Inclusion & Accessibility: Designing Course Sites & Websites for Maximum Student Engagement

A typical student is likely...

  • Used to efficient, on-demand information: livin’ la vida information age
  • Expecting to use intuitive and fast technology to achieve daily tasks
  • Believing that communication is key
  • Wanting to reduce stress & effort - as they are often juggling multiple obligations and schedules

10 Data-Driven Design Tips & Tricks

Efficiency: Add captions & transcripts to media

Efficiency: Use icons wisely

  • Use icons to communicate (take a look at The Noun Project and Flaticon)
  • Icons should be simple and clear (don't make them too large either, they should accent your content, not be the center of it).

Intuitive: Consistency is key

  • Location, fonts, and functionalities of items should be the same
  • Internal and external consistency!

Intuitive: Use familiar terminology

  • Avoid technical terms (for example: Rename the tool "Zoom" on your course site to something like "Online Class Session")
  • Ensure your labels sound familiar and simple

Communication: Allow students to track their progress

  • How long will this take me?
  • Where am I in the site?
  • How much of this content have I completed?
  • Where do I pick up next time?

Communication: Communicate process & status

  • Communicate when actions have been taken
  • Give appropriate feedback

Reduce Stress & Effort: Chunk Content & Concepts

  • Present information in bite-sized pieces. Try to limit these chunks to one concept only!
  • The bullet is your friend! It might also be helpful to bold important phrases or keywords.

Reduce Stress & Effort: Practice minimalist design

  • Do not include rarely used information - be ruthless
  • 15 points of information or fewer

Reduce Stress & Effort: Call users to complete important actions

  • Visually differentiate important items
  • Ensure key tasks are available upfront

Reduce Stress & Effort: Prioritize dates and deadlines

  • Dates should be upfront and center
  • Syllabi should be easy to find (it is the nucleus of the course)

Course Sites & Digital Learning

Communicate via various formats

  • Announcement functions
  • Weekly recap emails (this week we learned...)
  • Weekly recap podcasts or webcam videos
  • Forum discussions
  • Social tools, like Slack, to answer questions and promote peer-to-peer collaboration
  • Zoom/Google Hangouts office hours

Provide active learning opportunities

  • Ethnographies/Field Observations
  • Interview Assignments: Video, written, or podcast
  • Roleplaying/Scenario
  • Concept Maps
  • Mood Boards: Using Google Slides student’s use of imagery to form concepts
  • Challenges
  • Gallery Walks: Students bring in artifacts to describe a concept, artifacts are presented around the room for students to walk and discuss. Artifacts can also be put online in a forum on the course site.

Make learning social & collaborative

  • Turn the Tables! Ask students to take over the teaching role and develop online instructional videos or content!
  • Use Google docs for live, real-time collaboration work (study groups or presentation feedback)
  • Host a Subject Matter Expert event online!
  • Checkout group messaging apps like Slack for non-task, non-graded interaction

Provide timely and useful feedback

  • Video record your feedback to students (Zoom or NYU Stream)
  • Have students moderate online discussions via the Forums tool
  • Host online office hours or make yourself available for web convo’s
  • Peer-to-Peer feedback via video dialogue

Differentiate your instruction & the product

  • Text materials (using Library OER)
  • Short instructional videos explaining a concept (no more than 7 minutes)
  • Demonstration or training of concept
  • Short podcasts (interview a leader in the field or bring in an alumnus)
  • Use “study-buddies” to reinforce concepts
  • Roleplay or simulations
  • Gaming

Additional Presentation Information

Here is the link to the presentation from the workshop. We've also written an additional article which describes the persona activity preceding this information. 

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