Sharing Accessibility Stories: Making eLearning for Everyone

In November 2019,  several members of our eLearning team attended Michigan State University’s (MSU) 5thannual Accessible Learning Conference (ALC). The theme of the conference was storytelling, emphasizing that the core of accessibility is “people and their stories.” As someone who’s been a student in the communication and theatre fields for almost a decade, this theme struck a chord with me. Often, at both private and public universities, the majority of students’ disabilities are often unidentified, so their stories go untold. These untold stories create a roadblock in these students’ ability to succeed in learning environments.

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The Importance of Being Present in Your Online Course

You can have a well-designed course with relevant content and an expert instructor, yet the course can still be perceived as a negative experience by students. Why? The instructor was not “present” in the course. 

It takes more than grading to create instructor presence. Bangert defines instructor presence as “the ‘methods’ that instructors use to create the quality online instructional experiences that support and sustain productive communities of inquiry” (Bangert, 2008, p. 40). Without instructor support, courses quickly become barren.

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Going the Extra Mile: Understanding Non-Traditional Students

When thinking about the demographics of students currently enrolled in colleges and universities, we often first consider traditional students, between ages 18-24. However, enrollment trends in traditional, blended, and online programs are revealing that nontraditional students, those ages 25 and older, are becoming more and more prominent in the classroom. Today I want to discuss the dynamics of nontraditional students, the pressures they face, and what it means to go the extra mile in order to understand their needs and enable them to succeed.      

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Why (and How) I Guard my Instructional Design Time

In Ann’s recent post, she outlined some of her workflow processes and how she gets through the variety of tasks she has in any given day. As I was reading through and editing it, I really only had one thought cross my brain.

“I could never work like this…”

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Engage Learners with Instructional GIFs

You can’t really go anywhere on the internet without running into the ubiquitous animated GIF (graphical interchange format). Originating in 1987, GIFs shaped—and grew—with the internet in the following 30+ years (for those who missed the 90s or want to reminisce, the Internet Archive created a search for early GIFs).

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What Makes a Good Informational Video?

As instructional designers, we try to use the best tool for the task when communicating with a learner. Video is a great format for conveying information, but how do you know if it’s done well?

This week, we’ll hear from our summer student worker, Kyle Winchell. Kyle is a Digital Media Broadcasting major and editor of Spring Arbor University’s weekly chapel video, Almost Chapel. After graduation he plans to fill various roles for local film productions, specifically in the roles of director of photography and production assistant.

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Formatting eLearning Documents: Collaboration Station

Now that we’ve discussed many of the important formatting tools in MS Word, let’s turn our attention to collaboration. In the first post of this series, Back to the Basics, we explored the highly collaborative environment of eLearning.

After adding hyperlinks, page breaks, tables, and photos, it’s time to share your material with your fellow collaborators. And, using MS Word’s Review tab, you can work with them to discuss, edit, and update your document.

Let’s take a look at this Review Tab, our Collaboration Station™.

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Announcements: Finding the Balance Between Posting Too Little or Too Much

What if you entered a face-to-face classroom and found no instructor to welcome you to class, give you an overview of the semester, or guide you through your projects? Or what if your instructor made an appearance the first day of class, but slowly became less and less engaged as the semester progressed?

You’d be in the dark for most of the semester and probably pretty frustrated with your instructor, right?

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The eLearning Professional

You don’t become a professional by just calling yourself one. One key difference between professionals and non-professionals is this: professionals are bound by ethical codes. 

So, what’s the professional code of eLearning?

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Formatting eLearning Documents: Picture This

Images are a great way to add a little life to your document. Microsoft Word makes it especially easy to insert images into a document. But, with great power comes great responsibility, and you should stick with some basic principles when inserting images. If not, they can be overwhelming, hard to see, and difficult for a reader to interpret the relationship of the image to the text.

So, in this post, we’ll explore the basics of inserting and formatting an image and some little extras, like adding alt text to improve the accessibility of your documents.

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