Andy Beggan, Dean of Digital Education, LALT – Staff Profile
Dr. Michael Shaw, Digital Education Consultant, LALT – Staff Profile
As part of the 2021 Blackboard Catalyst Award, the Digital Education Team at the University of Lincoln presented on Blackboard Ally and how it had been used to improve digitally inclusive practice. This presentation focuses on:
- The key strategies that were implemented to develop awareness of digitally inclusive practice.
- The use of templates and their role in supporting academics.
- The impact of the implementation across the University.
With the implementation of the EU Accessibility Directive 2016, all websites created after 23rd September 2018 will have to be accessible by 23rd September 2019 and existing websites will have to comply by 23rd September 2020. At Lincoln, we interpreted, like many across the sector, that this requirement also extended to Blackboard and the learning resources published to it. Understanding that accessible learning content benefits everyone, as it is easier to understand, more organised, and allows you to reach a wider audience with more flexible and adaptive content, it was a moral, legal and pedagogical driver to enhance the accessibility of all our learning resources.
To address this, the University undertook a strategic and co-ordinated series of activities to enhance awareness and adoption of accessible practice in design and delivery. Led by a cross function steering group (with academic, SU and professional service representation), the University has delivered a step-change in the adoption and use of accessible learning, building upon the accessible features inherent within our digital learning ecosystem, embedded res-usable exemplars and targeted support activities. In the summary, the impact for AY2021 has seen:
- A 42.5% increase in the average accessibility score of learning materials in just one year,
- A rapid increase in the adoption of captions on our video learning resources (on one instance over 30% when compared to the same month the previous year),
- A clear, consistent land coherent learning journey for Blackboard module delivery,
- An enhanced appreciation of the importance of accessibility and inclusivity in teaching and learning across the University.