Week 6 674

Essential Question: What assistive or adaptive tools could be helpful as I create my online courses?

There are so many tools out there that can be helpful when you create an online course. Web 2.0 tools are designed for sharing media. YouTube can be used for videos, and there is a similar site for teachers called TeacherTube http://www.teachertube.com. There are also sites that make it easy to share photos, like http://www.flickr. com, and multimedia, like www.voicethread.com (Moore, 2011).

There are social network sites such as Facebook, MySpace, or Ning. People use these sites to create personal profiles and share experiences with each other (Moore, 2011). Another Web 2.0 application is blogs, which we use in our classes now. Another network that can be used is Twitter, which I have also used in my classes before.

Bates (1990) provides the ACTIONS model for making decisions about the use of technology, suggesting that the factors to be considered can be summarized as follows:

A ccess: where will students learn?

C osts: what are capital and recurrent; fixed and variable?

T eaching functions: what are presentational requirements of the subject?

I nteraction: what kind of teacher and student interaction will be possible?

O rganization: what changes in organization will be required to facilitate the use of a particular technology?

N ovelty: will the“trendiness”of this technology stimulate funding and innovation?

S peed: how quickly and easily can material be updated and changed? How quickly can new courses be produced using this technology? (Moore, 2011)

As Moore (2011) notes, “There is no ‘rightʼ or ‘wrongʼ technology for distance education. Each medium and each technology for delivering it has its own strengths and weaknesses. One of the worst mistakes an organization or an instructor can make is to become committed to a single medium.” I think he is so correct on this. We should try to use a variety of tools in our classes. The more tools that you use, the more students you can reach. Not every student learns the same way, so you should try different methods for your diverse leaners.

Moore (2011) mentions Classroom 2.0 (www.classroom20.com), a social network designed for educators who want to learn more about Web 2.0 applications. It is free and uses the Ning social network tool. This might be helpful as well. “In setting up programs and designing courses, a basic principle of a systems approach is to recognize that each medium has its special strengths and weaknesses and that these must be considered when deciding how to deliver each part of the program or course to its particular target population” (Moore, 2011).

McCrea (2013) talks about using a standard keyboard, a Braille display, and Perky Duck, a six-key Braille emulator program, to input questions and answers that teachers read and respond to on screen. She also uses Sharepoint to record, upload, and share lectures, and is able to arrange all of her studentsʼ desktops on a monitor screen and provide instant feedback on their work. This is a great tool to use with students with this disability. American Institutes For Research also provide a free online toolkit for students with disabilities.

Elias (2010) presents eight universal instructional design principles of quality distance learning courses:

1Equitable use. Equitable use involves ensuring content is available to all learners.

2Flexible use. Flexible use involves offering content in multiple formats.

3Simple and intuitive. Designing simple and intuitive course experiences is more complex than it sounds.

4Perceptible information. Perceptible information involves enhancing content with descriptors, captions and transcriptions.

5Tolerance for error. Tolerance for error provides students the opportunity to easily correct errors.

6Low physical and technical effort. Incorporating browser checks to ensure functionality help in this regard.

7Community of learners and support. Good course design incorporates group learning and employs technology to facilitate those interactions at a distance.

8Instructional climate. Push regular reminders and questions to students and pull in learner-generated content. ( McCleary, 2013)

I think these offer good information to think about as you are preparing to design a course.

The article “8 Helpful ECE Technology Tools For Your Classroom” provided several good resources that can be used with students who need extra help.

1.  Screen Readers are described by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

as “software programs that allow blind or visually impaired users to read the text

that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer.”

2.  Word Talk is a free add-in for Microsoft Word, which can read aloud any

document written in Word and create audio files that can be saved.

3.  Word Prediction programs include a number of different applications, some of

which can be downloaded from the Internet, that are available to help students with

writing challenges.

4. Supernova Access Suite is “a complete screen reader with natural sounding

speech and integrated screen magnifier with Braille display support.” This product

can be downloaded from YourDolphin.com,

5.  Video Magnifiers are also sometimes described as a form of closed-circuit

television (CCTV) that “uses a video camera to display a magnified image on a

monitor or television screen.” Students with low vision can use them to read their

course materials with greater ease.

6.  Close Captioning and Subtitling: Services such as those provided by the CPC

company can be used on both Mac and Windows formats, and enable deaf students

to watch the same online video material as their colleagues.

7.   FaceMouse: For students with limited mobility, allowing students to use their

head and facial gestures to perform a number of tasks.

8.  Sip-and-Puff Systems: For students with mobility challenges, including

paralysis and fine motor skill difficulties, sip-and-puff systems allow users to

control a mouthstick, similar to a joystick, using their breath.

The article also listed, “The National Center on Universal Design for

Learning in the United States” as a good place to start. It is dedicated to

“creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for

everyone–not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that

can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.”

These are many resources that could be helpful when creating an online

course. They are also helpful in general. I have learned about some sites that I can

use with some of my students who need extra help.


Bates, A. W. (1990). Application of New Technologies (Including Computers) in Distance Education: Implications for the Training of Distance Educators.

Corry, M. (2008). Quality in distance learning.Distance Learning,5(1), 88-91.

Elias, T. (2010). Universal instructional design principles for Moodle. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 11(2).Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/869

McClary, J. (2013). Factors in High Quality Distance Learning Courses. Retrieved October 09, 2016, from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer162/mcclary162.html

McCrea, B. (2013). Who’s Serving Online Learning’s Forgotten Students? — THE Journal. Retrieved October 09, 2016, from https://thejournal.com/Articles/2013/10/17/Whos-Serving-Online-Learnings-Forgotten-Students.aspx?Page=3

Moore, M. (2011). Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning, 3rd Edition. Retrieved October 12, 2016.

8 Helpful Assistive Technology Tools For Your Classroom. (2015). Retrieved October 09, 2016, from http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/technology/8-helpful-assistive-technology-tools-for-your-classroom/


4 thoughts on “Week 6 674

  1. Thank you for all of the tools that can be used in online courses to be able to hit a large diverse student group. One thing I would like to add to keep in mind with almost all of these tools is that it will take a good amount of time to learn each one of them especially the students. What I always keep in mind that the amount of time that it will take a student to learn a new tool is about 2-3 times longer than it took for me to learn. There might need to be a lot of questions and testing for the tool and this might be with a student especially if it is assistive technology.


  2. This is a great resource. I’ll also keep this handy. Thanks. Edmodo is a great social networking site used for education. I like your point, there’s no right or wrong for technology in distance education. With the growing list out there, it’s important to use what works for your situation.

    Liked by 1 person

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