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The proceedings of

การประชุมวิชาการระดับชาติดา นอีเลิรน นิง 2553 National e-Learning Conference 2010 “Enhancing the Quality of e-Learning”

วันที่ 10-11 สิงหาคม 2553 ณ โรงแรมวินเซอร สวีทส กรุงเทพฯ

จัดโดย


Integrate Web Accessibility Enhance Quality of e-Learning Poonsri Vate-U-Lan College of Internet Distance Education, Assumption University (poonsri.vate@gmail.com) facilities or political and security difficulties in the three provinces of the southern part of Thailand. Thus, the Integration of web accessibility in electronic learning material will surely offer a better opportunity not only for normal students but also for students with special needs in Thailand.

ABSTRACT The potential of e-Learning relies on many factors such as the readiness of Internet connectivity and accessibility of on-line content. E-Learning opportunities need to be extended for all, thus it seems necessary that the web administrator, instructional designer and e-Learning producer should learn, develop and disseminate web accessibility design rules for all electronic learning material. This paper will present the current opportunities that students with disabilities have in accessing e-Learning in a selected developing country, namely Thailand, where assistive technology is still limited. The study has collected information which described different projects implemented to support students with disabilities: list of existing resources for university students with disabilities, the policies and plans of both the government and private sectors in Thailand for supporting students with disabilities. It also includes a report on the responses of web administrators who have created e-Learning opportunities in secondary schools and universities in Thailand for these students. In theory web accessibility needs to be introduced and improved, especially regarding e-Learning; however in practice, there is no research studying web accessibility for disabled students and actual planning and practice available in Thailand. The Thai Government is promoting many projects to encourage people to access the Internet which means including people with disabilities. It is very obvious that assistive technology is in high demand in Thailand; the reasons for this are that computer technology and the Internet will play an important role for improving and enhancing quality of education for students with disabilities in developing countries like Thailand. Distance education can reduce barriers for people who live in rural area and have less opportunity to access knowledge in the traditional mode because of limited

Keywords e-Learning, e-Learning production, Instructional Designer, Learning Management System (LMS), Moodle, students with disabilities, students with special need, Internet-based survey, Thailand, web accessibility 1) INTRODUCTION “Do the job right the first time.” is an ideal to defect prevention and upgrade the quality of product (Crosby & Weiss, 2010). Higher education institutions where e-Learning already adopted into the system were very much concerned about quality of e-Learning. Integrate web accessibility to e-Learning definitely added value of education. The terms of ‘quality through e-Learning’ referred to potential of e-Learning which was able to increase educational opportunities for all (Ehlers, Goertz, Hildebrandt, & Pawlowski, 2005). Accessibility of e-Learning contents or in the other words, on-line course material was an important aspect of e-Learning quality (the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education, 2008). The reason for this was the concept of web accessibility itself that emphasized on the equal right of people to access to all available on-line information. The web accessibility procedure focused about how to create, design and develop web sites that usable by all people, which included people with disabilities. Therefore, it seems necessary that the web administrator, instructional designer and e-Learning producer should learn, develop and

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conditions and the environment in the multidimensional concept. It includes impairment of mind or body structure/functions which cause limitation in activities, a restriction in participation such as involvement in life situations such as work, social interaction and education, and the affected person’s physical and social environment.

disseminate web accessibility design rules for all electronic learning materials. In theory web accessibility needs to be introduced and improved, especially regarding e-Learning; however in practice, there was no research studying web accessibility for disabled students and actual planning and practice available in Thailand. The Thai Government is promoting e-Learning projects to offer variety options to educate people through the Internet which means including students with disabilities. The number of Thai Internet users who were seeking e-Learning courses was increasing dramatically. Thailand Cyber University, is an organization who response to provide on-line education for higher education in Thailand, have more than 44,318 members applied to participate in on-line courses in July 2008. Two years later, in July 2010, the numbers of members has been increased 64.5 per cent per year approximately, as recorded that there were 101,574 members applied (Thailand Cyber University, 2008, 2010). Interestingly, there was none of a study to record about how many Thai people with disabilities access to e-Learning and what kind disabilities. Thus, the Integration of web accessibility in electronic learning material will surely offer a better opportunity not only for normal students but also for students with special needs in Thailand.

