About the conference "towards accessible MOOCs"

29 September 2014, by Sylvie Duchateau

Seminar organised by the French Institute on Research and Computers, INRIA on 9 September at the National Center on Arts and Professions, CNAM

Armony and myself spoke on behalf of Access42 at the seminar vers des Moocs accessibles (towards accessible Moocs) that was organised by INRIA on last 9 September. This workshop gave us the opportunity to unveil our project to the public and to discover the MOOC, which is still not well-known in France. A MOOC is a Massive Online Open Course. It is a new form of teaching based on modules, where the student is the actor of his training, in a virtual context, where all resources can be shared freely.

I was not able to stay untill the end of the event, but here is a summary of the talks that I did attend.

Dominique Archambault first spoke about the necessity to make teaching documents accessible, so that they can be read by anyone when they are viewed by the MOOCS participants.

Together with Nicolas Lefebvre from Multimedia France Production, Armony presented the web accessibility standards and tried to answer the question : are accessibility standards sufficient to deal with the specificity of the MOOCs ? Nicolas, on his side, showed that in the field of captioning and audiodescription, there were also strict standards. Together, they illustrated the specific needs in the MOOCs to get accessible videos. This gave us the opportunity to show our accessible video player, which allows customization of the captions’ display according to the users’ needs. All player buttons can be used via the keyboard and mouse and, as they are developed in HTML5, they can be activated with different technologies and browsers.

Then, Sébastien Delorme shared his experience with the creation of E-Learning documents, about the difficulties he had and the results he obtained through the used methodologies.

I took the users’ side and explained their expectations when they cannot use the keyboard, the mouse, when they cannot see the screen. I wanted to show that it was necessary to follow the standards, but that you had to think about the way you explain things to the public : it is not enough to show the screen with your finger, but describe, explain what is displayed on the screen, provide accessible videos, and ensure that the training material can be used by all. Also, do not forget that a MOOC can be created by someone surfing differently as well, and who shall be able to create her/his content in an accessible way.

This seminar is one of the first dealing with that topic, and it was an important event. On the one hand, because few workshops delt with Moocs in France. On the other hand, because it helped to publically launch Access42, through the joint participation of Armony and myself for the same goal : improving accessibility.

Let’s hope that the ideas that were shared during the discussions will contribute to the creation of accessible MOOCs for all. The reign of the MOOC has just begun !

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