Creating a classroom environment where all learners have access to the materials and experiences used for instruction has historically presented a challenge for educators.
Before the infusion of devices in classrooms and 1:1 environments increasingly being the norm, there were significant barriers if an educator truly wanted ensure all learners had equal access to class content.
While there are multiple technologies, web tools and approaches educators can use to create an accessible environment for all learners, Voice notes created with Mote can play a significant role in creating a more accessible classroom as it fits into the larger framework presented by CAST AEM Center:
Accessibility is shaped by what we need to do, our interactions with the environment, and our personal preferences. Educational materials and technologies are “accessible” to people with disabilities if they are able to “acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services” as people who do not have disabilities. As a person with a disability, you must be able to achieve these three goals “in an equally integrated and equally effective manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use” (Joint Letter US Department of Justice and US Department of Education, June 29, 2010).https://aem.cast.org/get-started/defining-accessibility
Consider the three key determining factors in the quote above that align perfectly with the abilities that Mote puts into the hands of educators that directly impacts the experience of the learner: acquire, engage, and enjoy. Let’s explore these three categories and how they align to the capacity of Mote.
Educators can add audio to Google Docs, Google Slides or any webpage with a Sticky Mote to allow all students to acquire the information.
Whether students are emerging readers, developing fluency with the target language in the classroom or have a reading disability, embedded audio support from Mote addresses the acquire domain.
If we define engage by the ability to participate in a classroom experience, consider the traditional practice of formative assessment that requires students to respond with text. This barrier immediately excludes students from participation. However, with Mote embedded into a Google Form, learners can now engage with this experience by responding with audio and text.
Consider the impact that audio can have on a student’s enjoyment when their educators voice can be added to nearly any digital experience. Web content (readings, images, video) can be supplemented with an educator’s voice that transforms the experience for the learner.
Learner Variability & Barriers
While education may traditionally consider accessibility as addressing the educational needs of a subset of learners, emerging research indicates that all learners have a level of unique need. While accessibility is normally approached through the lens of supporting learners that may traditionally struggle, the concept of learner variability suggests a more inclusive approach.
…all students differ, and learning sciences research show that these differences matter for learning…learner variability, as defined here, embraces both students who struggle and those who thrive, Why? Because of the natural variability found in each person, in school and beyond.https://digitalpromise.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Learner-Variability-Is-The-Rule.pdf
The impact that Mote can have on the classroom is magnified when one considers the convergence of accessibility and learner variability.
With this broader perspective, audio can become a central component of a universally accessible classroom for all learners, regardless of their level of academic achievement.
As outlined above, audio can unlock classroom content and remove barriers of entry for learners that would traditionally be excluded from a learning experience. Students that may not fit into a traditionally defined subset of learners that require accessibility modifications can still benefit from audio.
Whether it be through audio feedback, audio based discussion forums, accessible versions of educational materials may mean the difference between learning barriers and learning opportunities. (Access to Learning – National Center on Accessible Education Materials)
Guest post from Greg Kulowiec