CEC 2019: Ensuring Access to New Technologies and Resources
Saturday, February 2, 2019
3:00PM – 5:00PM ET
CEC at Indianapolis, IN
Boris Goldowsky (CAST) & Jose Blackorby
In recent years, there has been tremendous growth in the availability and use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) -- royalty-free content available to be used, remixed and shared. The growth in OERs has the potential to change the ways in which schools and students access and deliver high-quality content for all students, including students with disabilities and their teachers, as a wide variety of freely available materials are made available for diverse learners.
Unfortunately, the needs of students with disabilities and other exceptional students are often not considered in the creation of these OERs or in the platforms themselves. Thus, the new frontier of OERs has the potential to create new barriers for students with disabilities and risks for negative effects, similar to those seen in the disappointing results of students with disabilities attending online or virtual schools (Treviranus, 2014).
We are engaged in a 5-year OSEP funded project whose goal is to help realize the potential of OERs to be the flexible, adaptive, and supported resources that they should be. We can use the capacity of technology to provide not just accessibility but also learning supports, scaffolds, and adaptivity based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to provide equitable and improved learning opportunities for all (Meyer, Rose & Gordon 2014). We are surveying the existing ecosystem of educational technology products and resources, as well as the research literature, to more clearly identify what types of solutions are currently in use, what is currently working and what is not. In parallel with and informed by this scan as well as collaboration and co-design with educators and students, we are building a suite of open-source software to enable and exemplify the kind of inclusive and supported access to OERs that can realize their potential.
The software suite will be made up of three components:
* An exploration tool allowing students to playfully explore possible customization options to determine what may work well for them in accessing educational content.
* An authoring tool, enabling curriculum developers and teachers to take existing OER content and add context-specific supports, alternate formats and interactive elements.
* A UDL player application to allow students to use these enhanced OERs, applying their stored preferences.