The Key Partnerships for Designing Accessible Online Classes [TRANSCRIPT]
ELISA EDELBERG: Thanks for joining this webinar entitled The Key Partnerships for Designing Accessible Online Classes. My name is Elisa Edelberg from 3PlayMedia, and I’ll be moderating today. I’m joined here by Dawn Hunziker, IT Accessibility Consultant, and Janet Smith, Instructional Designer, Quality Initiatives, both from the University of Arizona. And with that, I’ll hand it off to Dawn and Janet, who have a wonderful presentation prepared for you today.
DAWN HUNZIKER: Awesome. So today, we’re talking about Universal Design for Learning, Accessibility, and Quality Assurance, and the collaborations that are happening at the University of Arizona for accessible online classes. My name is Dawn Hunziker, and I am the IT Accessibility Consultant. I’m housed out of the Disability Resource Center at the University. But I do work across campus in all things related to IT and accessibility on campus.
JANET SMITH: My name’s Janet Smith. And I am an Instructional Designer, heading up our Quality Assurance initiatives for the Office of Digital Learning. Our office is the production house for UA Online courses.
DAWN HUNZIKER: And one of the things that we wanted to mention is that we will try to answer questions as you have them. So if you have a question about something that we’re talking about, please feel free to go ahead and ask that question, and we’ll answer it if we’re able to.
JANET SMITH: So the first thing we wanted to address was the “why do we do it.” Why is it important to us that there be these collaborations around UDL accessibility and quality assurance? And when we began in 2015– UA Online began in 2015 as a distinct campus– the vision was really to create this quality online experience. And as our leaders looked around at the landscape, they wanted a process in place to ensure quality and to move towards being more proactive around accessibility.
UA Online actually has a huge benefit to campus. If you look at the numbers up on the screen, the U of A, as a total enrollment number, is at about 42,000 students– so we are definitely a large campus– many of those being main campus residential students. UA Online has about 1,000. It’s probably a little bit higher now.
And because UA Online courses are co-convened with main campus online courses, what we call iCourses, that what we do for our UA Online courses has a much broader impact on the campus than just what we do for UA Online. So that accessible experience can have a huge potential impact on the community.
DAWN HUNZIKER: So the numbers of students with disabilities enrolled in UA Online is numbering right around 50. For the main campus, we have right around 2,300. And so with that information, we have about 5 and 1/2% of students with disabilities in both campuses.
But we are seeing that there is a trend towards students with disabilities not self-disclosing their disability status with our office when they enroll, initially, in an online campus. So for example, we have a student who has muscular dystrophy. And he did not self-disclose that he was attending UA Online courses until he ran into some questions when he was taking an exam and unable to pick up his laptop to show that he didn’t have anybody else in the room, or any notes on the screen, or anything.
And at that point, we entered into discussions with the instructor, and the student, and the proctoring service about that type of access. So we do see a trend where we’re really keeping the number of disclosures, in terms of disability status, at a lower point with our online campus.
JANET SMITH: So next, we’re going to talk about who we are and really give you a feel to understand the impact of our team structure and how we collaborate to ensure access and universally designed courses. And one of the things I want to note is that this is an ongoing process. This isn’t a one-and-done. We are talking continually. We’re partnering. We’re always approaching things from a different perspective. So this is definitely an ongoing project.
What you see here is a slide that talks about silos and how we cut across the silos. And what we’re displaying in this is that the Disability Resource Center, the Office of Digital Learning, and then there’s main campus partners– we’re all working together. And there’s overlap in each of those areas.
So in terms of accessibility, that’s a huge lift, a huge thing to tackle, for any one department. So we want to make sure that we design courses to be accessible and not make it such an individualized process, where we’re tackling each course, one course at a time, but rather really designing some templates, some processes, that will address accessibility in a bigger scope of things.
And we work to cut across the silos in order to collaborate and make sure that accessibility is across the board. We’re all working towards this, we’re all working towards universal design, and we’re all headed towards the same goal of creating an environment that promotes student success.
