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Evaluating Web Page Accessibility

This month is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, which is a federal legislation designed “to [eliminate] discrimination against people with disabilities.” Often times students with disabilities can be left out of online curriculum, which is why it is important to evaluate if your webpage is accessible. In an a recent article George Williams discussed how you can evaluate your webpage for accessibility, he noted the best way to engage in accessibility testing is with actual people. However there are also a number of helpful tools that can automatically check your site for the most important accessibility issues:

  • Wave Toolbar
    WAVE can help you evaluate the accessibility of your web content. WAVE is easy to use, you simply enter the web page address or browse to a file on your computer and select WAVE this page. WAVE will then provide you with a report section at the top of your page with embedded icons and error indicators. RED icons indicate accessibility errors and GREEN icons indicate accessibility features.
  • HTML_CodeSniffer
    HTML_CodeSniffer Is a client-side JavaScript application that checks an HTML document or source code for violations of a defined coding standard. It can be extended by developers to enforce custom coding standards by creating your own “sniffs”. This bookmarklet can work with almost any browser.
  • Tota11y
    Tota11y helps visualize how your site performs with assistive technologies. Testing for accessibility is often tedious and confusing, but tota11y aims to reduce this barrier by helping visualize accessibility violations. Your file will have a small button in the bottom of your corner document, once you click on the button you are able to see the accessibility problems your web page may have.
  • Pa11y
    Allows you to check the accessibility of web pages your own or others. If you are more interested in fixing issues rather than hunting them down you can use pa11y-dashboard.

You can also look at W3C web accessibility evaluation tools list. Over 40 tools listed are software programs or online services that can help determine if the webpage is accessible. All these tools will help evaluate webpage accessibility to ensure everyone can enjoy your webpage.

Designing College More Like a Video Game

In Chapter 4 “Designing College More Like a Video Game” of the book Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning, José Antonio Bowen talks about how to motivate students to think in new ways.

When students make the transition from high school to college, they are asked to alter the way of thinking that had previous led to success. This is a substantial change being asked of them, under conditions that punish failure, and it comes at the start of college, when anxiety about change and failure are at their peak.

It has been shown, through empirical evidence, that the combination of high expectations and low stakes matter for learning; these are the same conditions that make a good video game. However, being approachable and supportive also improves learning.

In order to lower the risk of failure while still maintaining high standards, the means of assessment will need to be reviewed and rethought. By increasing the amount of exams, each individual exam will have less of an impact on the final grade, reducing the risk.

Video games are similar to a series of tests that are innately motivating, unlike most exams encountered in college. Instructors can act like game developers, creating exams that follow a narrative or tackle a problem, as a result tests would become more fun and interesting. By giving consideration to the format of exams, instructors can increase motivation and reduce the stress of their students.

Most Parents Still Value College

A very informative post was written recently by Sara Lipka for The Chronicle of Higher Education detailing statistical information about parents’ perceptions on the importance and value of a college education for their children, despite the rising and obvious financial costs.

Originally written by the Wall Street Journal, the survey shows some positive and negative viewpoints parents have about the value of their children’s college education when faced with sometimes daunting financial concerns. For example, almost 9/10 parents said that college was an important investment for their children’s future. On the other hand, while parents wanted their kids to go to college, 79% of parents expressed some worry and concern about having enough money to make that happen.

Percentages about how parents fund their children’s college education, the various types of loans available for students and parents to use, and even the common confusion and lack of knowledge parents have about loans were also discussed.


For more information about this article, please click here.

Research on Flipping Study Habits for Better Understanding

In a recent post written in the Computing Education Blog, two studies were presented discussing the benefits of changing, reversing, and/or flipping the classroom model in order to increase student comprehension. In these studies, data was collected on how well students understood concepts when they were tested on the materials before studying and how beneficial hands-on learning and experimentation was before individual studying took place.

The first article, written by Daniel Willingham (Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia), talks about how students gain a better understanding in what they are learning when they try to generate the answer on their own first before reading and learning about it in books and other resources. As a result, there is a higher chance that students will retain and better understand concepts when they invest some initial effort in solving the problem. In essence, students benefit more from experimenting and doing rather than just studying.

When students are interacting with materials and concepts in the classroom, there is a direct connection present between the student and the subject being taught. When reading from a book or studying individually, students have a more distant relationship with the concepts because the students are invested in reading about the subject and not actually doing the experimentation.

Read more!

Five Key Tips to being a Successful Online Student

Introducing IMD at UWB 061413-2Students enrolled in online courses often find it difficult to balance their academic, social, and occupational lives. As such, we at UWB LT have created this list of five key tips on how to be a successful digital learner.

You may find that these steps are also useful for being a successful traditional student, but they are especially critical for online students to succeed. (more…)