Category Archives: Accessible Instructional Materials

The Origin of a NERD – National (Open) Educational Resource Database

This is a blog only post.

There is not an A.T.TIPSCAST Episode associated with this post.

 

BACKGROUND INFO

Before I begin, I want to make it clear that what you are about to read is not meant to be a criticism but rather a call to help me, and likely others, understand more about what is apparently a confusing topic.

Recently, the Open Educational Resources movement has picked up a head of steam with the announcement of the Open eBooks initiative championed by Michelle Obama and The White House. At the forefront of this initiative was the launch of a new Open eBooks app. Like so many, I was initially excited. Open sourced materials have the potential for providing greater and more varied learning opportunities to everyone including people with disabilities, so what was not to be excited about?

Many of the people in my extended network of educators (Marvin Williams, Mike Marotta, Jamie Martin, etc.) working for and with people with disabilities began exploring the app for its accessibility features, including myself. The results were concerning as many discovered that the registration process to utilize the app was cumbersome and a barrier in itself, requiring educators to input demographic data that isn’t necessarily readily accessible to them. Once past the registration process, some necessary features were not universally available on every book within the app. Features such as text to speech, text to speech with dual highlighting, and image descriptions were simply not present ubiquitously.

These findings spurred an outcry (encapsulated in this blog post by June Behrmann), which, I think, led to the accessibility features of the Open eBooks app to be a topic of #ATchat on March 2nd. Andrew Marcinek, the Open Education Advisor to the Office of Educational Technology was an active participant in the chat and addressed the concerns.

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

But, here are the questions that have been plaguing me. Why does another app need to exist in the first place? Could open educational resources be created, organized, and shared in such a way that are device agnostic? Or, to put it simply, could open educational resources be made available in such a way that the user chooses which application he or she wants to use to experience the content? Could the government, rather than backing an additional app with a limited library of materials, support a structure where a user could search the entirety of open educational resources and then, select and open a file using whatever tool they want?

Currently, a person might need to maintain multiple apps to get to a specific piece of content. Each app has its own UI experience and accessibility features. Users need to maintain all of these apps, navigate the differing UI experiences, and mitigate varied features of the different apps, which makes for a giant ball of confusion.

A typical user experience might be as follows:

“Hmmm…where can I find this title? Let me check this app. Nope, that title is not there. Now let me check this other app. Nope, that title is not here either. Now, let me check yet another app! Huzzah, the title is here but this app isn’t an app that has the accessibility feature I need (or even prefer).”

If I’m a user who already has trouble reading and possibly has executive functioning difficulties, adding yet another library for me to check likely adds a barrier rather than knocks one down.

Instead of asking users to search multiple libraries individually could the government help provide one central place where all users go to get the content in the format they choose? Instead of backing yet another new app, could the money be spent building a tool which ties all the existing open educational resources together to make them searchable?

TRANSPORTATION AS A MODEL

Consider how the government works to facilitate transportation in the US. As part of the nation’s infrastructure, the government contracts out the companies to build roads. The government doesn’t contract out to companies to build cars that go on these roads. The government provides regulations for the construction of the cars but doesn’t manufacture them.

Could the same model be applied to open educational resources? Like the building of roads, the government could contract out to a company to build a searchable structure tying all open education resources together. When a user is looking for a resource, they could just go to this one place. The user could search the database and results could come back with all the file formats available. The user could then select the file format to open in the app of her or his choice (Open in…). To ensure accessibility and compatibility, the government could provide regulations about the criteria necessary for that file to be found in the search, just like what currently exists for the creation of automobiles regarding safety and environmental regulations. “If you’re going to sell a car in the US, it needs to meet these safety and environmental parameters. If you’re going to share a resource in the National (Open) Educational Resource Database (NERD, for short! Yes! How great is that?!?!) it needs to meet these accessibility standards.”

I fear the time, effort, and money spent creating the Open eBooks app was like building a car when what was really needed was a road. As a driver, I want to be able to choose my car knowing no matter which I choose, I’m ensured some base level of safety. As a reader, I want to be able to choose my reading application, knowing no matter which I choose, I’m ensured some base level of accessibility. I shouldn’t need to have multiple cars in order to get to where I want to go just like I shouldn’t need to have multiple eBook applications in order to read the materials from which I want to learn.  

All that written, I could be completely backward on this. I’m open to the idea that I’m completely and utterly wrong, which is why I started this post asking for a call to further my understanding. Please comment below to further the conversation!

 

UPDATE 5/12/16 – This might be just the NERD we’re looking for- http://learningregistry.org

A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #135: ScreamEd

Image of Chris holding face with the text "screamed" at the bottom.