Web accessibility has been introduced to be a standard across nations (Thompson, Burgstahler, Moore, Gunderson, & Hoyt, 2007), thus it was necessary to implicate to be a standard of e-Learning. The statistic indicated less than 15 per cent of people were born with their disability, later in life there are hundreds of different kinds of disabilities (Weir, 2010). The numbers of people with learning disabilities were increasing by many reasons. The form of learning disability can be derived from characters of students which categorized into 3Ds groups (Robson, 2007): “A/Disabilities” refers to disabilities or impairments viewed in medical terms as organic disorders of students attributable to organic pathologies, “B/Difficulties” refers to behavioral or emotional disorders, or specific difficulties of students in learning and “C/Disadvantages” refers to disadvantages arising primarily from socio-economic, cultural, and/or linguistic factors of students. Situation of assistive technology in Thailand was similar to other developing countries; there were both web accessibility policy and assistive technology support projects. Ministry of Information and Communication Technology Thailand (2008) for example, conducted ‘Web Accessibility Contest’ as a part of ICT Equitable Society Project which introduced and encouraged web masters to concerned web accessibility. There was also an annual contest for innovative technologies and applications for people with disabilities in Thailand (NECTEC, 2008). Disabilities rights have been provisioned on the section 55 of Thailand’s former constitution; however, most people with disabilities did not yet have full benefits from the law (Anantho, 2007). Education has been concerned as one of top five social risks among

This paper will present the current opportunities that students with disabilities have in accessing e-learning in a selected developing country, namely Thailand, where assistive technology was still limited. It includes a report on the responses of web administrators who have created e-Learning opportunities in secondary schools and universities in Thailand for these students. 2) LITERATURE REVIEWS The consequence of web accessibility occurred by the fact that all people include people with disability, have equal right to access to all kinds of information. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2010) ‘disability’ covers an interaction between health

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Thai people with disabilities since most people with disabilities were undereducated, especially the blind (Anantho, 2007). A strong need for better opportunity in education from Thai people with disability reflected from a better job required a better education (Anantho, 2007). In Thailand, people with disabilities were limited of job opportunities, health care, and adaptive equipments (Simchareon, 2005). There were only 20.39 per cent of people with disabilities employed after completed degrees in vocational education (Mahidol University, 1998 cited in Simchareon, 2005).

Bureau of Special Education Administration within Ministry of Education in Thailand (2008a), is the main department of the Thai Government that aims to serve basic education to people with disabilities and tailored special needs to fit individuals. This office provided 169 special education schools and centers that can be categorized into three groups: special education schools (43 schools in 35 provinces), special education centers (76 centers) and Suksasongkhro Schools for disadvantages students (50 schools in 42 provinces) (Bureau of Special Education Administration, 2008a). This bureau provided only two reports on Key Performance Indicator of Students Quality; 43 special education schools and 50 Suksasongkhro Schools but special education centers (76 centers). According to Bureau of Special Education Administration (2008b), in 2006 only 36.8 per cent (111 students) of students with disabilities in 43 special education schools were enrolled in post secondary education in Thailand. Thus, approximately three fifths (63.2% or 191) of students with disabilities in 43 special education schools were neither continue their education nor working. On the contrary, in 2006 almost nine tenths or 87.8 per cent (2,194 students) of students in 50 Suksasongkhro Schools were enrolled in post secondary education in Thailand (Bureau of Special Education Administration, 2008c). Thus only 12.2 per cent (304 students) in 50 Suksasongkhro Schools were neither continue their education nor working (Bureau of Special Education Administration, 2008c). According to this information, approximately three fifths or more than half of students under the service of Bureau of Special Education Administration continued study in Thai education system. Therefore, the demand of integrate web accessibility into e-Learning will be obviously benefit to students with special need since they were in the education system.

The evidences of students with disability in Thailand according to the Office of the Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education of Thailand (2006) report, there were 3,023 students in K-12 who were people with disabilities. Students with disabilities in Thailand included nine groups of disabilities: motor disabilities, blind or vision impairments, deaf or hard of hearing, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, autistic disorder, cognitive disabilities, verbal and linguistics disabilities, mental retardation and multiple disabilities (Office of the Basic Education Commission: Ministry of Education of Thailand, 2007). In Thailand, hill tribe students have been categorized into one of student group who had limited opportunities. Students with limited opportunities in Thailand included 11 kinds: youth forced to work, youth in sexual business, abandoned youth, youth in detention center, homeless youth, youth who affected from AIDS, hill tribes youth, youth who was mistreat, poor youth, youth who was addict to drugs and others (Office of the Basic Education Commission: Ministry of Education of Thailand, 2007). The Office of the Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education of Thailand (2006) reported only 513 students in K-12 who were hill tribes. There was none of report, paper or study of how many hill tribe students were enrolled in post secondary education in Thailand. However, in practice, it might be only few or none of students with limited opportunities in Thailand pass through the post secondary education level since the demand of work force in agriculture field.

