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Research-based design

As we develop CISL tools, we are researching how the features may help us to support a wide range of learners’ needs. We want to know what the barriers to learning are, how they’re being addressed, and where more work is needed. Here’s what we’ve found so far:

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Research scan: What accessibility features are most useful? Who finds them useful? What conditions make them more or less useful? To answer these questions, we’re reviewing studies that focus on digital or online learning, technology, and disabilities.
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Market scan: What accessibility features and learning scaffolds already exist on the market, and where? To answer this, we are investigating a wide range of digital learning resources. We began by reviewing  21 open educational resources (OERs) and OER repositories, and 7 EPUB readers. And we interviewed 25 experts from academia, nonprofits and foundations, and industry.


What does the research say?

We’re on the hunt for research about what features of digital learning tools can best support diverse learners. We’re continually reviewing recent studies on digital learning supports. Here’s what we know so far about some common features of digital learning resources. We’ll update this list as we learn more.

What Features Are Available? 

We wanted to learn how accessible some of the most popular digital learning materials are, so we investigated open educational resources (OERs). OERs are popular all over the world because they’re free educational materials that anyone can share, improve, remix, and redistribute. We searched 10 OER repositories, or databases of free or open source educational materials.

Bar graph of OER Repositories

We explored whether 10 OER repositories allowed users to search for specific features, such as standards alignment and accessibility. Only 3 repositories allowed users to search for accessibility features. Meanwhile, all 10 repositories allowed users to search by subject, and 9 could search by grade level. 6 repositories allowed users to search for standards-aligned resources (Common Core or Next Generation Science), 5 for resources including assessments and quizzes, and 4 allowed for full courses or curricula.