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H810 – What is it? (A2.2)

September 30, 2010

We were asked to read Chapter 1 and part of Chapter 2 form Seale’s (2006) book E-learning and disability in Higher Education (HE).

According to Seale , all the players in accessible online learning have their own perspective and their own story to tell. My perspective of the story is that each person has its own individuality and act, react and perceive online learning differently. Each person has different needs and interests, so a ‘one-fits-all’ approach is not appropriate. I am teaching healthcare and one learning area is the care of disabled people. Accessibility is always a subject, especially when discussing how their access might change when they would accidentally become a student with a physical disability and be bound to a wheelchair.

For me as an online learner there are more benefits studying this course online, because otherwise I would be not able attend this course, working full-time as a teacher. I also see as a benefit, meeting students with other backgrounds and that I get to know how disability and accessibility is handled in their countries, in their workplaces. This helps me to broaden my perspective and to compare it with my practice and subsequently facilitate my personal and professional development. Studying already the fifth year with the OU I was pretty sure that I can cope with studying online, I am relative tech-savvy, and learned how to communicate quite effectively online.

I would use the ostrich head-in-the-sand policy as metaphor, hopping that the cup is taken away from them/us to describe my and my colleagues current attitude regarding finding solutions to accessibility problems.

Attending a conference about making online learning accessible I would wish to get as much detailed information as possible that will help me to inform or change my practice. For example, which tool, service or software is needed to allow access for someone with a certain disability, how good are these tools, how did other students with that disability experienced that tool.

Disabled students might fear bemusement, disadvantages, reluctance and discomfort from tutor and their peers. Though it should not matter whether one, ten or more disabled students are registered on a course as institutions suppose to anticipate need, can I imagine that as greater the number of disabled students, as greater the imperative for institutions to act.

Until recently I thought keeping a low profile would be best, but Richardson’s (2008) statement that our ‘digital footprints’ of who we are, what we do, and by association, what we know, are becoming increasingly important to our lives, convinced me to be more explicit and to be better found in a Google-search, than not to be found. 

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