So in terms of the Disability Resource Center, the role on campus for our unit is that accommodation, individual accommodation, reactive processes. So a student enrolls in a course and is presented a barrier, then we step in and tackle that, as an accommodation.
But as part of that, we also talk to that instructor at that point about universal design for learning technique. If they’re with you and they don’t mind, then we also maybe reconnect with the instructional designer and look at– maybe the course is generally universally designed, and there’s this one component that was added in at the last minute that maybe changed the universal design inclusiveness of the course that we just need to figure out.
But we also talk about– our department also looks at best practices and systemic changes in campus environment. So we’re not just focused on the individual accommodations. We’re also looking at those bigger systemic changes, like physical access environment and the IT facility environment. And then we all contribute to the goal of access on campus.
And I think one of the things that’s key in this is that trainings and collaborations are the key point, the key element, in making sure that we’re all together and moving in the same direction.
DAWN HUNZIKER: So within each of these departments, we all have our individual teams, of course. But because we all agree that we want to see these systemic changes in the areas of access and inclusivivity happening, we know that we need to be able to create more flexible team collaborations around specific goals, and also around people’s strengths. One of the things that the Office of Digital Learning is really committed to, in terms of process, is making it a “people first process,” as opposed to deciding what the workflow should be and stuffing people into that.
So when we identify folks who are really interested in access and inclusivity, we want those folks and the passion that they bring to those topics at the table with us, helping to address the challenges and then go out into their areas and continue to be a champion for those topics and in their department.
So like Dawn mentioned, we have main campus partners who sit in particular academic units. And they are instructional designers or instructional technologists. But they are also following those UA Online standards. And we see that even within those, it goes beyond just the UA Online courses to the iCourses. And we even see some folks starting to take those same principles into some of their face-to-face teaching and learning experiences as well.
We also have instructional design special interest groups. We have what we call the solution design challenge meeting, which actually, over the past couple of months, has been focused on universal design for learning and really just opening up the conversation to find out what do people know, identifying practices that they are already engaged in that maybe they didn’t realize were UDL principles. And then there’s some other technology focus groups on campus as well.
So lots of opportunities for people to plug in where they feel like it will be a good fit, both for their interests and their current work role. The other big thing that we do is– going back to that lowering the lift– is our instructional designers, and our visual designer, and myself have come up with what we call a design set within D2L, which is our LMS for campus.
And that design set is already going to address a lot of the issues that we see in online courses when instructors are asked to create their own. If some of you are instructors, you know that when you go to develop an online course, sometimes what that looks like is you were handed a blank shell and sort of sent on your way to treat that course. And then if you need help, you first have to ask for that help. You have to seek it out.
So we wanted to mitigate that a little bit by creating these design sets. So some of the items that we make sure are addressed in the design sets, to the best of our ability, is to look at how the colors– the color contrast, the size of the fonts, the amount of white spaces, the navigation– making it easy for students to find things that they need. So that’s kind of how the design sets operate so that there’s one less thing that instructors have to do.
So there is a question that asks about– that we mentioned we cut across silos and everybody is working towards that, but addressing how we rolled it out and got buy-in from faculty. And what about faculty who are too busy to make their content accessible. So what we’re doing is, like Janet said, if we’re creating these designs that really kind of lower that– it gives them a template that’s already accessible. So if they implement their course material using that template, then they’re already 90% there in terms of having their content in an accessible way.
How does that work in terms of instructors who are too busy to find an accessible PDF, for example? That’s really where the Disability Resource Center just steps in and serves as an accommodation piece for the student. And then at the end of the semester, we do reach out to that instructor and say, hey, we either found accessible PDFs for your course, or we have created accessible versions of your PDFs, and provide those documents to the instructor as an option to add into their course. I can tell you that we have a low occurrence of faculty actually importing those documents. But it does happen on occasion.
