correcting mistakes.
  10. Compatible: Able to use with assistive technologies and other agents.

These are all great reminders for designers, and are guidelines that benefit all learners.

Additional resources:
7 Principles of Universal Design, from Sloan
Dr. Sean Zdenek’s Accessible Rhetoric Blog
National Center for Universal Design for Learning
List of assistive technologies