Can We Teach Them All to Reach Them All? Online Accessibility Focused Professional Development

Concurrent Session 9

Brief Abstract

In an effort to increase awareness across campus and expand professional learning opportunities, Kennesaw State University administrators and instructional designers created an online asynchronous workshop series. This new offering not only trains faculty, but it also provides exemplars upon which they can create their own accessible instructional materials.

 

Presenters

Specialist of Education, University of Georgia M.Ed., Georgia College & State University BS.Ed., University of Georgia Office: 3203 Campus Loop Road, Room 109 DLC Telephone: 470-578-7668 Email: jcamer13@kennesaw.edu May 2011 Kennesaw State University Shining Star Award KSU Presidential Commission on Disability Strategies and Resources, Carol J. Pope Award for Distinction (Diversity Awards) - April 2014 Distance Learning Administration Conference Wagner Awards, AliveTek Innovation in Distance Education - June 2014 Outstanding Faculty Member, EdS in Teacher Leadership Program (Faculty Member for Special Recognition -chosen by student) - April 2015
MS, Georgia State University BA, Simmons College Office: 3203 Campus Loop Rd, Room 124 Telephone: (470) 578-3878 Email: mmacdon3@kennesaw.edu

Extended Abstract

SESSION OUTCOMES:

  • Participants will be able to identify the need for asynchronous online  faculty professional learning on accessible design & development

  • Participants will be able to identify and discuss key elements of an exemplary online professional learning accessibility workshop that models

  • Participants will be able to identify key strategies useful in helping faculty create accessible online/hybrid courses and course materials

PROJECT & RESEARCH DATA:

  • Context – Kennesaw State University offers over 70 degree, minor, certification, or endorsement online programs. With over 34,000 students, the university is quickly and quietly earning a reputation throughout the state of Georgia as a leader in online programming. As that leader, KSU is committed to providing a premiere, personalized educational experience for leadership and engagement within a diverse nation and world. This educational experience is achieved through recognition and appreciation of the differing backgrounds and experiences reflected within the University community. KSU strives to create accessible learning to students with disabilities and diverse learners in accordance with applicable state and federal laws including, but not limited to, Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. KSU’s commitment includes providing comprehensive training to faculty and professional staff on the use of Information & Communications Technologies we purchase, create, and use, including academic courseware.

  • Problem – Because full-time faculty are responsible for creating face-to-face, hybrid, and online course materials, they need to learn the basics of web accessibility and their responsibilities to their students under the law. Web accessibility standards are often very technical in nature and not easily translated to faculty (who, at times, have little to no prior technology training). After a year of face-to-face workshops on designing and developing accessible digital learning environments, the need for an asynchronous online workshop for faculty and professional staff became evident.

  • Process – The Kennesaw State University Distance Learning Center created a professional learning curriculum to address the accessibility training needs of faculty. It is called the Faculty Four of Accessible Development, and it focuses on teaching faculty to (1) provide alternative text and log descriptions for images, (2) provide captions for multimedia and transcripts for audio / podcasts, (3) create accessible documents – whether html, Word, or PDF, and (4) choose accessible resources and/or third party technologies. Each of these “Faculty Four” require a change in habit or practice; none are incredibly difficult from a technical standpoint. After devising this curriculum and testing it with a year of face-to-face workshops, DLC administrators and instructional designers created an asynchronous version of the popular “Accessibility Basics” professional learning series. Because this PL series is meant for faculty who design and develop for digital environments, the online workshops not only had to teach faculty HOW to create accessible learning environments, but it also had to MODEL this type of environment. The creators took several steps to make sure the content, assessments, and resources provided in the online workshops contained any and all elements the DLC asks faculty to consider through the Faculty Four training.

  • Results – Although currently, data from the new online asynchronous training isn’t available (but will be by the time of the presentation), data from the face-to-face series gave the DLC administrators and instructional designers good feedback as they created this new version of the professional learning series. Additionally, faculty have agreed to to report how the workshops have impacted their practices in teaching and learning over the course of the academic year. That data will also be shared with session participants.

EFFECTIVE PRACTICE CRITERIA:

 

  • Innovation – Faculty development is constantly evolving. As our knowledge of teaching and learning grows, so does the need for professional learning in higher education. However, much of this professional learning centers on the act of teaching rather than the act of learning (from the students’ perspective). Learning about accessibility and the needs of diverse learners makes student learning the focus of the work. Very little has been done to teach faculty how to create inclusive and accessible learning environments for students… Many faculty members see this duty as beyond the scope of their responsibilities. However, most university policies state that faculty are responsible for the accessibility of the course materials they provide to their students. Offering focused support for this work is innovative on the KSU campus and many others world-wide.

  • Replicability – Instructional designers, academic support staff or faculty, and/or e-learning administrators can take this presentation and modify it to suit the professional learning needs of faculty on any campus. Section 508 guidelines have recently begun to mirror international standards for web accessibility (WCAG 2.0 AA). Because this workshop series focuses on the WCAG 2.0 standards, both national and international session participants can take this information and apply it to their own learning environments.  

  • Impact – The professional learning curriculum presented could have a huge impact on the culture of an institution… Not only does it bring accessible learning environments and course materials to the forefront of design and development conversations, but it also puts the onus on the faculty to recognize the needs of diverse learners. Additionally, the more faculty and staff see the availability of different types of accessibility focused PL, the more likely they will be to question whether or not they are addressing accessibility in their own work (one more step toward creating a truly inclusive academic atmosphere).

  • Evidence – We can look to student learning outcomes and course evaluations for evidence of the effectiveness of this professional learning. Looking at the self-reported efficacy levels of faculty would also provide great insight (staged surveys – before, immediately after, and down the line after further development and more professional learning). The way that faculty feel about accessibility has a direct correlation to how they implement these accessibility strategies as they are designing and developing course materials. The online asynchronous workshop includes a pre-survey, post-survey, module surveys, as well as a variety of formative assessments that can all be examined as evidence.

  • Scope – The scope of this practice (as presented) can expand or contract as necessary. For KSU, implementation of a face-to-face and webinar audience occurred first. The second phase, the online workshop series available to KSU faculty and staff and the focus of this presentation, opens the project up to a whole new population of possible participants (faculty who work from a distance, part-time faculty).  Plans have been discussed to create and offer this online version for a MOOC audience (perhaps within our state’s system first, then to others). Again, the scope of the project is fluid.