January 16, 2017

Case Study: Enhancing Moodle Accessibility

Digital Teaching and Learning Hub - Accessibility Section Image

Manish along with Rebecca Marsden, Ann-Marie Houghton and Sue Cranmer from the Educational Research Department set out to identify best practices for adding materials onto Moodle in the ‘Enhancing Moodle Accessibility’ project.  This was urgently needed given that students and staff access Moodle from a range of web-enabled devices and staff may not know how to address this challenge. A key aim of this project was to find ways of disseminating best practice effectively and to create sustainable updating processes.

The team reviewed and analysed accessibility guidance from a range of reliable and relevant sources. More than 120 examples of guidance materials were collected, compared and synthesized. Information from these sources was used to create online guidance for use by Lancaster University staff when creating and updating content hosted within Moodle. The previous guidance related more towards web pages than Moodle.

Manish completed the coding and analysis, for example, by grouping the advice from different sources for Moodle content into themes such as “textual elements”, “graphical elements”, “visual elements” etc. He then created a document that informed the creation of the three webpages with help from others in the team. These deliverables can be accessed from Lancaster University’s Digital Teaching and Learning hub (accessible for Lancaster University members, off site via VPN).

At a recent Postgraduate Certificate of Academic Practice (PG CAP) event, which was also attended by several colleagues visiting from Ghana, totaling around 50 participants, Alison Sharman (ISS) and Rebecca drew on their prior knowledge, and early findings from this project and the related Moodle survey project, when they invited colleagues to critique their learning resources placed on Moodle against web accessibility and usability criteria.  The session was well received and stimulated much discussion amongst the participants.

Detailed Accessibility Advice for Moodle Image

Next steps

Manish’s work has invigorated discussions around accessibility and will be used as the base for a number of further activities, for example, Rebecca and Alison intend to repeat their staff development session during this academic year in order to provide staff with usable guidance to address these issues.

The team will be promoting the new online guidance and the advice contained within them to staff at future events. In March 2017, Manish will be making a presentation at one of Lancaster University’s regular Sharing Practice Event highlighting areas where efforts should continue in order to impact change in the practice of making Moodle accessible.  A version of this presentation will be uploaded to Lancaster University’s Digital Teaching and Learning hub and also to the Student Digital Projects blog.