Six issues related to creating accessible e-learning

1) The games that institutions play 

North and Konur use the concept of game playing teams to e-learning and accessibility. Who are these teams, how equal is the power distribution between them, what role do they play and what rules – formal or informal – do they apply to safeguard accessible e-learning?

2) The regulation and enforcement of formal and informal rules of accessibility

Is the development of accessibility practices in higher education influenced by differences between the formal and informal rules of accessibility? How are the formal and informal rules of accessibility being regulated and enforced within an HE institution? Given the conflict, or inconsistency, between formal and informal rules – for example, a new law requires a change in study material design overnight often as a result of legislation and between informal constraints – for example, conventions and norms of behaviour.  (Possibly issue 2 is either a continuation of issue 1, or depending on how you see these informal and formal rules ‘playing out’ then issue 1 is the conclusion to issue 2)

3) Having a mutually agreed common purpose, outcome or goal behind collaboration.
This can be seen in the context of an Activity System as conceived by Engestrom – so finding a method or theory that can help us understand how different stakeholder groups in higher education institutions might form a community and are therefore motivated and drive to work together developing as coherent community of practice. It can also be seen in the context of other concepts and methods used for problem solving in business, such as the McKinsey 7S, but potentially including a variety of approaches to creative problem solving .

4) To identify and fix problems (contradictions, conflicts, problems, ruptures)  that are getting in the way of achieving an outcome

And to do so to see it as an activity system – transformation of an object into an outcome. i.e. to create accessible e-learning. And if you commit to using a model such as an Activity System then do so with courage, conviction and expertise. Are there contradictions between central components of an accessible e-learning system and can the identification of these contradictions help to develop and progress future practice? And if using an activity system as the concept or model does it have  history of development and is that history influencing future development? Kuutti and Engestrom. (As with issue 4, a variety of models or schemas have credence from business management and creative problem solving).

5) Appropriate tools

The tools are faulty or inadequate, or it is because the users are faulty and ignorant or there is too wide an array of tools, which are changing in what they can do all the time – and are never in any case a panacea. It  is confusing for practitioners and makes it difficult for them to choose. Depending on where these fit in they are an artifact or engender conflict or create problems as they will always be incomplete and flawed. 
(If you needs a lawn-mower, hover mower and clippers to cut the lawn why not dig it up and concrete over?)

6) ‘Design for all’ probably requires a commitment to ‘design by all’

What you conclude working with an activity system (probably making this the conclusion to 4 rather than an issue in its own right). It may also be the conclusion to working with constellation of practice too.

So I guess, I can pick three issues from the above by merging issues 1 and 2, 4 and 6 … and then 3 and 4. a) The issue is to agree how rules, whether formal or informal, are used b) The issue is to identify and fixing problems which can be achieved by using an Activity System c) Tools have their uses, so the solution isn’t to abandon all or use one, but to get your head around what works where and why, then apply it and be prepared to adjust as things change – as they do.

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