Download the audio directly –

Episode #135: ScreamEd

ATTips-Summer-2014-concept

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning Read&Write software solutions. Click on the banner above to learn about the amazing Read&Write products.

Episode Overview –

Episode #135 is the 2014 Halloween episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST.
Don’t answer the phone.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #438: http://kidpresident.com
A.T.TIP #439: Common Craft Videos
A.T.TIP #440: Why Open Education Matters Video
A.T.TIP #441: Voice Messages in iMessage
A.T.TIP #442: “Hey Siri” Voice Activation
A.T.TIP #443: Brains On! Science for Kids Podcast
A.T.TIP #444: Word Cloud Generator http://tagcrowd.com
A.T.TIP #445: Word Cloud Generator http://worditout.com
A.T.TIP #446: Annotate a picture in Google Drawing
A.T.TIP #447: Designing lessons without a worksheet

Also Mentioned in This Episode

A.T.TIP #239: Word Cloud Generator http://tagxedo.com
A.T.TIP #240: Word Cloud Generator http://tagul.com
A.T.TIP #127: Word Cloud Generator http://wordle.net

Upcoming ATIA Webinars

Low Cost Ways to Provide More Options To Help Students with Reading and Writing – 3:30pm – 4:30pm ET on November 12th, 2014. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association
Getting Your AT Party Started: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Program Building with Sally Norton-Darr – 3:30pm – 5:00pm ET on December 11th, 2014. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association
Social Media for Beginners: Twitter 101  with Beth Poss – 3:30pm – 5:00pm ET on April 22, 2015. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association

Upcoming Live Presentations

Be A Digital Detective with Beth Poss – 12:45pm – 3:00pm on November 18, 2014. PATINS 2014 Conference.
Twitter 101 with Beth Poss – 10:15am – 11:15am on November 18, 2014. PATINS 2014 Conference.
Technology Driven Data Collection: Using Digital Tools to Document Progress –  One-Day Pre-conference – January 28th,  2015. Assistive Technology Industry Association One-Day Pre-conference. Register Now!
Multiple Presentations – January 29th – 31st,  2015. Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference.
TBD – Keynote Speaker –  February 4th, 2015. Utah Center for Assistive Technology

Contact Information

Send an e-mail to
attipscast@gmail.com
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e-mail alerts for new episodes

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A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #133: Purchasing Accessible Learning Materials, Story 3

Three panel comic of a man on the phone. In the first panel he asks the person on the phone if the product he is calling about is accessible. In the second panel the person on the phone asks what accessible means. In the third panel the man asks if the text can be read aloud or converted to Braille. The person on the phone hangs up and the man says, "Hello? Hello?"

Download the audio directly – Episode #133: Purchasing Accessible Learning Materials, Story 3

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning Read&Write software solutions. Click on the banner below to learn about the amazing Read&Write products.

Banner ad to get 20% an online order of Read & Write Gold from Texthelp.com

 Use promotion code ATTIPS14SAVE20 to get

20% off online orders of Read&Write!

Cannot be combined with other offers. Offer expires June 30, 2014.

Episode Overview-

Episode #133 features the third in a series of episodes which share stories of how educators supported the needs and preferences of students by selecting accessible instructional materials. This episode focuses on purchasing materials that are accessible so one doesn’t have to modify materials after implementation. You are encouraged to share your own stories in the comments below! This episode also marks the end of Season 7.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #435: The PALM Initiative

Upcoming Presentations –

Texas Assistive Technology Network – 

Tuesday, June 10th

UDL 2.0 – with Beth Poss (3 Hour Session)

Indiana Jones meets the Internet: Becoming an Assistive Technology Archaeologist – with Beth Poss (3 Hour Session)

ATIA Webinars

Low Cost Ways to Provide More Options To Help Students with Reading and Writing – 3:30pm – 4:30pm ET on November 12th, 2014. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association

Getting Your AT Party Started: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Program Building with Sally Norton-Darr – 3:30pm – 5:00pm ET on December 11th, 2014. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association

Contact Information-

Follow me on Twitter

Send an e-mail to attipscast@gmail.com

Register as a fan of the show to receive e-mail alerts for new episodes

About.me

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A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #131: Providing Accessible Instructional Materials, Story 2

cartoon of teacher pointing at a laptop saying how impressed she is at the number of free ebook resources there are.

Download the audio directly – Episode #131: Providing Accessible Instructional Materials, Story 2

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning Read&Write software solutions. Click on the banner below to learn about the amazing Read&Write products.

