Xertes 2 has lost this. I’ve been told this is now html5 rather than Flash but the Tooltip function on the images isn’t working – not is the magnifier – at least, not in Chrome and I haven’t seen any browser preference specified. whether I select Default, Full Screen, or Fit Window, the size remains 800 x 600 – unless I alter the Embed Code (see second example). I may need to experiment more with sizing when creating content – I worry this is another example of the invisibility of digital divides and prevalence of the tripartite MEE Model of computer access; Mouse, Eyes, Ears. Accessibility features need to be visible and at first sight this looks like a loss rather than gain.
In Week 4 we’ve been sharing pedagogical patterns, engaging with the BOTWOO concept (Building On The Work Of Others), been patronised (‘This is what we all do as researchers, but do much less as teachers. Teachers don’t find it that easy’) and partially ignored (many in the DIY Multimedia group and in Cloudworld are learning designers external to education; I’m in HE but not a ‘teacher’. The diversity of participants seems unrecognised yet we’ve agreed on the importance of designing for your audience and learner context in week 3. It’s been a good week – honestly – but maybe not in terms of MOOCing. I don’t mean to be grumpy – but OLDsMOOC is reinforcing some of my attributions and I never like it when that happens. In Week 4 I investigated the PPC Pedagogical Patterns Collector using the Pedagogical Patterns Collector guide but didn’t get very far – other than finding myself here in Week 5 and looking at making prototypes of my learning activities. Now we have moved into the realms of fantasy. I don’t know how to access to a programmer but I know I want one!!!
As if this were not enough cause for frustration, then the Wk 5 video transcript simply depressed me. I wanted to capture the part of the Week 5 video where DL compares ‘...something you can do yourself like a PowerPoint or sequence in Moodle‘ to how you communicate your idea for a digital design to a programmer. I thought this was a useful reminder of the digital divide between technologists and the day to day experience of most academic staff, but got sidetracked on finding the transcript is an image and this defeats the objective of providing one. Week 4 transcript was pdf. Not ideal but it could be copied into Word albeit with inconvenient line breaks. Text as an image is useless and misunderstands the potential of digitally inclusive practice. http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/HTML/wiki/Media_Accessibility_User_Requirements
In DIY Multimedia we’ve stressed the importance of alternative formats from the beginning and it’s been reassuring to share awareness of the importance of this element of learning design. Providing digital content in a single fixed format assumes the MEE Model of computer access where users work via a Mouse for navigation and their eyes and ears for images and sound. This fails to reflect the diversity of ways people use computers and access the internet but the MEE Model underpins 99% of digital content. Learning designers have a critical role to play in challenging the limitations of single formats while championing the inherent flexibility of digital data to be customised to suit individual requirements.
One of my many problems with MOOCs is the divide between their potential and the reality. I blogged last week on the EPIC 2020 and Turning Point 2012 videos which present the threat posed through mass education by MOOCs. Back in the late 1980’s, the founders of the internet heralded the internet’s potential for democratic access. This isn’t happening and some days trying to keep inclusive practice high on the agenda feels like hard work.
Condensing the complexity of digital literacies is always a challenge. At the recent Student Staff Conference on Future Learning, I reduced them to professional practice with social media and how SM might best support teaching and learning. SM and the use of mobile technology has relevance for learning design. It can be disconcerting when an audience appears engrossed in their digital devices but banning them is not the answer. Finding ways to maintain engagement with the subject matter while constructing an agreed code of conduct is more realistic.
This short video on the potential of digital technologies for education is a useful introduction to the concept of digital natives and immigrants. First outlined by Prensky in 2001, the digital dichotomy is now acknowledged as more complex than division by age and more related to use e.g. the CIBER report on the research skills of young people and Carr’s polemic Is Google Making us Stupid.
A decade after Prensky, learning design has shifted from constructivism to connectivism, with both support and critique, but also some consensus. When it comes to technologies, education is less about the tools and more how they’re used. With regard to social media the debate includes appropriate and inappropriate behaviours, in particular in lectures and seminars. Wherever learning design incorporates ‘real-time’ collaboration and/or interaction via social media it raises issues like shopping on eBay or personal tweeting irrelevant to the subject. This is part of the wider digital debate around personal versus public online identities, which in itself is only one component of digital literacies. An agreed code of conduct may be one way forward. Most discussion forums now include guidelines for appropriate use and behaviour and finding consensus on the use of mobile technology in teaching and learning is no different to agreeing capital letters equate to shouting and personal abuse will not be tolerated.
Digitally literacies are embedded in individual personalities making it hard to pull out a one size fits all model of use. New technologies amplify the affordances of traditional tones like pen and paper. We all doodle in learning situations. Doodling in itself can be a form of reflective practice. Today there are more choices on the formats that doodling can take and learning design learning needs to take the ever changing nature of ways of being, seeing and doing into account.
The design of learning is a continually evolving science, not least because space between users and non-users still exists. Replication and reinforcement of digital divides is less visible, but in the push to use social media to empower student voices and flip the classroom, technology remains exclusive. In an increasingly digital society enabling/disabling binaries are more relevant than ever. The potential for digital exclusion should not be forgotten.