The Commission on Higher Education of Thailand became aware of importance and right of people with disabilities in higher education levels since they need to have opportunities for

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learning material. In theory web accessibility need to be implemented especially in e-Learning section, however in practice, there is only few studies start to focus about situations of web accessibility in Thailand. Even though, the biggest groups or about seven tenths of Internet users in Thailand were in institutions (Vate-U-Lan, 2007). In summary, web accessibility is the global standard which extended its scope to cover e-Learning. In Thailand, there were approximately three fifths of students with special need enrolled into the formal education system. Moreover, 65 per cent of universities in Thailand had students with disabilities but only a small portion or one tenth of university had some responsible units for service these students.

education and facilities. In 2007, the first survey that gathering data regarding to support and develop service systems to serve students with disabilities in higher education had been conducted; this was to prepare necessary information for institutes in Thailand to improve education quality. According to the Commission on Higher Education of Thailand (2007), there were 1,928 university students with disabilities, male 60.3 per cent and female 39.7 per cent. These data were derived from 187 higher education institutes under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Higher Education of Thailand. Approximately three fifths (61.50% or 115 institutes) of institutes in Thailand participated to the survey. The summary of this report were 64.35 per cent of higher education institutes in Thailand had university students with disabilities. The majority of institutes in Thailand who participated in this survey also disclosed that approximately seven tenths (68.75%) had none administrative center responded to serve university students with disabilities. Remarkably, only one tenth of universities included services for students with disabilities in Student Affairs, Disability Support Service Office and Office of Educational Services (10.72, 9.82 and 9.82 % respectively). The Commission on Higher Education of Thailand indicated nine types of disabilities as same as Office of the Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education of Thailand which differ from general kinds of disabilities that can affect access to on-line information. The university students with motor disabilities were the biggest group (28.3 %) followed by blind or vision impairments (17%), deaf or hard of hearing (15.1%), attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (10.7%), autistic disorder (10.3%), cognitive disabilities (9%), verbal and linguistics disabilities (4.4%), mental retardation (3.3%) and multiple disabilities (2.1%) respectively.

3) RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Web administrators for e-Learning might be the most importation sectors who respond to create and provide accessible e-Learning. Thus the pioneer project using an on-line questionnaire which investigate situation of the usage of web accessibility features for e-Learning in Thailand has been conducted. The objective of this survey was to investigate opinion of e-Learning web administrator in Thailand about the usage of web accessibility. This current survey gathered data via on-line questionnaire in Thai. It was conducted during December 2007- February 2008. The invitation employ for this survey was a message posted on web sites where e-Learning web administrators visit regularly such as the resources web sites in open source of learning management systems, thai.moodle.net and similar on-line communities such as Thai educational technologist web sites. 4) RESULT AND DISCUSSION Participant’s profiles, there were 118 participated, 58.5 per cent were female and 41.5 per cent were male. Majority or seven tenths of the participants were web administrators for e-Learning who work in Bangkok, only three tenths lived in other

e-Learning opportunity need to be opened for all, thus web administrator, instructional designer and e-Learning production officers should educate, consider and perform web accessibility design rules for all electronic

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provinces (72.9% and 27.1% respectively). Similarly, majority or seven tenths (72%) of the participants were working in higher education institutions, only three tenths (28%) of participants working in a school level.

