Exploring the extension of learning technology systems for accessibility (ALT-C 2008)

Douce, Christopher; Cooper, Martyn; Porch, Wendy; White, Juliette and Heath, Andrew (2008). Exploring the extension of learning technology systems for accessibility (ALT-C 2008). In: ALT-C 2008: Rethinking the digital divide, 9-11 Sep 2008, University of Leeds, UK.

URL: http://www.alt.ac.uk/altc2008/


The effective use and application of a learning technology system requires an understanding of the context in which it is used and deployed. The design of an 'off the shelf' system may not, in many cases, immediately reflect the needs of an organisation. As a result a system may have to be modified or updated to ensure it matches an institution or setting in which it is to be deployed. The EU4ALL project (European Unified Approach for Accessible Life Long Learning) is exploring how to enhance the provision of accessible services using MLE/VLE systems. This necessitates understanding how MLE systems can be modified or enhanced.

There are two main areas of technical focus within EU4ALL: how to create a system that delivers learning material that matches the functional preferences of its users, and how to connect a MLE to an external infrastructure to enable learners to be directly connected to institutional support services. Both these areas require developers to extend and work with existing systems.

This presentation outlines some of the preliminary findings surrounding the malleability of learning technology systems gathered in the context of the EU4ALL project. A number of dimensions of extensibility regarding two significant systems, .LRN and Moodle are highlighted, illustrating a number of challenges the EU4ALL project faces. Some of these challenges, especially regarding the area of service-oriented architectures (SOA) are outlined and potential solutions presented.

The participants will gain a greater awareness about how it is possible to extend MLE systems and connect them to external infrastructures and architectures. The work that is presented emphasises the importance of accessibility in e-learning and illustrates how the EU4ALL project could step towards presenting learners with materials and services that are customised to meet their precise needs.

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