Learning Web Accessibility on Campus

Back at the beginning of March, the web accessibility working group let you know about our plan to offer web accessibility training sessions for content creators on College websites.  Since then, we’ve held three packed sessions and welcomed individuals from all across campus.  So far this year, we’ve trained more than 30 people in web accessibility – about 20 percent of content creators who work on Hampshire sites.

We have seen faculty, staff and students, belonging to more than a dozen departments (communications, admissions, CASA, IT, OPRA, the library, you name it!).  We have also heard and addressed great questions each time, about the ways that accessibility concepts relate to site design, multimedia content like videos, and use of social media.

We’re proud of all the folks on campus who’ve stepped up to be part of this push to make Hampshire’s online presence more accessible to all.  In such a short time, we’ve made substantial progress towards creating a community of knowledgable, aware individuals working together towards this important goal.

If you haven’t come yet, register to attend a training session.

Want to get a better idea of what’s involved? Preview the training session agenda (Hampshire login required), or read through our web accessibility standards and resources.

Did you already attend a session?  Want to share your accessibility story or ask a question? Let us know by emailing itaccessibility@hampshire.edu.

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Website Editors: New Resources Designed for You

The Accessible Information Technology Working Group has updated our resources for writing on the web. Available from the Accessible Information Technology web page, they can help you ensure that the web pages you create are equally available to visitors with a range of abilities and experiences. If you make changes to pages on www.hampshire.edu, or create posts for any College site, these resources are recommended reading.

Questions? Want to learn more? Get in touch with us at itaccessibility@hampshire.edu.

Resource #1: Web Accessibility Tips for Content Authors

Whether you update parts of the main website, add information to a departmental blog, or create Intranet announcements, that makes you a content author. Basic web accessibility doesn’t need to be difficult, and you can brush up your knowledge with these straightforward tips. The information is also downloadable as a PDF checklist for easy reference.

Resource #2: Creating Accessible PDFs Instructions

PDFs can be a polished way to deliver downloadable information, and they’re frequently found attached to web pages. However, it takes a little more time and care to make them accessible to everyone. You can use these Creating Accessible PDF instructions to guide yourself through that process. Whether you’re starting with a Word Document or scanning an article for students, these instructions have got you covered.

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Bringing Hampshire Solutions to the HighEdWeb Conference

In October, two members of the Accessible Information Technology Working Group presented at HighEdWeb 2017. Sarah Ryder (Hampshire IT) and Rob Eveleigh (Five Colleges, Inc), in collaboration with Alison West (Mount Holyoke Communications), presented about their work on the open source web tool that we created and used to monitor accessibility on some web sites here at Hampshire. They discussed their successes, challenges, and lessons learned with the broader community of web development for higher education, which sparked a lot of conversation about web accessibility.

Want to know more? View their presentation information on GitHub.

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Greetings and a Moodle Update from Instructional Tech!

Who am I?

Hi, Hampshire College, I’m your Instructional Technologist! I’m here to support the use of technology for teaching and learning. That can mean anything from answering your questions about Moodle, giving trainings on programs like WordPress or Photoshop, or helping you find the right tech solution to support your individual course.

I’m here because I’m invested in solving problems of all sorts, and also because I’m excited and inspired by the process of learning new technology. If you’re already thinking of questions and ideas, great! I’m happy to hear from you.

What is this column?

I’m going to be coming to you with a twice-monthly post about useful and interesting technology. The posts will be split between Hampshire-specific topics (like the updates on Moodle you’ll find below) and a sampling of the other tools that may be helpful and inspiring as you go about your academic and personal lives. Posts will be nontechnical and fairly short, and I hope they’ll be something that you’ll be interested in following along with.

And without further ado, we will now move on to this week’s topic:

What’s New in Moodle for Fall 2017

As of mid-July, we upgraded our Moodle system to version 3.2. This means instructors will see a handful of minor improvements, though the look and feel of the site are remaining much the same. For those who maintain Moodle courses, read below about useful new features, improvements to the assignment grading interface, and some minor adjustments to menus and links. Even for those who do not create in Moodle, future posts geared toward your interests are on their way, so stay tuned in two weeks!

As always, if you have Moodle questions, get in touch with us!

New Features

  • Recycle Bin: If you’ve deleted an element on your course page that you really want to keep, try refreshing the page and looking at the bottom of your Administration block. You should see a new link to your Recycle Bin. Items will hang around in your Recycle Bin for two weeks after their initial deletion, so you have enough time to grab anything that has been accidentally axed and return it to your course.
  • Download Instructor Files: In just one step, you can download all the files you’ve added to your Moodle course and save them in a folder, either to your computer or to Google Drive. This a great way to preserve the components of your Moodle course for reference or later use.  Want to know more?  Here are our instructions on Downloading Instructor Files.
  • Pin Forum Discussions: Ever have a really critical forum post that you want students to be reminded of whenever they go to participate in the discussion?  You can now “pin” it to the top of the forum page.  Look for the “Pinned” checkbox when you are adding a new discussion topic.

Improvements: Assignment Grading

If you use the Assignment grading feature, you will see that the grading interface has gotten an overhaul in this version of Moodle. The options available to you are the same as they were in the old interface, but if you need a tour of the new look, see our updated assignment grading instructions.

Different titles, different locations

A last few minor changes:

  • Each course used to come with a News Forum by default.  This forum is now called Announcements.
  • The link to Grades can be now be found in your Navigation block. (This link used to be under Administration).
  • If you want to view your page as a student does, the option to “Change Role To…” is now part of the User Menu, under your name and profile picture at the top right of the page.  (This link used to be under Administration).
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