And then the other piece of that is just– buy-in from the faculty is the training, so the instructional designers making sure that the instructors are aware of the fact that an accessible PDF isn’t just for someone who has a disability and using assistive technology. It also increases access for individuals using mobile devices, laptop, desktop, maybe individuals who are in areas, rural areas, where the network isn’t as fast.
So it’s definitely a work in progress. I can’t say that we are perfect in that. But it is definitely continuing to go through that process.
JANET SMITH: And I would say with in terms of the rollout, we have some sort of plans in the works with some initiatives around UDL that we do want to have a more formal rollout around. But on this particular issue, as some of you have probably experienced occasionally, talking about accessibility and UDL can be a little bit of a trigger for folks. So we sometimes, instead of going into a departmental meeting and saying, these are the things that we’re doing, and these are the things we’d like you to get on board with, we really start with a relationship building, which is what our instructional designers, what Dawn and her group do, where we let them know that we’re here to support them, that it’s less about having a mandate, particularly around the UDL.
I mean, there’s legal things, of course, through the accommodations, the accessibility. But for some of those grayer areas, we want to come from a place of, we are here to support you. We are here to do some informal educating of you, and have a conversation around what one or two things could you implement in this iteration of the course and allow it to be a little bit more of a grassroots movement, as opposed to a top-down movement.
And I can say that in say– I’ve been at the university for 20 years. And I can count the number of faculty that are really truly resistant to improving their course on one hand. I mean, it’s just– I think that the faculty here at the University of Arizona are great, and very supportive, and love knowing that they have resources that they can tap into, and continue to improve their course, and make sure that all students are included in their education.
There was a question asked about what if we can share or show the template. And that is part of what we’ll do in just a minute.
So as a campus, we have this very complex task of thinking about the technology, the pedagogy, the design, and the evaluation of these online courses. And we knew that we weren’t going to be able to do that with a single approach, that it was going to take sort of a multi-tiered approach to be able to accomplish what we set out to do.
So what we’re going to talk about next is what we do and talk about the IT facility and our campus collaborations to create accessible learning in IT environments. And we’re going to click. There we go– multiple approaches. So there are multiple approaches to how we’re tackling this.
In terms of the reactive area, we have accommodations, as I mentioned. Those legacy courses, they’ve been around for years, where the instructor’s using a PDF or a document from five, six, eight years ago, and they’ve never changed it. They migrate the course from semester to semester. We all know that those exist. And so that’s really where the DRC steps in to work with that.
But with a lot of the courses, when UA Online started, some of those legacy courses were migrated into UA Online without really designing it from the ground up. So that presented a challenge. And at this point, we’re now entering into a process, a stage where those initial courses on UA Online are being reviewed, and looking at, can we implement the new look, the new feel, the accessibility, the universal design, and approaching that ground-up challenge.
The solution in terms of accommodations we all know is iteration. And you keep repeating the same task over and over for each individual class. And that’s where the DRC, I think, really excels in this in that we have, in terms of our accommodation team, we have six full-time staff members, and 20 student workers that look at the accommodations of note-taking, testing accommodations, document conversion, captioning, and working to make sure that all of those pieces are happening for students.
And an innovative technology is another reactive piece because invariably you’ll have an instructor that says, oh, my gosh, I just found this great technology, and I want to implement in my class for the semester, and doesn’t think about accessibility until there is a student with disability in the course. And then we kind of have to backpedal a little bit and figure out what’s going on. Can we work around that? Are there other ways that we can accomplish the same project while we work with the vendor to address accessibility of that product?
So in terms of being proactive, we are always looking, for example, digital content. We do that partly, once again, through our design specs that we use. We also work with faculty to read research for articles that might now have accessible versions. And I sort of lead that charge in our office and have some student workers who are able to help me with that.
