Association Genius

Hi folks, Marc here. Today we’ve got another article by our guest blogger, James. He makes us think about accommodating technology for disabilities, and how sometimes that old reliable cell phone you had was all you really needed anyway.

Happy reading!

Online Learning

The speed by which technology has changed our learning habits and the pedagogy has been transforms at lightning speed. We have gone from classrooms with chalkboards to classrooms with power point. Technology has taken us from over kill of Power Point presentations to “death by webinar.” This new webinar class room has become less interactive then the old physical classroom then the one with power point in it. The webinar does have its perks, and they are as follows:

  • The ability to reach a larger audience
  • Lower training staff cost
  • Ability to use staff differently
  • The ability to make people self-motivating learners, provided the webinar is created correctly from a pedagogical standpoint of stimulation, interactive, and able to reach the learning style of a broad audience
  • The ability to use more media in a presentation
  • Test-out options for participants and they are only tested on what they don’t know

Most of the technology convinces we enjoy as a society today has been developed specific uses for small groups in mind. Some examples of this are voice recognition, magnification and texting; these were developed as assistive technologies first. We now take the benefits of the assistive technology for granted in our everyday lives. This leads me to the largest issue with this format is that it needs to reach learners at all levels. The webinar needs to find an appropriate speed and be able to be viewed with the accessibility tools for those with disabilities. There are many e-learning and webinars that are still not created with the accessibility standards in mind for those with disabilities. When creating a webinar the IT staff and Trainers needs to keep in mind that people will be using software that will be reading the text or describe the pictures on screen to them. In the design and coding process this needs to be taken into account. The above list becomes a bigger obstacle when you take your learning process to the mobile device. Many of the makers of assistive learning technology still need to catch up to the mobile devices. Things to keep in mind:

  • Speed of webinar and e-learning seminar
  • Accessibility criteria
  • Audience and its diversification
  • Engagement and interaction
  • Realize not everyone picks up information the first time
  • If you insert a test into a webinar everyone tests at a different rate (multiple choice) is not always the best evaluation tool. If the webinar is based on participation find ways to evaluate participation.
  • Like in a classroom environment you may need to reinforce information more than once but in different ways to people don’t get bored.

We must be careful that in the process that we are not leaving people behind in this explosion of learning growth. We cannot ignore all that the traditional classroom has taught us about learning, either. Learning is difficult and no matter where you do it that difficulty will not change, the job of the educated is to make learning enjoyable, intuitive and to empower the learner to continue to learn. “An educated society makes and educated electorate.” – Thomas Jefferson.

Latest is not always greatest

The consumer, IT Departments and everyone in between, have become obsessed with the latest invention on the market. The wide choice of devices and platforms has led to confusion and decentralization of resources. This decentralization has forced IT Departments into high-expenditure projects, and to continue looking for the next great breakthrough in technology to keep people as customers. In the rush to “new” and “great” technology we have forgotten to harness what we have already. Many of the technologies people have they love and have not gotten rid of and they are simple to use.

We as designers and developers have disregarded for the “cutting edge”. What makes technology easy and accessible is the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid). No matter how great your App or webinar looks people will not use it if it is not user friendly. User Design is essential to all platforms. Some of the oldest and most loved devices are our best friends in this mobile world. (Take a minute and think about some of them.) These are time tested, and inexpensive compared to current mobile devices and they have brand loyalty to them as well.

Quality and Availability of Information

When people speak of creating more accesses to information, people only think about it only in terms of how many ways I can get to the information or how much information. People don’t look at access to information in terms of quality, means, liberty or ability to enter. This has led to a lack of depth in the information because people only can handle small bits of information, changing the way we reach people and the level of knowledge people have. The above-mentioned qualities of access are very important to keep in mind when we put information out into the public domain for consumption. If the information is not of quality, means, liberty or ability to enter, then no one will stay with you. People must be taken on an epistemological journey. Information for the sake of information is no information at all.

Access can also be defined by equal opportunity to the information. This opportunity can be found in places like the Americans with Disabilities Act section 504 and 508. For this group it is not about how many devices you put the information or the quality of the information, it is about just viewing it. This is the basic access to knowledge that is so critical to so many people. By creating accessible programs, your audience gets bigger and the quality of your program improves. As a developer, it is shocking to see how these simple changes make a website or webinar better and improve everyone’s ability to retain information and your business to retain people.

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