1. List the two levels of testing as outlined in the presentation and discuss each one in turn. Then describe the types of testing activities for each level of testing.
The main idea of Dr. Newberry’s podcast was to inform us of the different types and levels of testing done to make sure that online learning materials are useful and effective, which includes the following, “testing done to ensure the fidelity of the media used to present the material and testing done to ensure that the material presented leads to the desired student outcomes”. Of the two, testing media fidelity is the easiest to perform considering the fact that it has to do more with the technical aspects of an online course, where as testing instructional quality is more based on content. Whether one is easier to test than the other does not signify that the importance of one dominates the other, both must equally be well tested since they are key to a good end product.
Technical Media Fidelity Type of Testing:
- First thing to test when testing media fidelity is to make sure that the final product is complete and of course acceptable quality. Most likely this is done by the creator, if not created by a single individual, then the person who owns the gold version of the media would run this test.
- A more elaborate manner of testing media fidelity requires to test the media when it is about to be released for the consumer to try. The typical way of doing so requires an individual to review and utilize the material as if they are the ones who will be learning from the online learning materials. This gives the individual who is trying the product to make sure that everything works properly. Another way to test if the product is performing the way it should would be to run web-based validation checkers, which checks HTML code, CSS coding and ADA compliance. The degree at which the creator decides to test the product depends greatly on the scale of the project. When it is a small-scale development the degree of testing is small since changes can be made later on with greater ease, as opposed to large-scale developments where making changes becomes very difficult.
- Another level of media fidelity testing is said to be sophisticated since the developer must test the media under different circumstances that the user creates. For example, users may use different web browsers and different software, in this case the best way to pursue this is to test the media by running different browsers and with different software installations. Similarly, the creator must keep in mind the bandwidth and network performance differences that may arise, so he or she must test the material in locations similar to those who will be using the material.
- Last but not least, media fidelity testing should include testing to ensure that individuals who have disabilities can access and utilize the online learning materials. This is a matter of following the laws and polices set to protect those with disabilities and following the Do’s and Dont’s guidelines when creating material that should be accessible to everyone. Examples of some of the guidelines include high contrast for color blindness, text version for low vision, avoid strobes for those who have seizures, captioning videos for those with auditory problems and navigability issues for those with little motor-ability.
Content Focused Instructional Quality Testing:
- According to Dr. Newberry, “this type of testing occurs in many stages along the development cycle for the materials being created [and] the key to this type of testing is to ensure that the materials that are created result in the desired student outcomes”.
- Before the developer can begin with the first level of instructional quality testing, he or she must set the objectives. After this is done the creator will have a subject matter expert(s) review the media design plan, since they are the most qualified individuals to do this job. This can be done in various steps, for example, Dr. Newberry mentioned working on a project where two levels of subject matter experts were asked to review the material. The first level subject experts reviewed the content to make sure that the topics chosen for the program were the most important and appropriate according to their expertise. Second level subject experts took it a step forward and reviewed the outline of the presentations created to successfully address every topic in the subject area. Overall the testing is reviewed by many and through various steps in order to get the best results.
- Lastly there is the beta test with actual students, where the results of the learning outcomes from the use of the materials will give the developer an idea of whether or not the materials are actually working towards its main objective.
2. What is ADA and how does it apply to the design and development of eLearning materials?
ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act which came into effect in 1990. This act, “is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else”(ADA National Network). The Americans with Disabilities Act is important to consider and keep in mind when designing and developing eLearning material, not only is it required by law but it is also important to be considerate and open minded as to who your audience will be. To design and develop eLearning material we must keep in mind the content, instructor and most importantly the student. Before this podcast I never really thought about those who have disabilities and it is something that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked because once the final product is created it can be difficult to make adjustments. Even if more work is required it shouldn’t matter, because as educators we should meet the needs of the students. I conducted further research on this topic and found the Learning Solutions Magazine website very useful, below is a chart of various disabilities and design techniques to help the students.
Table 1 Summary of disability and design techniques
|Disability||Type/Group||Common Characteristics||Design Techniques|
|Acquired Brain Injury||Cognitive||Deficits in language and communication, information processing, memory and perceptual skill challenges, balance, fine motor skills, strength and endurance.||
|Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)||Cognitive||Distractible, impulsive, inattentive, difficulty staying on task, having many projects going on at one time and rarely completing any of them||
|Asperger’s Syndrome||Cognitive||Difficulty in articulating due to abnormalities of inflection, may display repetitive speech, and typically have gross motor difficulties.||
|Auditory Perceptual Deficit||Cognitive||Challenges in understanding and remembering oral instructions, differentiating between similar sounds, may hear inaccurately, or have challenges hearing one sound over a background noise.||
|Autism||Cognitive||Difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication and social interactions, may process and respond to information in unique ways, display uneven gross or fine motor skills, and may be non-responsive to verbal cues.||
|Bipolar disorder||Psychological||Lack of motivation, difficulty doing tasks, short attention span.||
|Dyslexia||Cognitive||Difficulty with word recognition, may display a slow rate of reading, difficulty with spelling and written composition, and difficulty taking notes.||
|Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)||Chronic Health||Difficulty concentrating, experience migraine headaches, photosensitivity, and temperature sensitivity.||
|Depression||Psychological||Lack of motivation, difficulty doing tasks, short attention span.||
|Epilepsy||Chronic Health||Limitations in memory, disorientation, disorganization, time management, performing or completing tasks, difficulty using office equipment including the computer, limitations in motor abilities, and limitations associated with photosensitivity including using the computer and alternative lighting.||
|Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS)||Chronic Health||Widespread pain and severe fatigue all over the body or in one particular region, may have difficulty concentrating, experience gross and fine motor impairments, and weakness.||
|Lupus||Chronic Health||Joint and muscle pain, fatigue, photosensitivity, fine and gross motor impairment, cognitive impairment, and fatigue.||
|Multiple Sclerosis (MS)||Chronic Health||Difficulty walking, experience numbness or feelings of pins and needles, have pain and loss of vision, undergo inflammation of the optic nerve, experience lack of coordination, may have slurred speech, may face cognitive impairment, fatigue, fine and gross motor impairment, heat sensitivity, and vision and speech impairment.||
|Sensory Integration Dysfunction||Cognitive||Difficulty registering and processing information from five senses (vision, auditory, touch, olfaction, and taste).||
|Visual Perceptual Deficit||Cognitive||Challenges picking out an object from a background of other objects or seeing things in correct order.||
3. What is your institutions (You may use CSUSB’s) policy towards ADA and eLearning? Explain what this means in practical terms and what you think the strengths and weaknesses of the policy.