We also want to be looking at how are we building out, with a lot of intention, the UDL framework that is going to clearly identify what that means to us, and what the tangible design elements and benchmarks are going to be. And that is something that we are still exploring as a team because we don’t want to roll something out that we’re not really ready to fully implement and implement it well.
And then last is the pedagogy piece, so making sure that the correct tools are being used for the correct purpose. So a lot of times, we have an enterprise-level instance of VoiceThread on our campus. And if you’re not familiar with VoiceThread, it’s a visual discussion board. You can do video, audio, or text-based discussions in there. It’s a very powerful tool.
But we sometimes see folks implementing that as a lecture tool. And that causes some issues for students that have accommodations because now, the DRC is needing– since it’s intended to be a product that is sort of created on the go, and it’s a discussion tool, that creates an additional challenge for the DRC to get those things captioned in time. So we want to make sure that we absolutely are not going to discourage the use of VoiceThread. But we might ask an instructor, is this the best tool to deliver your lecture content?
We also have Panopto as our embedded video tool and D2L. So we might suggest to them that, well, I’m seeing what you’re doing with VoiceThread, and I actually think that Panopto is still the best tool. If you want to use VoiceThread, let’s find some other ways to implement that in your course.
So if we need to fluff out a tool for something else to make it accessible, we want to already know what the purpose is. And again, that helps Dawn and her group to then go out and make those decisions on the accommodations side.
DAWN HUNZIKER: And in terms of VoiceThread and Panopto, I mean, we really look at how the instructor is using the product. And it just means– Panopto is a little more hands-off for us, where we can just check a box and it automatically gets captioned. We don’t have to worry about it again for the rest of the semester, whereas VoiceThread is very much a manual process where we have to watch for new videos and watch for new posts, and then make sure that they get captioned if there’s a deaf or hard-of-hearing student.
There was a question about audio description in the chat. And right now, we’re still in a place where we are working on captioning videos in class. So the way that we’re set up for captioning is classroom-type accommodations. So if there’s a deaf or hard-of-hearing student enrolled in the course, the accommodation is provided through the DRC, and we take care of the captioning.
If that student is blind, and there’s videos in the course, then we talk with the student. And so far the students that we’ve talked with who are blind or visually impaired have not requested the audio description piece. Mostly, that’s because the videos instructors are choosing are very clear cut videos. They’re not just videos with music background and it’s showing– they actually talk the student through that process along with showing visually what’s going on. So at this point, we haven’t had to approach audio description, but we do have a plan to take care of that if that is a request on the student side.
In terms of our marketing material and our public content, we’re still working on a plan for that.
So there is a question about expanding on VoiceThread or Panopto. I think we kind of explained that. Panopto is really a lecture capture solution. So I can actually start that product, and it will record me. It will record what’s on my screen. And it’s really a tool to create a video that’s capturing what’s happening. And you could use it to create videos ahead of time for class lectures, for example, if you’re flipping new classrooms.
So it’s a lot like Kaltura, if people are using Kaltura, whereas VoiceThread, if you go to VoiceThread.com, you’ll see that there’s a lot of interactive ways that people can use VoiceThread. And the way that it’s typically used is that an instructor will provide a prompt. And then they ask the students to respond to that prompt. So if you think of it as a discussion board, but it includes a visual, so I can create a video of myself responding to the instructor’s prompt. It could be that I want to call in. I want to type my response. So I have different ways of responding to that instructor’s prompt.
In terms of deaf-blindness, that isn’t a disability that we have on campus just yet. So I don’t know– we would work with that as that accommodation, as that need would arise. We would pull together as a team and work on that information and on that accommodation.
And [? Shei-Lin, ?] we can both speak a little bit to how we’re handling the point that you brought up about the federal regulations not requiring them to be requested, and that everything needs to be accessible. And is that for public– is that just for public safety? Or is that across the board? Or [? Shei-Lin, ?] if you know.
