Tuesday, 20 May 2014

#ocTEL Week 2 Explorer - Learner Diversity

Try to find one example from your own practice, or an example or resource from elsewhere, that you think exemplifies good practice in taking a technology-enhanced approach to addressing a key aspect of learner diversity.

I am a team member of the Begin Programming: Build your first mobile game on FutureLearn platform (see a short video what we do here ). We offered our MOOC twice now and third run is scheduled for October 2014. In designing the MOOC we adapted good practice guides to cater to differently-abled students. We provided transcripts for all videos, made them accessible by reducing graphics and basically adhered to all the adviced we received from the platform.

However, in the first run of the course we realised that our participants who were hard of hearing had difficulty with videos because on introduction video for each week a background music was being played. We had about 18% of over 55s in our first run and this was a distraction for lot of them. The team got the videos redone for second run without music but this time we had a different issue. We had a colour blind learner with us and as you may have seen from the video above, the game framework we provide creates an app that is green and red - the worst colours for colour blind people as she put it. Luckily it was only a matter of customisation to change colours of the app and I answered her query for help within couple of minutes. But this showed us that despite adhering to guidelines of best practices still we can potentially exclude learners had our game not being customizable.

In the same course we had a different forms of exclusion due to learners being residing on countries/areas where either internet access was monitored and access to some sites were blocked or broadband access was not available. For example a learner from Cambodia complained that he was not allowed to download Java software from the website. We had other learners with narrow band internet access trying desperately to access videos. We were able to allow them access to download them but due to platform guidelines we were not able to offer them a low resolution version of the videos. Here where I live now (Reading, UK) broadband internet access is taken for granted. But that is not the case in most areas of the developing countries and in some rural parts of the developed countries. We have tried our best to feed our learners concerns and feedback to the platform and we hope there will be a solution to at least the video download problem in our third run.

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