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Starting from scratch – Keep it simple! Blackboard, remote access and accessibility issues

 Accessibility is not only about designing material for people with a range of learning styles and learning needs. It is also about the issues involved with using Blackboard off site. Students and staff use a wide variety of computers and connections and we need to think about how to set up Blackboard courses to make them easy to access.

What are the things we should be making clear to staff about how they put their courses together?

  • Simple course structure –
    • Label everything with exactly what is available under each button and in each folder
    • Clearly highlight what is only available for those with a fast connection.
  • Small files – Don’t go in for large file downloads if at all possible.
  • Not too many graphics – People will lose patience if it doesn’t download quickly
  • No animation/video at this stage – it’s too difficult at the moment to do this effectively without broadband.
  • Teach students how to zip/unzip files – If you really have to use a large file, it might be the only option.
  • Explain to students about file management, file sizes and download times. Staff aren’t always clued up about file management so why should we assume students are?

In the same way that we encourage staff to look at making their own materials clear, logical and easy to follow, as well as usable by as many people as possible, we need to teach them to structure their courses in the same way. Understandably, students will get frustrated if they are unable to find what they want on Blackboard, or are having to spend 20 minutes waiting for a file to download.



Author: Ellen Lessner

22 January 2005

VLE: Blackboard



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