New federal regulations– so we’re still very much in the process of– let me back up a little bit. I think the way to answer your question, [? Shei-Lin, ?] is that what we do is we proactively– so if we know a student is in a course, we proactively go out and look at that course content to see if we see any barriers. So we’re not requiring the students to say, hey, I’m seeing inaccessible PDFs, or there’s videos in this course, and I need captioning, or I need an accessible version of that document. We’re actually proactively going out and looking at those in cases where the students have self-disclosed that they have a disability.
And in terms of UA Online, we are very much working toward that structure where we do have an accessible platform right from the get-go, and the documents are accessible, and the captioning is there for the videos. It’s just taking time to get fully into that place, if you will. And I think we’re all kind of familiar with that in terms of that access. But since the courses still require enrollment, we do have that control piece that we can approach that accessibility piece.
JANET SMITH: Some of the things that UA Online has in the works and are slowly being rolled out to make sure that more of our content is accessible from the beginning is having an accessible syllabus initiative, where we’re able to help instructors understand how to better format their documents so that we don’t have to do as much retroactive pieces around that.
We are currently captioning all of our public facing content. And we are making some plans for how to start working through the videos that have been produced, that are inside D2L.
And there’s a lot of different types of video produced. So right now, for the UA Online site, we are working on cataloging all the videos that we have created since we started. And then we’ll see what’s actually still being used in courses. And then we plan on making a prioritized list and to start working through those and getting them captioned.
DAWN HUNZIKER: So one of the things that Janet just mentioned is, we’re still very much a work in progress. This is still progressing. This is still moving forward. And it’s tackling items as we’re moving forward. So you know, it may be that for XYZ class, a deaf or hard-of-hearing student is enrolled in that course. And the DRC captions that content. We just make sure that those captions are built into the future iterations of that course so that that course is then fully accessible.
And then there was a question about Panopto auto-captions that are not accurate. And you’re absolutely right that you need to go in and correct those. We rely on captioning vendors to caption our course-related content. We don’t produce those captions using auto-captions or in-house areas of functionality of processes.
Moving on. So how we do it. I think this’ll help clarify some of the questions you all are having as well in terms of looking at the techniques and technologies that we’re using for innovative courses, which also includes accessibility. And as Janet mentioned, this is really people over process.
JANET SMITH: So in our academic environment, we know that changes can come at us pretty fast and furious. And as we want to be able to have a process in place to be able to move forward and build that process to meet our needs as they come up– so we are continuously reevaluating our process to improve things, and to streamline it. Faculty is referred back to instructional designers for tools and resources.
We’ve come from a place where DRC is not considered the sole expert. They are one resource that we want to rely on for accessibility. But we really want to stress that collaboration piece, and the other way around as well. So as faculty comes to somebody in my office, one of the instructional designers, and they need help with a particular accessibility piece, or they say, hey, I have a student who’s requested accommodations, we make sure that we’re referring them directly back to Dawn and her people so that all the right folks can be at the table together to get those problems solved and to get those challenges taken care of.
So with our process, when we look at technology, we encourage innovation. We’re a Research I institution. So we’re pretty fast moving. And there was a question about choosing accessible vendors. And that’s built into our RFP process. So if we are purchasing a solution for our campus initiative, our campus-wide environment, then testing for accessibility and working with the vendor around accessibility is built in to that process.
And as everybody knows, there’s always the areas of the piece of technology that aren’t accessible, so looking at that technology and saying, OK, if we have a student with disability in this course, and the instructor is using XYZ piece of that technology, what are we going to do to address that? How is that going to work? And having that plan in place ahead of time, that’s one of the roles that I play on campus.
And then our campus-wide technology solutions and support– I’m not the only person that knows about the accessibility of a product, or how to incorporate the accessibility of a product. We have a great team of cohorts, both in the UA Online environment, in Office of Digital Learning. But also, we have individuals on campus with our classroom technology services, our Academic Technology Services, that are very much aware of accessibility. And they are able to answer questions as well.