I tried to find CSUSB’s policy towards ADA and eLearning but didn’t have any luck, instead I just found ADA policies and procedures along with a 76 page long PDF that mentions the services to students with disabilities. The ADA policies and procedures webpage states the following,”CSUSB has a responsibility to comply with ADA regulations for faculty, staff, students and visitors. This responsibility takes the form of reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities as well as facility access for persons with disabilities”. In the PDF file it states the rights of students with disabilities at CSUSB to be to have equal access to courses, programs, services, jobs, activities, and facilities available through the University. If special accommodations are needed the student must request it and inform the school, then it goes through a six step process to come to a solution to better accommodate the student. The six step process is the following,
- Identification of the interest, problem or concern.
- An analysis of the factors involved, including cost and funding sources. *
- A review of the alternatives possible, including cost.
- A response to the originator of the item.
- Implementation of the solution.
- Closure of the process.
*Funding for individual applicant and employee ADA reasonable accommodation is addressed in the University budget policy.
This process is followed by the ADA management groups which include, ADA Compliance Officer and Associate Vice President of Human Resources, Director of Services to Students with Disabilities, Director of Facilities Services and Director of Capital Planning, Design and Construction. Overall the ADA policies and procedures are well put together and address the main questions that a student with disabilities would have. However, it has three main weaknesses, first of all there is no section for eLearning it mostly focuses on student accessibility to buildings and physical classroom learning. It also does not include a Director for eLearning, which should be included since eLearning is a growing field in education. Lastly, accommodations are only made if the school’s budget allows the changes to be made. This is the biggest weaknesses and probably the most difficult to solve since it involves money getting in the way of students with disabilities learning experience.
4. Revisit the 11 instructional design steps presented in chapter 1 of the text (Design Quickly and Reliably).* Revise this 11 step system using what you now know about development and testing. Try to create your own instructional design process/template that you might actually use. Briefly explain your modifications.
*11 step instructional design process as presented in the text
- Identify your underlying goal
- Analyze learners’ needs and abilities (Add an analysis of content and instructor needs/abilities/preferences.)
- Identify what to teach
- Set learning objectives
- Identify prerequisites
- Pick the approach to meet each objective
- Decide the teaching sequence of your objectives
- Create objects to accomplish objectives
- Create tests (Add other methods to determine whether or not objectives are met as appropriate.)
- Select learning activities
- Choose Media (Add a discussion of activity structures and interactions.)
- Analyze learners’s needs and abilities (Add an analysis of content and instructor needs/abilities/preferences)
- a. Identify your underlying goal, b. Identify what to teach, c. Set learning objectives, d. Identify prerequisites
- a. Pick the approach to meet each objective, b. Decide the teaching sequence of your objectives
- a. Create objects to accomplish objectives, b. Create tests (Add other methods to determine whether or not objectives are met as appropriate.), c. Select learning activities, d. Choose Media (Add a discussion of activity structures and interactions)
After revising the 11 step instructional design steps presented in Chapter 1 I would make several modifications to the order and would put some steps together since some steps seem to overlap with the others. First and foremost as an online course designer I would concentrate heavily on the audience. Learners taking the course are the ones who will want and need to benefit from the program so their needs and abilities are extremely important, and as we learned in this week’s session we must keep in mind the disabilities of our students as well. In this same step I will also analyze the content of the instructor(s) since all elements are important for the decisions that will be made further into the process. I decided to combine steps 1, 3, 4 and 5 since they all require deciding what what the objectives will be and what skills will be required from the students, it will basically be the “skeleton” of the online course. For the next group I put together steps 6 and 7 due to the fact that they are both steps that focus on brainstorming the type of media that will be created, this is important to do before making any final decisions on media. The next group of steps I believe will be one of the most time consuming since it will require testing and taking many things into consideration. In the last final four steps all the attention is focused on how the material will be delivered. Withing these steps we must again keep in mind the students with disabilities, provide Absorb, Do and Connect activities, provide media that allows Student-Student, Student-Content and Student-Instructor interaction and most importantly testing the eLearning materials before it is too late.