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Blended e-learning in relation to accessibility and disabled students

Fig. 1 Boyer’s model of scholarship (1997)

We all benefit from variety, which ironically we all get if adequate provision is made for content to be accessible – there is a video, captions and a transcript; even a descriptioon of a diagram or illustration can be valuable if you don’t understand what you can see. If variety is part of the approach to learning then in vaious ways there is discrmination where such variety or choices don’ exist for the disabled student. Instead of everything in Braille would the vusyally impaired student prefer audio supplied, or better still a person to read for them?

Whatever the delivery mechanism – face–to–face, blended or entirely online, how a student responds or ‘takes’ to studying will to some degree depend on the experience they have had in the past. Students cannot and do not expect a rich, gamified version of undergraduate phsyics or chemistry in the style of World of Warcraft – the budgets don’t exist and to produce a course in such a format would be exclusive and in many ways inaccessible.

Far easier is to chose the right resource and to have student-friendly tutots, not necessarily even subject matter experts or even qualified teachers (though this can only help) but people who are psychologically predisposed to being sympathetic.

Content e–learning or otherwise must be core – not should it be optional, as more often than not the option will be exercises NOT to do it, this is particularly important for activities that require a reasonable amount of group participation and interaction to be effective – say an online forum disucssion (synschronous or asynchronous) or a collaboratively developed wiki page of content, or even blogging, where the reciprocal act or bith reading and commenting on a post is vital to the inclination of someone to continue with ablog – especially if they are a novice.

There is plenty that is common to all – having the means to buy the kit, the software and broadband internet access, let alone the having the wherewhithall or support to get it to work in various different contexts and to keep it and your skills up to date.

What ultimately matters is that the student passes through an assessment process successfully – does it matter how they got there? Accessibilty, e–learning and blended learning all provide variety and choices on the way to this concluding exerecise.

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