And we’re always piloting new technologies. And I think one of the key things in making sure that we’re aware of what’s coming down the road in terms of those innovative technologies happening on campus is that DRC, I’m involved in those pilot processes. So we’re watching those pilot classes to see what are the interactions, what’s going on, how is this technology being used. If you have 30 faculty, and they’re all using it the same way, then the chances are that when we incorporate the other 500 faculty on campus, they’re probably going to use it in that same way as well. I know that, for a fact, D2L has a lot of components. And there’s maybe five areas that are predominantly used by all faculty. So addressing those first and making sure that those pieces are accessible in that part of the role on campus.
And then in terms of UDL, looking at the pedagogy, looking at the assessment, talking about the accessibility, so really incorporating that discussion, and taking our accommodation-based discussion and broadening it to include universal design for learning, so that as an instructor is working to accommodate a student with us that we’re then moving forward to make sure his course is universally designed for the future.
And part of my role specifically in our office is I coordinate the Quality Matters program. I coordinate our quality assurance program and also have input into those design sets and some of those pieces around the LMS.
So when it comes to Quality Matters, this is a widely accepted framework for the evaluation of online and hybrid courses. They do have Standard 8 that talks about usability and accessibility, although if you’ve worked with Quality Matters, you know that meeting Standard 8 doesn’t mean that you have met accessibility requirements by any means. But it’s at least a start, and at least a place where we know that we’re evaluating.
So we try to design with the rubric in mind. All of our instructional designers are trained on the rubric. And we do quite a bit of very frequent workshops about Quality Matters so that our instructors can have an idea of what it is, so it doesn’t seem so foreign to them when they go through the review process, or go through our course design inventory or our quality assurance process that has a lot of those same pieces from the QM rubric embedded into them.
The overall quality assurance process is always geared towards continuous improvement. We know that one of the quickest ways to stop our forward progress is to overwhelm instructors and instructional designers with these very long lists of all the things that need to be done. We really try to focus them on, yes, we want to give comprehensive feedback, but we also then want to say, let’s narrow these down to a few things that you think will make the most difference for your students in your courses, and let’s work on those. And then we can re-evaluate the course design and make changes for the next time the course is running. So building a culture that is around continuous improvement has been a big part of what we’ve done since the beginning of UA Online.
When we first started, we had a few different learning management systems that were being used on campus. We were able– leadership was able to say, you know what? We are going to go to one LMS that can be better centrally supported and makes it easier to have the vendor discussions, makes it– just simplifies it for everybody. So we do use those design sets within D2L. And then also, we’re able to integrate tools within the LMS.
DAWN HUNZIKER: Right. There’s a question about captioning for student contributions in VoiceThread. Yes, if a class is using VoiceThread, and there’s a deaf or hard-of-hearing individual in the course, we are captioning both the instructor prompts and any student responses that are part of that. And we turn those around within two to eight hours. And again, that’s with a captioning vendor.
So I think at this point we’re kind of on our last slide. And we want to open it up for questions. But we also want to show you the design template that we have as part of our campus.
So what you’re seeing here is our Wildcat design, say, if you will. And you can see that it’s a pretty standard D2L interface. And we are moving to the cloud version of D2L in May. So our look will stay pretty much the same at this point, but our initial interface into the campus will be a little bit different. It’ll be the newer online version.
JANET SMITH: And is everybody able to see this OK? Just want to make sure.
DAWN HUNZIKER: This should be [INAUDIBLE].
JANET SMITH: Oh, OK, good. So if we jump into the content here, one of the main things that we did was to create several modules that are standard that we really encourage instructors to just use as is in the Start Here module. And if we– let me show you one of these.
So you can see that we have a simple graphics. We’re using fonts that are going to be easy to read and sizes that are easy to read. We make sure that we’re using headings, make sure that we’re using descriptive links, I mean, just all those basic things that are really sort of web accessibility guidelines.
DAWN HUNZIKER: And usability.
