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September Newsletter 2012

OpenCourseWare Consortium

Focus on OER & Accessibility It has been estimated that more than 1 billion people around the world live with some form of disability. According to the World Report on Disability (Preface, page xi), “Across the world, people with disabilities have poorer health outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is partly because people with disabilities experience barriers in accessing services that many of us have long taken for granted, including health, education, employment, and transport as well as information.” The full report can be downloaded here: http://tiny.cc/fa0alw

One of the primary goals for the Open Education movement is to make education and educational materials accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime. We need to be conscious of the issues presented above as we share Open Educational Resources and build new projects that help people make maximum use of these resources. How can the Open Education movement ensure that people with disabilities can benefit from the vast amount of free and open educational resources? Using strategies that increase accessibility makes the materials more usable by everyone. For example, transcripted videos are easier to translate.

In this issue of our newsletter you will learn about a number of initiatives taking place around the world whose main aim is to address accessibility issues with OER. We hope these projects will help you consider how to make Open Education even more open to all. You can view an online version of the newsletter on ISSUU (OCWConsortium). As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions. Send us an email and let us know what topics you’d like in future newsletters. Mary Lou Forward

Inside this Issue: 2 Enabling Teaching Professionals to Create and Re-use Accessible Open Educational Resources (by Anna Gruszczynska) 3 Flexible Learning for Open Education: One-Size-Fits-One Learning (by Jutta Treviranus) 4 A Call to Action in Higher Education: Opening a Dialogue for Improved Access for All (by Mark A. Riccobono) 6 California Community Colleges: Striving Towards Accessible and Open (by James GlapaGrossklag & Una Daly) 7 OER and Accessibility: Building a Community of People and Collection of Accessible Resources (by Gerry Hanley & Una Daly) 9 Consortium News and Updates


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Enabling Teaching Professionals to Create and Re-use Accessible Open Educational Resources Anna Gruszczynska, Digital Futures in Teacher Education Project Manager Sheffield Hallam University This article draws on the findings of a project "Open Education Related-related accessibility issues and their relevance to practices of repurposing/reuse" which I undertook between September 2011- May 2012 as part of a SCORE (Open University Support Centre for Open Resources in Education) teaching fellowship (http://tiny.cc/wobalw). The research project examined factors which act as barriers and enablers regarding the creation and re-use of accessible teaching resources, focusing on attitudes and approaches of education professionals towards accessibility issues in the context of Open Educational Resources. In the context of the project, accessibility refers to the ability of OERs to be viewed, navigated and read by everyone, including learners with additional needs, which may be due to auditory, visual, mobility, and/or cognitive impairments. Importantly, if by virtue of being embedded within the

ethos of open access and open education OERs are designed to empower students and help them overcome barriers to education, then by extension, these teaching resources should be free of barriers in the realm of accessibility. The key element of the project was a survey, which targeted UK-based education practitioners (for a full report, see project wiki http://tiny.cc/1wbalw). The feedback from 94 respondents indicated that while it is vital to increase awareness of teaching professionals of OERrelated accessibility issues, there is a need to provide adequate support in terms of technical resources, relevant institutional policies as well as guidance from accessibility specialists as and when needed. It has to be noted though that a bottom-up approach is much more preferable to the mostly impossible task of controlling centrally produced resources. That approach could for instance rely on social networking tools to flag up resources that are accessible.

Importantly, this approach calls for pragmatism and recognition that it is impossible to produce a universally accessible resource, hence attention should be paid to providing resources in formats which are easily customizable and adaptable to the needs of learners. In this context, the advantage of OERs lies in the fact that they are licensed in a way that allows for easy re-use and customization without being encumbered by copyright restrictions. Furthermore, the survey revealed that there is a need to develop case studies showcasing the process of creating accessible OERs (including actual model examples of accessible resources) in order to illustrate ways in which the needs of diverse types of learners and users of OERs can be met. The case studies would help raise awareness about accessible e-learning practice and ideally would include recommendations for subject matter experts as well as OER support staff. This is where I am next headed with my work on the ActOER (Accessibility Challenges and Techniques for Open Educational Resources) project whose


