Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Switch to Online Courses Presents Challenges for Students with Disabilities

Slate has an article about how universities are switching from using original content generated by professors to online courses produced by the major textbook companies. It's a very disturbing trend.

My child is taking one of these Pearson math courses in college right now. Ze also took an online math course in high school. The high school version was great for a student like hir who could zip through all of the assignments at hir own pace by utilizing resources like Youtube for learning concepts that weren't explained well by the course material. Ze says the math course ze's in now is going well. Still, I worry about students with other kinds of disabilities.

Students who need screen readers or video captions are going to face barriers because of the way that many of the sites are set up. I seriously doubt that the companies are going to produce alternate versions of each course's material in order to accommodate students with disabilities. So, what are these students supposed to do when these online courses are used for the majority of freshmen and sophomore level classes? This is obviously the direction that things are headed. As usual, people with disabilities are the first to be sacrificed when Western educational models mutate.

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