Universal Design for Learning – Low Vision

When thinking of a barrier that could potentially affect online learning, I think of a past student that I had in one of my classes that had difficulty seeing small print.  This barrier not only affected his learning in the regular classroom but also when using the computer.  The way I supported him in the classroom was to provide all my students with larger print on any handouts and tests that we did in the classroom.  I made all my power points and visual aids with larger print but also with dark print on a lighter background.  Some ways to support him in an online course would be:

  • Larger Print throughout entire course
  • Dark print with light background
  • Make sure all video quality is clear and not pixellated and that video can be enlarged
  • Emails with larger print
  • Don’t make the site distracting
  • Use fewer words in explanations
  • Record instructions or explanations of assignments in an audio file
  • Highlight important words or phrases with a bright colour



Important Interactions

Student-Teacher Interaction

An example would be the student not getting positive feedback from the teacher in person to feel positive about the growth in their learning.  When the teacher has an active presence online, positively encouraging each student independently either in discussion posts or email it helps to encourage students to continue to try hard and put forth a great effort.  “An active presence on the part of the instructor—one in which s/he actively guides and coordinates the discourse—relates positively to both a students’ sense of connectedness and learning (Shea, Li, & Pickett).”

Student-Student Interaction

An example would be the students not having opportunities to interact with each other online and create a comfortable social learning environment.  The online environment needs to be created with assistance by the teacher and the course layout, so students have many opportunities to connect and interact with each other either through discussion, assignments, email etc. “Student-to-student interaction is vital to building community in an online environment, which supports productive and satisfying learning, and helps students develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills (Kolloff, 2011).”

Student-Content Interaction

An example would be; how much time does a student spend interacting with the course content (discussion posts, readings, questions, and reviewing overall content).  If students spend quality time reviewing the course content and are given a minimum amount of time to spend on each module by an actual number in hours or minutes, or to break it down even further each discussion question, assignment etc.  This would help students to be able to have an idea of the amount of time that should be spent on the online course in each section to help them achieve better marks but also a better way to focus their learning in an online course.  “Learners who spent more time interacting with course content achieve higher grades than those who spent less time with the content (Zimmerman, 2012).”

Student-Interface (LMS) Interaction

An example would be students needing more interactive course materials throughout the interface.  Teachers can add in audio lectures, record videos of a lesson, set up self-tests for students to test themselves on course knowledge, and review games set up for students to review content and learning without teacher testing directly.  “When integrating Learner-Interface interaction, the objective is to give students a tool to interact with repeatedly until they master the intended outcomes, receiving clear instant feedback when they need to correct themselves.  Offloading the work of low-quality interactions with students is one of the greatest strengths of the LMS, freeing instructors to focus on high-leverage teaching practices (Curran, 2013).





Asynchronous vs. Synchronous

Scenario 1:

Orientation to the LMS

An asynchronous tool could be any type of presentation software like Mindomo, Prezi, PowerPoint, Haiku Deck, Slide Dog, Keynote, Emaze and many more.  The teacher can create the orientation on one of these tools with photos and directions of how to navigate the LMS.  Students can then log on and view the presentation, “Orientation to LMS” at any time of day or night when it is convenient for them.  The asynchronous tools are a big part of having a successful e-learning course.  These tools provide students with more flexibility in the course to complete course work.  Ideally, to complete the course at their own pace, by using the internet merely as a support tool rather than venturing online solely for interactive classes.

Scenario 2:

An Important Class Discussion (reviewing a concept)

Synchronous tools are another way to support our online classrooms, which help to enhance online learning.  These are tools where the teacher is readily accessible and gives immediate feedback to students.  The synchronous tool that I choose for “An Important Class Discussion” is a program called Adobe Connect using Teleconference.  My board is very large “ADSB” and they use this tool to connect all the teachers across our board that are many hours apart.  They do courses, new certifications and meetings using this tool.  This has helped our board to become more connected.  I feel that this tool could be used in an online course either on a regular basis, if the course required, or when certain important topics are to be discussed in class.  When something comes up in an online course that is pertinent, then the teacher can arrange an Adobe Connect Conference using Teleconference so that all students can be heard and ask questions and get answers right away.