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aim is to identify, explore and test Open Educational Resources (OER) with students with disabilities to provide empirical evidence of the accessibility of OERs, and assist with the update of solutions which most benefit the community of tutors and developers (http://actoer.referata.com/). The project is taking place between June-December 2012, and early findings should be available from October onwards from project wiki (http://actoer.referata.com/). Related resources: Gruszczynska, A. (2011). Accessibility issues in the

context of UK Open Educational Resources programme. Available here: http://tiny.cc/pjcalw Gruszczynska, A. (2012). Accessibility and Open Educational Resources survey report. Available here: http://tiny.cc/7mcalw

Links and resources collated for the ACTOER project: http://tiny.cc/ltcalw For more information, contact Anna Gruszczynska a.gruszczynska@shu.ac.uk

Did you know? There is a range of online tools that help you to create OERs with accessibility in mind. For example: 1. Xerte: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/xerte/ 2. Accessibility Passport: http://www.accessibilitypassport.org/

Flexible Learning for Open Education: One-Size-Fits-One Learning Prof. Jutta Treviranus, Director – Inclusive Design Research Centre and Inclusive Design Institute, OCAD University Learners are diverse. As a society we need diversity in transitional times to improve our ability to innovate, plan and predict and to foster resiliency and flexibility. To prosper we need to enable the participation of all our members. We are in transitional times, yet most of our educational practices are suited to another era. They are designed to produce a standard learner, to impose singular conceptions of quality or perfection, and to educate only those that can adequately adapt to the educational experience offered. This produces and ever-growing number of disengaged or

marginalized learners at a time when we need engagement and inclusion, contributing to the current economic and social consequences evident in the press. The roots of this transition also provide us with the means to sustainably design our education to support all learners better and thereby foster the diverse perspectives and skills, and the associated collective creative responsiveness we need now. These qualities include the comparative mutability of digital systems, and the ability to pool and share resources through global networks.

Policies and legislation in most educational jurisdictions require accessible curriculum for students with disabilities. Unfortunately, we apply a “cookie cutter” approach to serving this extremely heterogeneous group of students, failing to recognize the relative nature of disability.

CC-BY-NC, by yennyo (http://www.flickr.com/photos/24849304@N00/)


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Rather than supporting diversity-friendly education, these approaches often present hurdles to innovation and the diverse contributions we need. We know from experience and research that learners learn best when education is customized to their individual needs. The FLOE project (Flexible Learning for Open Education, http://floeproject.org) harnesses the transformability of digital resources, and the collective production enabled by global networks, to make it possible to sustainably deliver personally-customized educational experiences to each learner, and address barriers to accessibility without constraining curriculum innovation. FLOE supports learners in discovering how they learn

best, stating this as a machinereadable preference statement, and uses these personal preference statements to match each learner’s declared needs. OER (Open Education Resources) are transformed (e.g., adjusting presentation style, layout, organization, format, etc.), augmented (e.g., adding captions, descriptions, learner scaffolds, etc.) or substituted (i.e., with matching resources that meet the same learning goal), and user interfaces reconfigured, to optimize the learning experience for each learner. Together with ISKME, FLOE is developing an OER authoring tool that supports the creation of transformable OER. In addition, FLOE captures and uses feedback regarding the success of the match to refine the learner’s preference statement and successive

matches. This provides a dynamic research engine to fill a critical knowledge gap regarding marginalized learners, who constitute the outliers or “noise” in most educational data sets. Finally, FLOE is also developing a “pull” system by reaching out to the online community to supply missing resources needed to match learner needs, such as captions, descriptions, file conversions or alternative apps. This produces training and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth and emerging economies. These FLOE functions are open source components that can be integrated into any OCW service. FLOE is supported by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation For more information, contact Prof. Jutta Treviranus jtreviranus@faculty.ocadu.ca

A Call to Action in Higher Education: Opening a Dialogue for Improved Access for All Mark A. Riccobono, Executive Director, Jernigan Institute National Federation of the Blind This is a call to the university and college leaders of the open courseware and open education community. The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) needs your help to reverse the unsettling trend of using inaccessible technology in Higher Education. By combining our efforts, harnessing your previous commitment to accessibility for

all, and innovating new approaches, we are certain to improve educational opportunities for all students and faculty. Founded in 1940, the NFB is a membership organization of blind people in the United States and it serves as a vehicle for collective action by the blind. The NFB spends

considerable resources to help advance opportunities and accessibility through a variety of means. This includes objectively evaluating technology, promoting accessibility standards and design, supporting innovations to advance new approaches, and finding and sharing best practices related to accessibility.


