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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.

The Power of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is well known social media site widely used by colleges and students everywhere. In an article on The Chronicle of Higher Education regarding LinkedIn’s latest big move, people everywhere can get a better idea of how much it has grown and how useful it really is. LinkedIn announced that it would spend $1.5 billion to buy Lynda.com, a provider of consumer-focused online courses. This will be huge step for LinkedIn and can make it even better, but lets not forget what it already provides for its users.

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LinkedIn already offers its users college rankings, university pages and multiple tools for all 350 members to crowd source tips and advice on where to go to college or what courses to take. What will happen once LinkedIn makes this purchase? Many say different things, but all are very positive.Some say that this is a sharp reminder to colleges that if they don’t push forward in helping students as well as the alumni with career transitions, there are others, such as LinkedIn, that will be there to help them fill that void.

The fact that people today are starting to think of credentials in a different way helps LinkedIn even more. For example, there’s a move to upgrade academic transcripts to make them a more valuable record for employers. In other words, put them into a machine. Mathew Pittinsky, a founder of both Blackboard and Parchment, even says that the more records that are “machine readable” the better.

LinkedIn happens to be sitting on a “gold mine of data” with a specific set of job skills that are needed for careers in specific cities. So colleges should engage with the company and get their students involved. LinkedIn isn’t here to take over colleges, it is here to work them and the ones under their roof. But to truly get a better understanding of what LinkedIn’s intentions are and what it is capable of, visit the site above and see what the future of LinkedIn has in store.

Simplicity for International Teaching

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Comprehending a new language can be difficult, but luckily there is a tool that can help anyone pick it up.

The University of Washington Bothell has been building a large and diverse campus over the years and provides hundreds of types of courses to its students. English language classes are even offered to international students as well. But how are these classes being taught? Is there a more effective way?

The answer is yes! And the Voki app is the right tool to use for these situations. Voki allows the teachers and students to make avatars that can be used to help them with their education. Students are able to design their own Avatars to speak the language they are currently trying to learn. A set of instructions can also be provided to help students understand the meaning of the words and guidance on how they are pronounced. That is only the beginning of what Voki is capable of.

Voki is a great program and has multiple purposes, speaking another language is just one of them. The best thing about Voki is that it is great to use in front of a large class, when one on one with a student, or even by one’s self when alone studying. It is definitely a strong tool and can be used to help students everywhere comprehend things in a different and technical way.

To find out more about what Voki can do and how it can be used, click the link at the top of the page and find out something new and amazing you could have missed.

Back-to-School Apps for Instructors and Students

In the spirit of back-to-school season, onlinecolleges.net recently published lists of recommended smartphone apps for students and instructors. We’ve decided to share a few of their favorites–as well as some of ours–with you here:

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Smartphones as Learning Tools

Last Spring, we posted an article about using cell phones in the classroom. Nearly every student, staff and faculty member has one, and in the past years there’s been a push to harness the technology for educational enhancement. But now an even more advanced mobile technology is becoming ubiquitous–smartphones. There are now 91.4 million smartphones in the United States, and many students are the proud owners of these devices. In addition to standard cell phone features of calling and texting, smartphones make it easy to browse the web, play games, check the news, study for a test, and much more all thanks to different applications that can be installed on the phone.

With technology constantly advancing, it may be only a matter of time until cell phones are replaced completely by smartphones. It’s no wonder, considering possession of a smartphone is having knowledge & resources at your fingertips (literally). This brings to mind the idea of smartphones in the classroom. Want to get the latest on a current event? Open a news app. Need to spell check something? Use the dictionary on your phone. Looking for background information on a topic? Open Wikipedia for a quick review.

But the dilemma with smartphones in the classroom is similar to laptops in the classroom. How do we use the technology without distracting students from the class work? In a Campus Technology article published recently, this question is tackled. The authors give several tips on best practices for smartphones in the class, which will be highlighted after the jump:

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