JANET SMITH: Yeah, and usability guidelines, and incorporating that into our LMS.
I mean, definitely from the instructional design standpoint, one of the things that we wanted to make sure is that we want the user experience of D2L to mimic sort of what people’s experience is when they use the web, and what is expected, to lower that burden on students in terms of navigation and how things work.
We also then built into our university policies some– our wonderful visual designer and web developer created these accordion menus so that links will always be updated in one place. And then that will cascade down to all the other courses that are using this design set that they have built their course on top of it.
And then we provide a sample module for instructors to use. And then they can just copy this. We give a couple different versions of the module overview. So we have this one that has this sidebar piece where objectives can go. We want to have it really clear what they’re doing each week so that they have a nice overview.
And then we have another version that I believe does not use the sidebar piece and is, yeah, even more linear, and less bulletpoints because some instructors really feel rather strongly that for their discipline, narrative formats are better to talk about their content. So we want to value that. And that was definitely some feedback that we got around the design sets.
This is the fourth design set that we have created in three years. So there’s been a lot of trial and error and just being willing to sort of jettison that which was not working in favor of things that were going to work better for students, instructors, and instructional designers.
And then for the module content, we have this piece of the template that they can add in to. So it does allow for choice and flexibility. And we stay away from calling it a template because that’s not really what we want it to be. We want it to be this design set that is meant to be flexible, meant to already have built in some accessibility and some UDL pieces, and then provides a nice foundation to build on with those.
DAWN HUNZIKER: So in terms of– there is a question about accreditation for the online courses. So what we’re doing is, as we are building– so for example, the design set, we’re working closely with the web developer so that you can tell that there’s lots of good color contrast. We’re testing the accordion menu to make sure that works with for screen readers or keyboard accessibility. So we’re working as they’re developing that course template.
Now, if an instructor obviously goes in and changes some of those elements– and you know, they do. They go in and change things, or implement other things. And again, that’s handled more through the accommodations side at this point because at a Research I institution, and dictating to an instructor how a course is going to look 100% just isn’t going to happen. So that is that in that respect.
JANET SMITH: And so just to answer a couple of other questions that came up, one from Jeff about there being a re-occurring budget to support the third party captioning vendors. The answer is yes, that we are moving in that direction. We do not have that– as of today, that is not implemented. But the plan is in the works. And I do believe that we have the approval to go ahead and start captioning. So we’re now cataloging things.
And that was a huge win and one that we certainly recognize is not always feasible for every institution. And it wasn’t for us when we started, by any means. And so that has been– we know that that’s a challenge across all institutions. And I think everybody is still working on how are they going to solve that where they are.
And in terms of the accommodations piece, so for those courses that aren’t captioned, we have an institutional account that is used to pay for those accommodation type expenses. So captioning is one of them. So it’s really considered kind of a bottomless budget, open item, budget item so that we can take care of the accommodation and make sure that students have the access that they need because I can tell you that turning around captions in anywhere two to eight hours is not cheap. So that has been a little eye-opening for us, but it’s definitely something that we’re committed to and that we are still continuing to support.
And Sasha, you mentioned the hefty price tag that goes along with using QM as an evaluation tool. And yes, if you ask them to come in and evaluate your courses, I mean, it’s like $1,000 a course. So we are not doing that.
We use the rubric in a couple of different ways. We have a subscription that spans our state, so the other state colleges, as well as many of the community colleges that would like to be involved in it. So what we’re able to do with that to get courses actually reviewed for– to get the seal that Quality Matters issues is that we can use the folks within the consortium that have taken the peer reviewer course and are certified peer reviewers. And we do that. We do not compensate our reviewers. Some state do compensate their reviewers for those. And even if you compensate them, you’re still looking at half the price tag as Quality Matters. So at a certain subscription level, you can do your own in-state reviews that still count for certification.