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CC-BY-SA by AtomDocs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/atomdocs/

You can learn more about the NFB by visiting www.nfb.org. During the past decade, the NFB has been increasingly focused on closing the digital divide. That is the divide that is caused by the increasing use of technologies that are not designed from the beginning with accessibility for blind people and others with disabilities. Recently, we have been intrigued by the open movement in education because it aims to provide access to education and educational materials to more individuals. For example, earlier this summer, we helped to launch http://oeraccess.merlot.org in support of greater sharing of information around accessibility of open resources and courses. Technology is transforming the delivery of educational content and the management of academic services at a rapid pace. Open educational resources (OERs) are at the forefront of this transformation. And, while this transformation offers the promise of improved access to education for more learners, the reality is that technologies are being widely deployed that greatly restrict access for many students.

According to the 2011 report of the Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities (http://www2.ed.gov/about/bds comm/list/aim/publications.htm l) 10.8% of all U.S. postsecondary students have a reported disability and "there are researchers who believe that this number may be low due to the trend of students with non-apparent disabilities—learning, attention-deficit, mental health and other conditions— choosing not to disclose their disabilities to their respective institutions." The Commission’s report provides further detail on the extent of the technology barriers in higher education. For example, consider a recent case settled with Florida State University where two blind students faced considerable problems with technologies, which completely prevented them from participating in math courses (http://www.nfb.org/node/913). It is unconscionable that two decades after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (http://www.ada.gov/), students and faculty at institutions of higher education are worse off because of the inaccessible technology they encounter. If this trend is left to continue, the retrofitting of inaccessible technologies will cost institutions more than the old system, and will increase the risk of exposure to civil rights violations. Technology in General (and

OERs specifically), is the next milestone in educational equality. As the systemic shift toward integrating accessibility occurs, more students and more faculty members will have real access to crucial information. The higher education campus will be a more open, collaborative, and powerful center of learning. Universities will see significant decreases in the time, effort, and money being allocated to achieve an equal education for individuals with disabilities. Together, we can effectively create this reality by developing a plan of action that allows each higher education institution to align its unique assets behind this common goal.

CC-BY-NC by New Jersey State Library: http://www.flickr.com/photos/njlibraryevents/

A strong example of the type of bold leadership required in this area is observed at Oregon State University (OSU). OSU has established a set of policies and plans and a website has been launched to present those plans and facilitate dialogue about the practices being employed: http://oregonstate.edu/accessi bility/


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Despite the considerable resources that the NFB has dedicated to this concern, it has become clear that the problems that result from inaccessible technologies in education will multiply unless we can get a core group of college and university presidents to give this topic focused attention. Our experiences leads us to the

conclusion that, together with a core of higher education leaders, we will be able to get tremendous movement on accessibility from the technology marketplace and find systemic solutions that will more effectively serve students and faculty. We are prepared to put resources into developing a collaborative plan with college and university

leaders that will help us move from the uncertain environment of today to the fully accessible educational programming of tomorrow. Those interested in advancing the dialogue about how accessibility can be effectively built into educational technology and OERs can contact the author at +1-(410) 659-9314 or mriccobono@nfb.org.