Banner ad to get 20% an online order of Read & Write Gold from Texthelp.com

 Use promotion code ATTIPS14SAVE20 to get

20% off online orders of Read&Write!

Cannot be combined with other offers. Offer expires June 30, 2014.

Episode Overview-

Episode #131 features the second in a series of episodes which share stories of how educators supported the needs and preferences of students by selecting instructional materials that were provided in a digital format. This episode references materials based on a question from an educator working at the secondary level. You are encouraged to share your own stories in the comments below!

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #420 – Search the LCPS AT Diigo Group for E-books  http://bit.ly/lcpsatdiigoebooks

A.T.TIP #421 – Providing Notes Prior to Lessons

A.T.TIP #422 – Let’s Get Down to Earth…Science Podcast

A.T.TIP #423 – Students recording audio versions of text for other students

A.T.TIP #424 – Zorba Publishing E-book Guide

A.T.TIP #425 – http://manybooks.net/

A.T.TIP #426 – http://openlibrary.org

A.T.TIP #427 – http://booksshouldbefree.com

A.T.TIP #428 – http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu

A.T.TIP #429 – http://online-literature.com

A.T.TIP #430 – http://gutenberg.org

A.T.TIP #431 – http://bit.ly/literacyzone

A.T.TIP #432 – http://bit.ly/lit2go

A.T.TIP #433 – http://dailylit.com

Upcoming Presentations –

VA Training and Technical Assistance Center Region 5 –

REGISTER NOW! AT, UDL, and Me, Oh My! with Sally Norton-Darr

Tuesday, April 8th  – 8:15am – 3:30pm

Texas Assistive Technology Network – 

Tuesday, June 10th

UDL 2.0 – with Beth Poss (3 Hour Session)

Indiana Jones meets the Internet: Becoming an Assistive Technology Archaeologist – with Beth Poss (3 Hour Session)

ATIA Webinars

Low Cost Ways to Provide More Options To Help Students with Reading and Writing – 3:30pm – 4:30pm ET on November 12th, 2014. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association

Getting Your AT Party Started: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Program Building with Sally Norton-Darr – 3:30pm – 5:00pm ET on December 11th, 2014. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association

Contact Information-

Follow me on Twitter

Send an e-mail to attipscast@gmail.com

Register as a fan of the show to receive e-mail alerts for new episodes

About.me

subscribe in itunes button

A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #130: Providing Accessible Instructional Materials, Story 1

Comic of different students stating that they like to learn using different materials and a teacher stating that if she provides digital materials all the students benefit.

Download the audio directly – Episode #130: Providing Accessible Instructional Materials, Story 1

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning Read&Write software solutions. Click on the banner below to learn about the amazing Read&Write products.

Banner ad to get 20% an online order of Read & Write Gold from Texthelp.com

 Use promotion code ATTIPS14SAVE20 to get

20% off online orders of Read&Write!

Cannot be combined with other offers. Offer expires June 30, 2014.

Episode Overview-

Episode #130 features the first in a series of episodes which share stories of how educators supported the needs and preferences of students by selecting instructional materials that were accessible. You are encouraged to share your own stories in the comments below!

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #418 – Planning to use text-based materials that are already available in a digital format.

A.T.TIP #419 – Check your local public library for digital versions of text

Upcoming Presentations –

ISTE SIGML Second Life and TweetChat –

Mobilize your Productivity with iOS7 Accessibility Options – Tips and Tricks for All! – Monday, March 24th 8:00pm – 9:00pm ET Second Life Presentation with Mark Nichols (SLURL to VSTE Island: http://bit.ly/17zxhaZ) & 9:00pm – 10pm ET Tweetchat (Follow the hashtag #sigml)

VA Training and Technical Assistance Center Region 5 –

REGISTER NOW! AT, UDL, and Me, Oh My! with Sally Norton-Darr

Tuesday, April 8th  – 8:15am – 3:30pm

Texas Assistive Technology Network – 

Tuesday, June 10th

UDL 2.0 – with Beth Poss (3 Hour Session)

Indiana Jones meets the Internet: Becoming an Assistive Technology Archaeologist – with Beth Poss (3 Hour Session)

ATIA Webinars

Low Cost Ways to Provide More Options To Help Students with Reading and Writing – 3:30pm – 4:30pm ET on November 12th, 2014. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association

Getting Your AT Party Started: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Program Building with Sally Norton-Darr – 3:30pm – 5:00pm ET on December 11th, 2014. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association

Contact Information-

Follow me on Twitter

Send an e-mail to attipscast@gmail.com

Register as a fan of the show to receive e-mail alerts for new episodes

About.me

subscribe in itunes button