Sunday, June 10, 2007

Authoring Tools

Harrison, L., Richards, J., & Treviranus, J. Building accessible curriculum and courseware tools; education beyond the campus. University of Toronto: Adaptive Resource Center.

It is certain that of the many benefits of distance education utilizing the Internet, the ability to customize a course for those with physical disabilities is widely recognized. Dozens of articles in dozens of print and web published journals explain that for those with movement, visual, or audio disabilities, distance education grants access to courses and degrees that were previous unattainable. However, one subject that must receive more focus in order to increase the impact of distance education is its use in combination with the wealth of resources on the web to augment a particular course. Distance education has many selling points; many of them pertain to its convenience. Those who have used distance education however are aware of an intrinsic value that separates what is learned on the Internet versus in the classroom. Many of them would argue that the act of researching on their own, and learning by doing in the context of the vast information of Internet not only makes distance education valuable but superior to traditional classroom format. These results can and will be document, quantified, studied and refined as distance education continues to grow as a major force in education in America. Success may lie in the way computers store and communicate information. It may lie in distance educations ability to gather information to improve current courses.
As distance education grows, an increasing amount of people will become comfortable working in a digital environment. To communicate effectively those students will have to work with authoring tools to create their own websites. “A grassroots approach, beginning with authoring tools, will mean that accessible design becomes the status quo, rather than an additional effort undertaken by designers who have awareness of the potential problems (Harrison, L., Richards, J., Treviranus, J. 2007). The next decade will bring momentous change in both the fields of authoring tools and distance education. One can only ponder where developments can take educators and students as the future is as bright as ever.

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