Posted by: MandyS | December 1, 2011

Activity 26.1 – perspective of learning technologists

Another look at Chapter 7 with this activity. Thought I knew all there was to know about learning technologists, but clearly not.

  • There is a debate surrounding who is responsible (or most responsible) for accessibility. How helpful is this debate in ensuring that people working in post-16 education change their practices?If those with technical skills, such as learning technologists, are not ultimately or solely responsible for ensuring accessibility, what responsibilities do you think they should have and why?

The debate brings to the fore the fact that not all accessibility issues can be laid at the door of those that design the material. It is a team effort and this is what the debate seeks to highlight. I am not convinced that it will change everyone’s practices because there will always be the sceptics; particularly those who think that the designers are the experts and therefore responsible. Clearly, those with the technical expertise are the experts and their role should be to provide advice and support to those who are not. This does not make them ultimately responsible for failures, as advice can be given but not necessarily taken. To that end, responsibility depends on the circumstances.

  • On pages 82–83, Seale uses an archaeology metaphor to try to encourage learning technologists to dig deeper beneath the surface of accessibility guidelines and standards. This is intended to develop a greater understanding of approaches to accessible design. How helpful do you think this metaphor is?Can you think of an alternative metaphor, image, analogy or visualisation that could be used to help develop learning technologists’ thinking in this area?

I like the metaphor because it encourages learning technologists to look behind the purpose of the legislation, guidelines etc. to see what they are there to achieve. Judges do this on a regular basis in interpreting legislation; what is the purpose of the Act, what are the provisions aimed at, why was it introduced? Designers may well be swept along by the vast amount of technology available to provide ‘all singing, all dancing’ websites that are fun to use. The guidelines and legislation are not there to prevent them from doing this, but to make sure that when they do, their feet are anchored and that accessibility is at the fore of their designs.  

  • On page 98 Seale discusses the tensions regarding the use of technical tools versus human judgement to evaluate the accessibility of learning resources. What is your position concerning this issue?Can we trust human judgement? If so, whose judgement should we trust – learning technologists working within educational organisations or external experts?

For me, evaluation has to be a combination of tools and human judgment; neither can evaluate effectively alone. I think who one places one’s trust in is again dependent on the circumstances e.g. scale, importance etc. The greater the impact accessibility issues are going to have, the more experience that is going to be required, which could well mean external experts. One would like to think that if a learning technologist feels out of their depth in evaluating, they would have the good sense to seek further advice, and the emphasis needs to be that there is no shame in that.


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