California Community Colleges: Striving Towards Accessible and Open James Glapa-Grossklag, Dean – Educational Technology, Learning Resources, and Distance Learning, College of the Canyons Una Daly, Community College Outreach Director, OCW Consortium As the largest system of higher education in the United States, California Community Colleges (CCC) have a long history of expanding educational opportunities to millions of students. The focal points of the CCC mission are to prepare students to transfer to four-year colleges and universities, provide workforce development, and to offer basic skills education. With a mission dedicated to serving so many people in so many ways, it should come as no surprise that the CCCs have played a leading role in both the open education movement and the commitment to accessibility for all students. The Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (http://oerconsortium.org/) (CCCOER) was founded in

July 2007 by the FoothillDeAnza Community College district, under the leadership of then Chancellor Dr Martha Kanter and then Trustee Hal Plotkin. While CCCOER has expanded and joined with the Open Courseware Consortium, its largest number of individual member colleges still comes from the CCCs. The commitment to accessibility for all students by CCC has an even longer history and can be seen reflected in these three statewide projects: The High Tech Center Training Unit (http://www.htctu.net/) of the CCC system office was established over twenty years ago in recognition that emerging technologies could improve the lives of students

with disabilities. Focusing on training faculty and staff to improve teaching skills related to assistive computer technology, alternate media creation, and web accessibility, it provides regular trainings at the center and at campuses throughout CCC free of charge. The center provides ongoing support to staff who work with the many students requiring accommodations and posts tutorials and research findings related to accessibility at its website. Second, the @One project (http://www.onefortraining.org/ ) develops and delivers online training utilizing the latest technology to faculty from CCCs and around the US. Many colleges require that faculty complete a formal training program prior to


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teaching distance education classes. A popular option is for faculty to complete the @One Online Certification Program, which consists of five courses. One required course is “Designing Accessible Online Courses.” By taking this course, faculty learn the pertinent laws mandating accessibility in education as well as the needs of the many students with disabilities. Participants gain an overview of assistive technology and identify the major resources available to help them design and develop an accessible online class. Finally, the Distance Education Captioning and Transcription grant program (DECT) - http://tiny.cc/yolalw offers a way to make media used in distance education accessible to all students. When a video, for example, is used in a distance education class, it must be captioned in order for students with visual or hearing impairments to fully access the content. Captioning can be an expensive process, costing perhaps $5.00 US per minute. At a time when faculty and students utilize more and more video content, dozens of classes using video can add up to hundreds of minutes and thousands of dollars very quickly. The CCC system office has dedicated funding to be used to offset these costs for colleges through the DECT grant, which is administered by College of the Canyons. For more information, contact James Glapa-Grossklag or Una Daly.

OER and Accessibility: Building a Community of People and Collection of Accessible Resources Gerry Hanley, Sr. Director, Academic Technology Services, California State University; Executive Director, MERLOT Access to open educational resources (OER) is growing but not for all. Not only do the online educational materials need to be freely available and with permission to use, the OER needs to be designed so people with disabilities can use the OER for their teaching and learning as well. The California State University (CSU), MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching), Open Courseware Consortium (OCWC), the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), and Flexible Learning for Open Education (FLOE) have partnered together on a joint mission to

enable the community of accessible technology experts, advocates, and users to build an online community and collection of open education resources that can improve universal learning by facilitating the contribution and sharing of accessible technology information, expertise, and accessible online teaching and learning materials. To advance our mission of accessibility and OER, we created an accessible, online community website by leveraging MERLOT’s open educational services, http://oeraccess.merlot.org.

Did you know? Disability is the umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions, referring to the negative aspects of the interaction between an individual (with a health condition) and that individual’s contextual factors (environmental and personal factors) Page 3, World Report on Disability, http://tiny.cc/fa0alw Generalizations about “disability” or “people with disabilities” can mislead. Persons with disabilities have diverse personal factors with differences in gender, age, socioeconomic status, sexuality, ethnicity, or cultural heritage. Pages 7, World Report on Disability, http://tiny.cc/fa0alw