LMS Rubric

LMS Rubric – Julie Robinson

Criteria Level 4 Level 3 Level 2 Level 1
Navigation The site is easy to navigate, the links are clearly labelled and stand out making it easy to go from page to page without the user getting lost. The site is easy to navigate, the links are well labelled and stand out making it easier to go from page to page.  Users hardly ever get lost. The site is a bit trying and somewhat hard to navigate, the links are labelled, but don’t stand out making it harder to go from page to page.  Users sometimes get lost The site is difficult to navigate, the links are hard to find and they don’t take the user where they need to go.  The user feels lost and is unsure where to find anything on site.
Content/Links The content is easy to understand and highly supports what students are learning.  There are links within content to more supporting materials that are highly credible sources. The content is fairly easy to understand and supports what students are learning.  There are some links within content to materials that support learning and are credible sources. The content is somewhat accurate and it sometimes supports what students are learning.  There are few links within content to support learning and some of the sources are credible. The content is not accurate and is difficult to understand.  There are no obvious links to supporting materials.  The sources listed are not credible.
Accessibility The LMS is easily accessible from all different types of technology (All Apple products, all PC products, Chrome Books)


The LMS is accessible from many different types of technology. The LMS is somewhat accessible from different types of technology. This LMS is not very accessible and is hard to access on certain types of technology


This LMS is very appealing to the eye and is very well organized. This LMS is appealing to the eye and is well organized. This LMS is somewhat appealing to the eye and is somewhat  organized. This LMS is not very appealing to the eye and is not well  organized.
Assignments/Questions The assignments very in style and give numerous opportunities for students to critically think and be creative. The assignments are mostly varied in style and most of the time give  opportunities for students to critically think and be creative. The assignments somewhat vary in style and give some opportunities for students to critically think and be creative. The assignments do not vary in  style and don’t offer opportunities for students to critically think and be creative.

Tools Tools Tools

There are so many cool tools out there these days that it is hard to keep up and know which ones are best and what it is best used for!  It is so wonderful to have so many options when we reach into the big pot of extending technology and find a tool that will extend our learning even further.  I have some experience working with a number of the tools in the Top 100 tools for learning list compiled by Jane Hart.  The ones I feel that have made learning easier for me are YouTube, Google Docs and Drop box.


YouTube is a video sharing service that allows users to watch videos posted by other users and upload videos of their own. The service was started as an independent website in 2005 and was acquired by Google in 2006. Videos that have been uploaded to YouTube may appear on the YouTube website and can also be posted on other websites, though the files are hosted on the YouTube server.(http://techterms.com/definition/youtube)

This tool can be an invaluable learning tool to any online or regular classroom learning if used correctly.  There is so much fantastic information in this tool just waiting to be shared with our students.  It is great that we can just click on the link and we are able to view many videos and clips that support our lessons and make student learning more exciting.  YouTube is a great way to add videos into an online learning environment, especially if the students may need to watch demonstrations to know how to perform an activity.  It is also a great way to enhance student understanding of something by using a video to support the content of the unit, activity etc.

YouTube would be the R in the SAMR model.  YouTube offers access to videos and clips that once we would never have been able to show our students, because of cost, accessibility and resources.

 Google Docs

A family of Web-based applications from Google that includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, forms creation and cloud storage. Launched in 2006, documents can be uploaded and downloaded in Word, Open Office, RTF, HTML or text formats. Spreadsheets can be uploaded and downloaded in Excel, OpenOffice and comma delimited (CSV) formats. Files can also be downloaded as PDF.(http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/term/57240/google-docs)

Google Docs is a fantastic tool when working in groups and you can’t get together to work on a project or assignment.  This tool gives students more opportunities to work on group projects away from school and still be able to collaborate as a group.  Google Docs is such an amazing tool when working in an online learning environment.  I used this tool myself while taking a number of different AQ courses.  We had to work in groups and all members of the course were all over the world.  Some of my groups members were in China, England and on the other side of Ontario.  We were able to work together collaboratively through Google Docs, which I feel helped us to be more successful in our online courses.

Google Docs would be the S in the SAMR model, which stands for Substitution.  When using Google Docs as a word processor, the new technology just replaces the old technology but doesn’t change the task.


