E-learning modes of content delivery can be broken down into
three areas: Web 2.0, Web 1.0, and printed materials. Web 2.0 can be
thought of as the new, more interactive types of web site and
online activities: Plurk/Twitter, blogs and wikis, Second Life, the video
sites like Seesmic, YouTube, and Flickr. It can also include things
like podcasts, an area the Open University has recently joined in
partnership with iTunes U. These allow people to create content, often
collaboratively, and then easily share it with others who may then
modify it or comment on it.
Web 1.0 is typified by traditional, static web pages,
converted PowerPoint presentations, and PDF documents. The possibilities for
interactivity are very minimal. This is a very traditional and common way
of presenting material online and probably not about to be supplanted
completely by Web 2.0 applications in the near future.
And, as much as we’d like to claim we’re a paperless university, the
truth of the matter is we still have books and other printed materials.
Web-based content can be made accessible sometimes with screen readers. Even
with book readers, though, sometimes printed content is inaccessible. For example,
on TT281, our course text had commentary in inset blocks and code on the rest
of the page. Our blind student was unable to “read” the book satisfactory because
of the layout. We contacted the publisher but, because of when we were first
alerted to the problem, there was insufficient time to have something appropriate
I just read about two recent initiatives by JISC TechDis, the Publishers
Association, and the RNIB that might help in such situations. The first is
“Publisher Lookup UK” where participating publishers provide contact
addresses for having special arrangements of their materials made available.
The second initiative is a guide to obtaining textbooks in alternative forms,
providing advice on where to go, what to expect, and what questions to ask.