Accessibility in distance education : implements of universal design for learning

Ortiz, Tracie Renee
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2014]
In recent years, upward shifts by universities to encourage faculty to teach in an online environment has increased tremendously. Those taking online courses have increased as well. Growing audiences enrolled in online courses have resulted in a wider and more diverse group of learners all who which have the right to learn, regardless of the means. Therefore, how does one meet the needs of these diverse learners and create an accessible online environment? This question began the foundation for this research study. A treatment module was used to introduce basic applications of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles that could be utilized in an online environment. Through this mixed-method, multi-case study, analysis of interviews, observations, field notes, collected artifacts, and correspondence with participants, the purpose was to understand the awareness, aim, and efforts of best practices in applying UDL principles by faculty teaching in an online learning environment or within a distance learning program. This study investigated the accessibility of online courses and the efforts of instructors teaching online in meeting the needs of diverse learners. This study presents UDL as a concept which implements teaching strategies to meet the needs of the widest audience possible. Nontraditional students, older/returning students, international students, and individuals with disabilities are all considered diverse learners and are to be considered when designing a course; the same holds true in an online environment. Overall results indicated that although there is a positive shift in attitudes towards creating accessible online materials, the content and resources that make up a course are more difficult to actually implement with respect to accessibility. Therefore, overall accessible online courses continue to lack in some areas, which have created gaps within learning all the necessary course content. However, also due to the positive shift in overall attitudes, efforts to close the gap have increased.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
Universal Design for Learning, Online Accessibility, Andragogy
Access Rights
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