The essential human element of AI in education

World AI Week represents a unique moment to reflect on how AI has changed the way we work, live, and learn. Many brilliant minds and progressive companies are gathering for the World Summit AI (WSAI) in early October to discuss AI’s potential, and among the many topics of discussion, the role of AI in education will certainly be a hot topic.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has greatly shifted the landscape of technology in education. Overnight, learning worldwide became remote and distributed. What were once simple tasks like distributing and collecting homework or administering an in-class midterm became complex technological challenges, for which our collective tools fell short. However, we also made great strides in closing the gap, and along the way developed, improved, and scaled our technology and products in ways that we never thought possible. We’re proud of how our AI helped instructors by assisting in grouping similar answers to accelerate feedback, our state-of-the-art handwriting recognition that brings a new level of offline-to-online accessibility to our cutting-edge platform and our writing AI that helps students improve the way they write and use citations.

To continue to add a new perspective to this conversation, I asked a number of AI in education experts as well as two faculty members for their thoughts about AI’s role and potential in education.…Read More

Want to be a leader in accessibility?

 [Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the AACC 21st Century Center.]

Visiting a new college campus can be bewildering. Even with appropriate signage it isn’t necessarily easy to navigate to parking, the enrollment office, classrooms, restrooms and other vital services. For people with disabilities or mobility issues, things can be a lot tougher.

Adding to the challenge is that since voters approved the 2008 bond measure, Portland Community College (PCC) has seen extensive construction or renovations at all four campuses and most of its centers, bringing with it temporary detours, closures and office moves.…Read More

4 myths about accessibility and online learning

Those who are in higher education are probably tired of hearing about accessibility. But accessibility awareness is the key point to making courses accessible. Bringing this awareness to faculty on how they design a course had been an ongoing charge for those in higher education that work with course design.

Dispelling myths about accessibility in an online environment

Myth #1: Students with learning differences don’t take online courses.
Many students do not report the need for accommodations in an online course. Why? They have to jump through so many hoops to get an accommodation. First, there’s the letter from Disability Services (how about naming it Accessibility Services?) every semester; then they have to explain the accommodation to the instructor and discuss why the accommodation is needed every semester. And then there is the social stigma attached to reporting an accommodation. This procedure is stressful for students and often hinders student success. But taking an online course is beneficial for students who struggle with social anxiety, who need flexibility, or who need to learn in chunks in a safe environment.

Instead, how about making a course accessible from the beginning? Isn’t online learning supposed to be inclusive?…Read More

How to create accessible video content

By now, you’ve heard (or been told) that your educational video content is required by law to be accessible. Since you’re not the sort to wait until you’re presented with a letter of accommodation, you are eager to get started. What do you need to do?

Educational video usually comes in two basic modes: lecture capture or instructional video. Determine which of these types you are using or intend to use. Lecture capture has a powerful allure: Just walk into a room, teach as usual, and “Presto!” You have a video to use in your online course. This method is fraught with peril when it comes to creating accessible video; ambient room noise, poor audio, bad lighting, and other factors can make lecture capture video a nightmare to make accessible after the fact.

Because of the uncontrolled factors inherent in lecture capture, we recommend that instructors avoid it whenever possible and take the time needed to create pre-produced instructional video. While it’s true that this method takes more time and effort up front, it will result in a more useable and accessible video.…Read More

How to create engaging online assignments with universal design in mind

With the rapid growth of distance learning technologies over the past decade, education has become available to more students than ever. More than 6.3 million American students took at least one online course in fall 2016, a number that continues to increase annually.

Virtual classrooms offer the flexibility to complete assignments around diverse schedules, allowing non-traditional students and working professionals to obtain degrees. However, digital learning environments offer so much more than convenience for learners; they eliminate physical barriers for impaired students who may have difficulty attending class in person.

For example, deaf students may require an interpreter to translate content into American Sign Language for in-person classes. This may lead them to miss interactions or questions from peers while watching the interpreter. However, if videos in online courses include captions or transcripts, they allow hearing-impaired students to receive the same content without needing an accommodation. There are also various tools and technologies available to assist students who may have visual, physical, or cognitive impairments in online courses.…Read More