I write about digital identity and the permanence of our digital footprints, but it seems the government has no problem in making digital content disappear. All links to the Government’s Manifesto for a Networked Nation are redirecting to Go On at http://www.go-on.co.uk/index.php
Go On is the replacement for the Race Online 2012 website, designed to champion digital inclusion, but none of the content has transferred across, including the Manifesto. This is unfortunate. It’s now difficult to find ‘official’ reference to those sectors of the population considered up until recently to be digitally excluded.
Early research data can be found in the Labour government’s Digital Britain reports; these can still be found in the national web archives. The Manifesto has vanished. It’s not the first time I’ve had problems revisiting content online. Last year a new report targeting ‘hard to reach’ sections of the population divided digital exclusion into three categories; young, old and those in between. It rightly identified cost and motivation as drivers but omitted disability or assistive technologies, which cut across all age ranges and constitute a major cause of exclusion from increasingly digital lifestyles. This ‘hard to reach’ document is currently living up to its name.
In George Orwell’s ‘1984’, Winston Smith is employed as a government bureaucrat tasked with rewriting history. What was true one day was changed the next, along with all references to the event. It’s not a fictional fancy to see how those with the relevant levels of access and controls could write the scripts which alter history at the click of a key. Now, if anyone can find a digital link to the manifesto….
Sleepio is an online sleep improvement program based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The site includes videos hosted by Vimeo and they all have the standard user control bar with stop, play and pause buttons enabling the user to – stop, play and pause. This makes all the more frustrating that the Sleepio animated environment itself has none of the these essential components. The only way is exit.
You can’t jump back to listen again, increase the animation text size and there are no alternative format such as subtitles, captions or a transcript.
Sleepio wants your money. There are a number of ways to pay for the program. Costs include an online community and online tools, all of which appear within the animation format. But it is only available to those with the prerequisite means of access.
This site is an example of the inaccessible nature of the world wide web/internet and how discriminatory online environments are becoming. This isn’t a case of being pedantic, or poor use of time in scoping the images on the site, it’s about fundamental equality legislation which is increasingly invisible in the design and delivery of online information.
The Guardian today carries an article on insomnia which is a thinly disguised advertisement for the Sleepio product. Maybe the Guardian itself should adopt a position of greater responsibility and refuse to promote websites which fail such basic accessibility requirements. It’s time someone in a position to be influential addresses the issue of digital literacies which fail to address digital exclusion.
Talking to a group of level three online-journalism students about digital divides. The group made accurate suggestions for what digital divides might look like, including incompatible file formats, unequal access to computers in different parts of the world and people having access problems with content. All perfect examples of digital inequities and discrimination.
I’m suggesting it’s the responsibility of the Web Workers (eg developers, designers, content creators etc) to ensure accessibility and a student asks if accessibility should be the responsibility of the user instead. That’s a really good question. We all want to be independent and in control of our lives via all the appropriate tools. In an increasingly digital society, we want equal access to online communication, information and entertainment. So should web workers design content to be accessible, or should the technology have an interface which translates the digital data uploaded by the developer into customised content for the user?
The BBC My Display http://www.bbc.co.uk/accessibility/mydisplay/ trial seemed to be a step in this direction. My Display encouraged users to customise the text and colours to suit their own preferences, with these choices being stored as a cookie for the next time.
Multiple reasons given for the My Display trial being withdrawn. These included the new and unexpected complexity of digital resources, content being delivered by IP on multiple platforms, operating systems and browsers delivering more customisation features, cloud computing requiring bigger solutions and the move from static webpages to database driven webs with live feeds and richer interactions. The list goes on and the conclusion was the My Display trials were neither flexible nor scaleable enough ‘to cope with the growth, technical diversity and ambition of the BBC’s digital services’.
So although we have the access technology to ensure 100% accessibility on the part of the user, it looks like we are moving even further away from the focus on accessible content. This is close to other recent developments which try to shift responsibility for access onto the user. The re is the growing expectation that people should adjust their browser settings and the move towards directing users to separate accessibility web pages; ‘solutions’ which assume a confidence and competence with navigation, form fields and web jargon which many simply haven’t got. These answers are as unworkable as the My Display solution. At the present time it looks like it keeps coming back to the need for inclusive digital content in the first place.
It began in a small Yorkshire town with a 30 inch monitor and large screen magnification. The intention was to register with the Tesco Online Shopping site The expectation was half an hour maximum to work alongside Marian who has limited vision and is new to using the Internet.
Step 1 the registration process: enter the email address, postcode and clubcard number. We’re using the clubcard number on a Tesco.com card and will be coming back to this later. At this point I would like to say to Tesco that the link entitled ‘Need Help Registering’ sounds like it is offering ‘real’ help not just a couple of lines of text explaining email means enter your email address.
Step 2: lots of drop down menus with red asterisks marking compulsory fields. The explanation is in tiny letters at the bottom of the page. Easy to miss especially if you are new to online forms. Name ok. Address not ok. The screen should look like this.
