Creating Accessible Courses/Develop and publish a course outline
Consider what you do when you create documents. Do you get a few words down and then start working on the headings, their font and size, colour, and other layout features? Before you know it you've probably lost a heap of time without fully resolving your outline content? Or do you wrangle with a prescribed template that seems to have you writing more for a database than for an intended audience?
It's often a good idea to focus on developing a full and simple text version of a creative endeavor before you think about layout, graphics, final sequence, etc. Film makers call this text the treatment and script, we'll refer to it as the course or unit outline. In this project we're going to consider how to fully develop a course in text. Ours will include a summary, objectives, projects, topics and resources. We're going to approach this document as the basis for a full course, made accessible online.
In this project, you will be developing a plain language version of your course outline. You will be taking out words that may be outside some people's vocabulary, you'll be shortening sentences, and reducing the document to 5 key sections or less. And when you're happy that your outline is concise and easy to understand, you'll publish it in such a way so as to make it readily accessible.
- List the objectives for learning. Consider Bloom's Taxonomy as a guide. If you intend to use this course in a formal education setting, ensure that it meets the requirements - such as the Australian Qualification Framework
- When thinking about the curriculum of your course (what people will do) consider a variety of activity, assignments and assessment methods you might use. Also think about flexible learning, online learning, and recognition of prior learning as methods for affording flexibility to people seeking to study your course
- Describe your course in about 250 words. Keep it simple, concise and complete. Use Plain English and the following structure: 1 sentence for the subject matter and level of study. 1-2 sentences for the range of topics and and activities. 1 sentence for professional application. 1 sentence for methods of assessment.
- Find or upload an appropriate image to use in your outline
- List the range of Wikipedia articles that relate to your subject areas in the resources section of your outline, and note their quality.
- Copy the Course outline template to your user page on Wikiversity, and copy the above text into the sections provided in the template. When finished, provide a link to your subject on the discussion page
- Do you really need that section heading? Does your outline begin with the section heading "outline"? It's obvious that the first paragraph is an introduction to the course, and includes key information such as what it's about, what sort of commitment is needed, and what benefits are there in doing the course - such as accreditation and recognition. There's no need to give this paragraph a section heading.
- Outcomes or objectives? Can "learning outcomes" be known before the course has been attempted, or perhaps when an assessment has not yet been conducted? Really then, they're "learning objectives" or "objectives" in most everyone else's terms. Outcomes are known at the end, or after an assessment.
- Assessment or Projects? To a participant in your course, what you call an assessment is probably what they'd recognise as a project, task or assignment. Assessment of a project is a different thing to a project designed to help people show evidence of learning outcomes.
- Try and think about how someone who can't make it to your course events in person could access the event in some way none-the-less. Are your course events recorded, documented and accessible? Are your topics well resourced with a range of information from quick and introductory through to dense and comprehensive? Are your projects flexible enough that someone might be able to follow instructions online, attempt the projects using the topics as resources (those provided and their own), and submit their projects for assessment? Would this afford people greater flexibility in studying your course, and arguably greater access? Are there alternative routes some people take to learning your subject area?
- Copyright. You might not have noticed the copyright on Wikiversity. You better check it out if you haven't already. Copyright is an important feature of accessibility, or more importantly, what it permits or doesn't permit. An accessible course includes it being a reusable course, and reusability can be affected by copyright. For example, consider a participant who takes it upon themselves to create a helpful resource that explains your course.. it could even be your outline in a language other than English, or a screen recording explaining to others how to use your course website. Such work is only possible if your copyrights permit it.
- Put yourself in the mind space of someone looking for information about your course, or the subject of your course. We're assuming that they're using the Internet to search, and that they're in a very distractable state when searching (say for example, not long after putting the kids to bed, and after a long day at work). They might be on a family or shared computer, on a broken computer, or on a phone with a very small window of opportunity. They might be on a mobile phone while on the bus to work, they might be in a library, or maybe even in a remote area with unreliable connectivity. They'll want subject information that is easy to find, in one place, and easy to understand. You want them to be able to find your course and be able to quickly tell for themselves if your course is right for them.
- From the stresses and frustrations of finding information online, we in education have the strange inclination to put up a few extra barriers such as passwords, codes and acronyms, dense systems and navigation, out of date information and more. Start thinking about all these barriers and how necessary they are...
- It is critical then, that your course outline be immediately accessible, concise, and easy to understand, as this is the document that set's up expectations, which can too easily lead to misunderstandings, confusion and frustration.