Building in Flexibility
In some cases, instructors may put students at a disadvantage without intending to. Often, disadvantages result from students not having enough time to complete tasks, or not having appropriately designed resources. This can be especially problematic for students with learning or physical disabilities. Consider using the following best practices for building flexibility into course materials:
- To encourage user participation and reflection, use Discussions instead of instant messaging tools. Instant Messaging can be difficult for users with visual, motor, or learning disabilities because they require users to quickly process and respond to information, using technology that doesn’t match their needs. Alternatively, Discussions give all users time to reflect. If you use instant messaging, be aware that some users may need an alternative solution such as phone or face-to-face contact. Also consider how accessible the instant messaging interface is for the tool you are using. The TCU Online Instant Messages tool is specifically designed to be accessible by keyboard and screen readers.
- Provide readings and assignments well in advance of deadlines so users can work ahead and prepare. Many students need the time to organize extra help and to read through the content more than one time. Use conditional release settings to release course content by module, and make sure you provide enough time to complete each component.
- Be aware of the limitations that timed examinations place on students. Traditional examinations usually have a time limit in which students must prepare their responses. This can be difficult for students with learning or physical disabilities as they often need more time to articulate or record their responses. Consider whether strict time limits are necessary for your course material. If time limits are required, ensure that students are aware that they can request extra time.