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The community website delivers fours services: 1. FINDING OER WITH ACCESSIBILITY INFORMATION: Both students and teachers looking for accessible OER will be able to find OER that includes some information about the accessibility of the resource. The webpage enables users to browse easily through the filtered MERLOT collection, from Arts to Zoology, and display materials that have some information about the accessibility and/or accessibility support for the materials (see http://oeraccess.merlot.org/finding_materials/index.html). 2. CONTRIBUTING ACCESSIBILITY INFORMATION AND ACCESSIBLE OERs: MERLOT has a user-friendly accessibility framework for OERs in its digital library services (see http://oeraccess.merlot.org/contribute_expertise/evaluation.html for details). This service enables registered MERLOT members (it’s FREE) to contribute information about 1 to 15 accessibility aspects that would help an OER user with disabilities decide for themselves if the resource is accessible for them. 3. MEMBER CAN CONTRIBUTE EXTERNAL ACCESSIBILITY EVALUTIONS: MERLOT’s accessibility framework enables members to enter the URL into the accessibility information for an OER. Nearly 100 open textbooks have external accessibility evaluations contributed by OCWC’s Community College Consortium for OER (see http://www.merlot.org/merlot/materials.htm?materialType=Open%20Textbook). 4. FINDING ACCESSIBILITY RESOURCES, EXPERTS, and EXPERT ORGANIZATIONS/CENTERS: We realize that institutions and individuals need experts and expertise to design and implement successful accessible technology projects. To help you find accessible technology consultants and resources, we provide information (available on MERLOT’s website) about: a.

b. c. d. e. f. g.

Accessibility Centers and Organizations (http://tiny.cc/srxalw) with capabilities focused on accommodation services, alternative media production, assistive technologies, product accessibility testing, training and professional development on accessibility, and university design for learning. Accessibility Tools (http://tiny.cc/5sxalw) for authoring, conversion, and evaluation Assistive Technologies (http://tiny.cc/iuxalw) Institutional Polices and Strategies (http://tiny.cc/lvxalw) on Accessibility Technical Guidelines and Standards (http://tiny.cc/lwxalw) on Accessibility Training and Professional Development (http://tiny.cc/vxxalw) resources on accessibility Universal Design for Learning (http://tiny.cc/tyxalw)

The OER-Accessibility community and collection can grow through your participation. It is EASY and it is FREE. What can you do? 1) 2) 3) 4)

REGISTER Your Accessibility Organization (http://tiny.cc/s0xalw)! REGISTER Yourself with your Accessibility Expertise (http://tiny.cc/t1xalw)! CATALOG Accessible OER (http://tiny.cc/p2xalw)! JOIN The Online Conversations on OER and Accessibility (http://tiny.cc/v3xalw)!

For more information, contact Gerry Hanley – ghanley@calstate.edu or Una Daly – unatdaly@ocwconsortium.org


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Consortium News and Updates Please visit our website for news links and blogs to keep up with what is happening in OER around the world. Better yet, you can like us on Facebook (OCWConsortium) or follow us on Twitter (OCW News) to be updated in real time. If you have something to share email us at: newsletter@ocwconsortium.org or feedback@ocwconsortium.org and let us know! Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) October 9 Webinar: “OER Faculty Development: Three Successful Models” Please join us Tuesday, October 9, 1:00 pm Eastern to hear about three different but successful faculty development models for encouraging the use of open textbooks and open educational resources (OER) to improve instructional outcomes at community

colleges. Models focused on finding, creating, and sharing OER for courses that are currently being taught. More information is available here: http://tiny.cc/2owalw Reminder: A Call for Proposals to host OCWC 2014 Global conference is open! The deadline for submitting applications is October 31, 2012. The application form can be downloaded here: http://tiny.cc/2swalw

We welcome these new members to the Community Institutional University of Leuven (KU Leuven) http://www.kuleuven.be, Belgium Corporate Cisco Systems Australia Pty Ltd http://www.cisco.com/web/ ANZ/index.html, Australia

OpenCourseWare Consortium PO Box 251, Newton, MA 02464, USA www.ocwconsortium.org feedback@ocwconsortium.org

Activities of the OpenCourseWare Consortium are supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, member dues, and contributions from our sustaining members: The African Virtual University | China Open Resources for Education | Fundação Getulio Vargas - FGV Online | Delft University of Technology| Japan OpenCourseWare Consortium | Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health | Korea OpenCourseWare Consortium| Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Netease Information Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd. | Open Universiteit (the Netherlands) | Tecnológico de Monterrey| Taiwan OpenCourseWare Consortium |Tufts University | UNIVERSIA| Universidad Politécnica de Madrid | University of California, Irvine | University of Michigan | University of the Western Cape

OCW Consortium Newsletter_September 2012  

OCW Consortium September Newsletter focusing on OER and Accessibility

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