2003 Conference Proceedings

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ACCESSIBILITY AWARENESS AND SKILL DEVELOPMENT FOR UNIVERSITY & K-12 FACULTY

Presenter
Terry Morrow
Associate Director
Office of Academic Technology
1012 Turlington Hall
University of Florida
1012 Gainesville, FL 327611-7345
Phone: 352.392.1717
Fax: 352.392.7065
Email: ctm@ufl.edu 
Website: http://plaza.ufl.edu 

Introduction

The University of Florida has received funding from the Southeast DBTAC to develop materials for increasing awareness and skill development for University and K-12 faculty. These training materials include several components.

Educational Environment and Targeted Promising Practice

The University of Florida (UF) is a land grant institution and the largest university in the State of Florida. The University of Florida attracts top students from throughout Florida's high schools and community colleges, and from every state in the US and most foreign countries. Our 46,0000 students are diverse and create a multi culture environment in one of the largest universities in the nation.

In the recent past, UF has seen a steady increase in the number of students that require improved accessibility to educational resources. To meet this need UF responded in several ways, including staff increases, outreach programs and early student contact and follow-up programs .

However, barriers to improved accessibility for UF students continue to include: 1) the lack of awareness of faculty of accessibility related issues, 2) knowledge of faculty of available accessible technologies, and 3) faculty and staff skills needed for accessible design, creation and delivery of educational materials. This includes educational materials used not only in conventional and distance education courses, but also those used in community engagement programs such as continuing education, and cooperative extension.

Driven to a large extent by developments in Instructional Technology (e.g. the WWW, videoconferencing, virtual environments, high performance computing, and Internet2) many of the educational activities undertaken by the community provide new means to improve and create better learning environments and extend education to non-traditional audiences. As technology penetrates the academic culture and brings about inevitable change, a unique opportunity arises to incorporate accessibility as a forefront issue in academic activity.

This presentation focuses on:

  1. Increasing awareness and institutionalizing faculty training on accessible technologies in education.
  2. Developing educational and training materials for faculty on accessible technology and accessible course design and delivery.
  3. Assessing penetration and conduct change of faculty as it relates to accessible course design and delivery.
  4. Diffusing educational materials to partner institutions in the region, country and internationally.

Target Audience for Training Materials

1) Primary target audience:

Faculty at the University of Florida: UF currently has more than 4,000 faculty members engaged in teaching, research and community engagement.

2) Additional Target Audiences (See partners):

a. High Schools participating in the Opportunity Alliance Institute.

b. Over 8,000 K-12 teachers working with Florida Cooperative Extension at UF (300 UF faculty are involved in extension). Currently there are 264,000 Florida High School students enrolled in school enrichment programs through the 4-H program.

c. Regional and National Partners

Faculty in Learning Technology Consortium (LTC) universities (http://www.ltc.ufl.edu). The LTC is a partnership of nine universities sharing common interests and solutions to teaching and learning with technology. LTC partner universities in the Southeast region are University of Georgia, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest (2775, 2420 and 440 faculty respectively).

d. International Partners

Faculty in Partnership in Global Learning (PGL) universities (http://pgl.ufl.edu). PGL is a consortium of five universities in the U.S., México and Brazil. In addition, 300 teachers in (out of country) -K-12 partner institutions working with IT in education.

Measurable objectives

The objectives for the work described in this presentation are:

  1. Train 10% of UF faculty on accessible course design.
  2. Include basic training on accessibility concerns and direction to resources at new faculty orientation meetings.
  3. Assess impact of training on faculty's awareness and teaching practice.
  4. Diffuse teaching materials and methodologies to partner institutions.

Major Tasks Towards Reaching objectives

  1. Develop course modules for faculty and teacher training. Delivery mechanisms to include lecture materials, web-based self paced course modules, and CD-ROM self paced course modules. Self training materials are to be developed so that users can select depth (time invested).

  2. Conduct UF faculty hands on training in accessible course design using current faculty training facilities at UF's Center for Instructional Technology and Training (http://www.citt.ufl.edu).

  3. Deliver the course materials to partner institutions and K-12 schools using printed brochures describing the web page and sending CDROMs to those that request it.

  4. Sponsor an accessible technology training workshop at Florida's educators conferences including the Opportunity Alliance Institute.

  5. Conduct a survey of UF accessible trained faculty on the impact of training on teaching and course design.

Key Collaborators

This project was jointly developed by the Office of Academic Technology (formerly Office of Instructional Resources) and the Office for Students with Disabilities at the University of Florida. The Center for Instructional Technology and Training (CITT) in the Office of Academic Technology provides a variety of services including hands-on and online training in areas of academic technology. The CITT also offers design and development services for the eLearning modules used in Distance Education and as supplements to more traditional courses. Samples of projects produced by the CITT may be viewed at http://www.citt.ufl.edu/.

The Office of Academic Technology represents the University of Florida in the Learning Technology Consortium (LTC). More information concerning the scope of the LTC may be seen at http://ltc.ufl.edu. The LTC membership includes nine universities including a mix of public and private institutions. One of the major thrusts of the LTC is the coordination of training and online learning resources. The LTC membership will be invited to participate in the development and evaluation of the module.

Another invited participant will be the Partnership for Global Learning (PGL). The scope of the PGL is shown at http://pgl.ufl.edu. The PGL is a consortium of universities and business partners in the United States, Brazil, and Mexico. One of the major activities of PGL is the development and deployment of eLearning modules with an initial focus on K-12 teachers. The PGL is a vehicle that would be used for evaluating the modules developed under this program and provide translation services into Spanish and Portuguese. The PGL infrastructure would also provide a convenient way for distributing the modules to an international audience.

The University of Florida is a member of the Opportunity Alliance Institute (http://www.coe.ufl.edu). A statewide initiative, the Opportunity Alliance has created more than 30 partnerships between the state's public universities and K-12 public schools. The University of Florida has established partnerships with several high schools representing opposite ends of the state. The Opportunity Alliance Institute will be asked to participate in the development, deployment, and evaluation of the modules.

Potential for Replication

The experience gained and developed modules will be made available to member institutions of the Partnership for Global Learning, the Learning Technology Consortium, and the Opportunity Alliance Institute. Each of these groups are asked to serve as distributors for the modules once they are developed. They are asked to provide input concerning content and scope of the modules. By including these organizations, there is a wide range of K-12 and higher education faculty who can deploy and use the modules.

Evaluation Plan

Evaluation of the modules is approached from several venues. Initially, the University of Florida Office for Students with Disabilities reviews the content and format to validate the content and accessibility. The online resources (CD-ROM and WWW) are developed so that they conform to W3C and Bobby standards. The modules contain an evaluation component which provides user feedback to be used for refinement. In addition, the partner consortiums are asked to provide feedback and evaluation from their member institutions. Feedback from the above sources will be used to define needed modifications in both content and delivery methods. A baseline and post survey of trained faculty is being conducted.


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