But with high magnification it looks like this
Unable to read the text, or access the drop down function at the end of the form field, this is the point where the mission to register fails – or would do without someone to provide support – which sort of misses the point of accessible online environments enabling personal independence.
There are elements of this page which I like. The text resizes well. The forms fields change colour when active. This is useful and more sites should offer it. I liked how we were sent back to the spot where content had been incorrectly entered and the form fields were clearly highlighted in red with red text instructions. However, the choice of red is unfortunate. I genuinely felt I was being told off for getting it wrong.
Finally we had to agree to the terms and conditions. This posed another problem. The only visible button said No.
You might not think this is a problem but it is. Firstly, how can you tell there is a Yes button hidden on the right. You can’t know what you don’t know. Plus the scroll bars are tiny and merge into the task bar with insufficient colour contrast. Both buttons closer together would be a small step which makes a big difference to the usability of this page.
Having located the button we get a message saying Sorry we are unable to process your registration. We are having a problem with the site and are hoping to fix it soon. Or words to that effect. Unfortunately, there is no way of saving the information so at some point it is all going to have to be keyed in again. It was a disappointing to say the least.
Next: Tesco Online Shopping ‘The Saga’ Part 2.
Great day for digital inclusion – or it would be if only the media would report on it. Neil Lewis Chief Executive of AbilityNet has highlighted the need for addressing inclusion because of the government’s ‘digital by default’ campaign. I’ve searched on the BBC, Guardian, Telegraph and even the Daily Mail websites but the news doesn’t seem to got there yet. (incidently the Daily Mail returns no instances of AbilityNet which suggests it has never referred to the issue of digital exclusion – shame on you!)
This lack of media awareness is critical. The government’s intention for access to information and delivery of services to be ‘digital by default’ is simply not getting enough publicity; in particular with regard to those 8-9 million citizens the government has identified as digitally excluded.
How is the population being told of the move towards an online welfare state?
How will they find out about the plans to merge all benefits into a single Universal Credit to be applied for, awarded and managed online – unless the media pick it up and run with it?
The government is building a new computer system for this in spite of the failure of the NHS IT project the damming evidence in the System Error report which suggests ‘digital by default’ has all the potential for creating a new digital divide, one which will affect some of the most marginalised sections of society.
If you are digitally excluded you are invisible by default. As the platforms for discussion and debate become increasingly digital so those without access are being denied participation. Last week I spoke to a local group of webdevelopers, and yesterday to a group of Year 1 Social Work students, about the social impact of a digital society. We have to keep chipping away at the mountain of invisibility in order to surface these issues. Social media is one of the best places to begin. Blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking – we need to get the message out there so those who have the power to make a difference can start to do so.
The phrase digital literacies is currently here, there and everywhere. 13 JISC projects have been funded under the JISC Grant 4/11 Digital Literacies Call and there is the further invitation from JISC to selected organisations to submit bids to support the JISC Developing Digital Literacies (DDL) Programme. All great opportunities for successful institutions to get digital literacies on the agenda and establish a whole institution approach to engaging, enhancing and embedding those capabilities which are so essential for living and working in a digital society.
Defining digital literacies is not easy. In their Grant 4/11 Call, JISC propose a neutral definition which follows the lead of the European Union and the JISC-funded LLiDA project: ‘ digital literacy defines those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society’ JISC go on to list a range of literacies including ICT/computer/information and media literacies along with communication and collaboration, digital scholarship, learning skills and life planning – all having relevance within higher education. Interestingly there is no explicit reference to digital literacies as social practices.
In August I submitted a bid ‘Getting Started with OER’ under the HEA/JISC UK OER Phase 3 Programme Strand 3: Embedding OER Practice in Institutions. The bid aimed to align the strategic embedding of OER with Getting Started, the University of Lincoln’s institution-wide initiative designed to support the student transition into higher education. Using an existing project as a vehicle is viewed as a strength and there’s no doubt it offers ready made opportunities for embedding new ways of working, and promoting the behavioural shifts required for change. No surprise that my OERs would be concerned with digital literacies. The real surprise was the HEA saying too few applications had been received so they were looking at alternative ways to support the university in taking this bid forward.
I wonder how much the decision was influenced by the subject matter. So many assumptions are made about the digital confidence and competencies of both staff and students but the reality is the digital divide is increasing. As those comfortable with technologies for learning push off into the distance towards a brave new digital world, so even those with some experience are getting left behind. As for those yet to engage, the divide is becoming a potentially unbridgeable one.
The worry is the continual social shaping of digital technologies and the assumptions around too narrow a range of access criteria. While I’ve spoken about this within the community, in particular for users of assistive technology, I see it increasingly becoming an issue within the university. The sector focus on digital literacy is critical for both graduate attributes and teacher education – but care is needed that in this flush new world of cash for addressing digital literacies, the existing exclusive parameters of access are highlighted and challenged rather than replicated and reinforced.
Good checklist from WebAIM – worth printing and keeping as a reminder of the basics for digital design and development. Text version available here http://webaim.org/resources/designers/