The other thing that we’re actually doing by far and away most with is, I just created an internal review process in which we are using all of Standard 1 and the Essential Standard, plus a couple of the extra standards from Standard 8 to do reviews. And what I do is I facilitate the ATP QMR workshop. The folks that go do that are then given the opportunity to participate in internal peer review of courses, which they can opt in or opt out of doing at any time. And I manage that whole process. So even though they’re not all getting that seal of excellence that is given by Quality Matters, it’s a fantastic way to use the rubric.
And if anybody is really interested in how those quality assurance pieces work, please feel free to send me an email, or connect with me in some other way, and I’m happy to share more about that.
Are we requiring– Rosie Anne said, are we requiring instructors to use the design set? And I would say no. So we don’t really– there aren’t a whole lot of things that would fall under the required column. However, because we start with building relationships with our faculty, and they can see that, if I use this design set, this is a great help to me– and they like that it looks nice. They went their course to look nice.
And then we sort of rely on that word of mouth. That’s a lot of how we’ve gotten buy-in is just building a reputation as an office whose instructional designers are collaborative, supportive, helpful, that they listen, and they tailor the needs of the instructors with the best practices for online course design.
DAWN HUNZIKER: And I think that when Janet mentions that, that’s one of the things that we’re seeing that’s happening from this process that we’re going through with UA Online is that we’re seeing people on campus are going, wow, I really like that. How can I apply that to my online course? Can I get access to that design set? What support can I have? And so I think that that’s really a win for this collaboration is that we’re broadening the scope of this. And it’s branching out across campus.
And the other neat thing with UA Online is that there are technologies that are on campus now, such as VoiceThread– if UA Online wouldn’t have invested in VoiceThread, we wouldn’t have it as a campus-wide technology. So that’s an example of, again, we don’t just consider UA Online a separate campus from the University of Arizona. It is part of the University of Arizona. When we negotiate contracts, we negotiate for the entire campus, not just for one unit of the campus because we know that if one area of campus is going to be using this great technology, others are going to want to use it too. And we don’t want to limit the innovation of instructors because they’re not in the UA Online environment.
And quality is our thing. So it’s really– I think it’s been one of the driving features for our UA Online program, if you will, in that we restarted UA Online with quality, and Quality Matters as the foundation. And we’ve built up from there.
So that is all that we had to present. We still have some time left. So we’re happy to answer more questions if you have them.
ELISA EDELBERG: Great. Thank you. Oh, it looks like we have another question that just came in. Someone’s asking, how do you handle synchronous meetings?
DAWN HUNZIKER: So with synchronous meetings, in terms of captioning– I’m assuming that’s probably what you’re asking– we do coordinate with the factory member and the students. First of all, we ask the faculty member– are you requiring students to attend a synchronous meeting? If yes, then obviously, we’re going to expect the student who’s deaf or hard of hearing to be attending as well. And we provide a CART capturer or a CART writer, just like we would for an in-person course. So that person then has access to the course. They are capturing the content. And that access is provided.
If the synchronous meeting is optional, then one of the things that we do is we talk to the student. And we say, are you planning on attending? If so, great, we’ll have someone there that’s captioning the meeting as it happens. If not, then we’re going to caption it after the fact and talk to the student about that and see what their preference is.
In terms of student workers, I think you’re talking about the student workers for the Disability Resource Center. And Janet also has a few student workers as well. But for the Disability Resource Center, our student workers are converting documents. They’re downloading the video files to then process and caption, get captions, that content captioned. In very rare cases, a few cases, if the video is very short, they may provide a transcript of that video, which then is provided to the captioning vendor for syncing that video, that transcripted video, for our caption file.
And then they are also assisting in our testing accommodations process, checking students in and out, delivering exams, copying exams, all that kind of office work stuff that still happen.
ELISA EDELBERG: Great. So unless anyone else has any questions, it seems that we have gotten to most of them throughout. So thank you so much. Thank you, everyone, for joining. And thank you, Dawn and Janet, for a great presentation.