Dropbox is cloud storage service that enables users to store files on remote cloud servers and the ability to share files within a synchronized format. It provides an online storage solution powered by cloud computing service model of infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Dropbox users are provided by an online storage space hosted on Dropbox accessible anywhere via the Internet. The storage space provides storage for virtually any kind of fie type from documents, images, videos etc.(https://www.techopedia.com/definition/26850/dropbox)

This tool offers so much to an online learner!  Students just have to drop assignments, projects and such into the dropbox for their teacher to access.  There is no photocopying, scanning, emailing etc etc.  All the students have to do is save their file to the dropbox and “Voila” the teacher has it!  I feel that this is a great tool for learners, it takes the stress off having to worry about teachers receiving their assignments.  Most dropboxes send out a confirmation email when you have saved an item to it, saving students the worry and stress of their work getting lost in “no man’s land”!

Dropbox would be the A in the SAMR model, which stands for Augmentation.  The dropbox is a form of handing in assignments, but it is more accessible and faster to use then the other old typical ways.


Inclusive Strategies

The five strategies that I identified that would be supportive to an online inclusive learning environment are:

  1. Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology is a great way to support my entire class in an online learning environment.  By giving all my students the opportunity to use assistive technology can break down many barriers that students may have while taking an online course.  It can enhance student’ ability to perform and complete tasks with efficiency and independence.  It can my help students with organizing information in different ways.  It offers speech to text and text to speech software for those students who struggle in the area of literacy, helping them to become more independent learners.  By giving my students opportunities to have freedom to explore the use of different assistive technologies helps to make them feel more comfortable to try it out and break down barriers that they may have.  Also by making assistive technology as a part of my whole class approach on a regular basis will increase student use and confidence in using it.  It will become more natural to all my students if I use it as a part of my regular lessons in my e-learning course.

  1. Providing a welcoming online presence as the teacher on a daily basis.
  2. Creating a fun, positive and safe online community within our course discussion posts.
  3. Making all content easily accessible – put in links when needed for easy navigation.
  4. Make sure the fonts and colours are readable and a good size for everyone to read. Don’t use colour to convey meaning, say what you want students to know.


Supporting all Students in Online Learning

When you stop and really think about online learning and what supports need to be put into place to support every student, it is much like a regular classroom.  Every student needs something different to support their learning, because we all learn differently.  We need to make the environment welcoming, encouraging and accepting for all students of all backgrounds and abilities.  We need to make the course content and resources easily accessible and provide websites that can support the course.  We need to provide differentiated instruction for students to feel that they can guide their own learning at the pace right for them.  We as teachers need to look at the “Tiered Approach to Learning” and follow each tier to know how and where to support our students.  This approach identifies students who are having learning challenges and helps to plan assessment and instructional approaches that can help each student be successful.

“An extremely effective approach to assessment and intervention is the ‘tiered’ approach, which sequentially increases the intensity of instructional interventions.” (Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003, as cited in Education for All, K–6, p.

First Nations benefit from E-Learning

From reading the course content and my own experiences, I feel that First Nations can benefit from taking an online course.  Certain support strategies need to be put into place for First Nation students to be successful when taking an e-learning course.  By offering student guided learning with differentiated instruction and accepting different modes and methods of how materials and content are interpreted will build confidence and creativity in all learners.

Support Strategies:

  • Content needs to be relevant
  • Expectations need to be set high
  • Access to course content, resources and websites that relate to content
  • Focus on student needs
  • Create an inclusive and holistic environment
  • Provide relevant and engaging resources
  • Let students guide own learning
  • Differentiated learning



21st Century Learners

I personally feel that learning has changed drastically since I was in highschool which wasn’t really that long ago…only 20 years!  The way students learn is so different now in this century then when I went to school.  Students are now able to have more choice over their own learning, more students seem to need more support in their learning, and students are expected to know more than my age group was ever expected to know in a shorter time span, with all the lengthy curriculum expectations.

There are so many challenges that students face today in their learning; distractions (social media), condensed curriculum expectations, shorter time lines, expectations from the ministry, ever-changing technologies for the learner to know and learn from.  Students have high expectations placed on them today with so many more barriers that it makes it hard for students to actually learn and grow as an individuals in this fast pace ever-changing world.



Welcome to my blog!

This is my first time creating a blog so I am very new at all of this.  I am starting this blog to have somewhere to access my learning from my  e-learning course after the course is complete.  Also this is an opportunity for me to get more comfortable using this site and become familiar with blogging.  I want to grow my own learning in technology and the online world, so I can be more helpful to my students when they are taking e-learning courses.

st joe bridge