Use web accessibility 3%

Know web accessibility 30%

The questionnaire included questions regarding to the usage of Learning Management System (LMS) of Thai Internet-based instructional designers and web administrators of institutions. LMS is an on-line application management system which plays a role as a simulation of on-line virtual environment for on-line learners. LMS comprises of wide range of systems that provides access to Internet-based learning facilities such as deliver the learning materials, track and report results of on-line learning activities and communicate among learning communities. Typically, LMS is an on-line learning space constructed by web administrators for students and teachers use in academic purposes (Education Resources, 2006; Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open Knowledge Initiative, 2009; Ostyn Consulting, 2007). The demographic information of this survey found that half of participants (51%) have experiences in using LMS approximately one-three years. About two fifths (37.3%) of participants have experiences in using LMS less than one year. The last group about one fifth (19.5%) of participants have experiences in using LMS more than three years. Thus, it might be assumed that majority of participants have involved in product process of e-Learning sufficiently. Majority (54.2%) of participants indicated as MOODLE users, one fourth (25.4%) of participants used Blackboard and only few (5.1%) used ATutor. All the rest, which about one fifth of participants were using other kinds of LMS. The key finding of this survey is revealing in Figure 1, majority of participants did not know about web accessibility (67%). Only three tenths indicated that knew about web accessibility. Less than one fifth stated used web accessibility before. Remarkably, more than four fifths (83.1%) stated never used web accessibility before.

Do not know web accessibility 67%

Figure 1: Current situation of Web Accessibility The future directions of web accessibility of e-Learning in Thailand still not clear as shown in Figure 2. This is because slightly more than half of the web administrators working for e-Learning projects (55.9%) indicated that they will use features of web accessibility in LMS in the future. However, 43.2 per cent indicate not sure to use it and less than one per cent (0.8%) indicate will not use it. The influences of web administrator who indicated not sure about the usage of web accessibility on their work might affect situation of e-Learning contents to educate people with special need. Will not use 1%

Not sure 43% Will use 56%

Figure 2: Future situation of web accessibility The participants have been asked to describe about their experiences regarding to web accessibility. Majority (61.9%) stated clearly that they lack of knowledge of web accessibility. Almost half (48.3%) stated that it is very interesting but their lack of knowledge. About two fifths (39%) stated lack of time spend to learn what is web accessibility. 34.7 per cent indicated lack of understanding of web

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accessibility. About 16 per cent of participants indicated rationales that why they ignore web accessibility such as only few students were students with disabilities and misunderstood that applied web accessibility rule in the on-line projects required more time than usual. Almost 12 per cent stated that they lack of motivation to use it. Less than one tenth (8.5%) understood that web accessibility was complex. Interesting that only few per cent (3.4%) thought web accessibility was meaningless. Participants who indicated their own reasons were quite positive for example ‘it is very interesting to learn more but depending on time consuming and opportunity’.

open-ended question. The answer of the open-ended question can be categorized into three main groups; • There is a high demand of training in web accessibility for e-Learning • Students with disabilities have a right equal to all • On-line information of web accessibility should be developed and distributed. This should be implied that web accessibility for e-Learning was needed and should get support from both public and private sectors in Thailand. The implementation will be very useful to students with disability in Thailand.

The survey also included questions asked what will be the possible way to deliver knowledge on web accessibility for e-Learning to web administrator. Referring to Table 1, the most interesting option was a training follow by on-line self learning and onsite training plus help center (34.7, 33.9 and 21.2 % respectively). Less than one tenth (8.5%) preferred to attend seminar and workshop. These reasons reflected that web accessibility knowledge in Thailand was need and it should be provided in the blended mode which included both traditional training and on-line training.

5) CONCLUSION In conclusion, integrate web accessibility implementation will surely enhance quality of e-Learning and benefit to students with disabilities not only in Thailand but also other developing countries where similar situation occurred. However, many projects and supported policies might not enough since it is still in the early stage and lack of reliable data. Additionally, features of people with disabilities, types of disability and the usage of web accessibility for e-Learning in Thailand were not clear. This paper has been reported an on-line survey result of Thai web administrator who working for e-Learning projects. The finding indicated that knowledge of e-Learning production teams which included web administrators, instructional designers affect directly to integrate web accessibility to enhance the quality of e-Learning. The distribution of web accessibility training in both traditional and on-line method was the most important need to be considered. The connection between knowledge and attitudes of e-Learning production teams will play the significant role to expand better qualify of e-Learning.

Table 1: Delivery web accessibility method Options A training On-line self learning Onsite training plus help center Seminar and workshop

Percentage 34.7 33.9 21.2 8.5

All web administrators have been asked to indicate the factors that most influence to use web accessibility guideline to produce e-Learning projects in future. This question was a five-scale-rating. It has been found that the most influence factors was a moral support toward students with special need since society should not ignore students with disability (3.8 out of 5), and follow by commercial concern since it will extend more opportunity (3.6 out of 5). Then, the last influence was legal issue with punishment (2.9 out of 5).

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The last question on the survey was the

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Integrate Web Accessibility Enhance Quality of e-Learning