Presentations using slides underpin many teaching sessions in schools, colleges and in Higher Education (Wilson, 2016). By mixing images, text, tables and embedding interactive materials such as videos, slides provide a tool for both engaging learners and communicating knowledge. While there has been much discussion about how to improve the design of slides or ways of avoiding “death by PowerPoint” (Hopper and Waugh, 2014), slide presentation tools have remained in the top five learning technologies for the last five years (Hart, 2017). Slides “handouts” are also increasingly used to replace textbook to aid students with note-taking and revision. This practice can offer a more inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities or other additional needs, especially if slides are made available prior to teaching sessions (Williams et al, 2017).
The design, layout and content of slides impact whether they are inclusive and accessible, especially for learners with additional needs who may use assistive technologies. For example slides that are inherently visual learning materials may help with student engagement (Roberts, 2017), but this can also cause a barrier. A student with visual impairment, who is using a screen reader with a synthesised voice to read text out aloud, may not see the image and miss the point of the exercise while it can be more difficult for students to accurately take notes (Wilson, 2016).
The problem is compounded by most accessibility advice focuses on web content or documents, listing criteria to check every possible element. When faced with over 60 recommendations such as those provided by WCAG 2.0 (Caldwell, 2008), as well as the choice of themes, slide templates, fonts and colours, learning content creators can be overwhelmed. In a recent study as part of a Horizon 2020 project to develop an accessible, online slide platform for open educational resources, Ellias et al (2018) found that, as only six elements related to slide design required authors’ input if accessible templates were used. This session will present the concept of accessible slide content and discuss the factors that make great presentations. Participants will learn about how some simple design considerations and checks can ensure slide-based learning materials are born accessible while also getting the opportunity to try out the SlideWiki platform to collaboratively create accessible slides as open educational resources.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
This session is based on the work being undertaken as part of the SlideWiki Horizon 2020 project. During the project we have been trialling a platform for creating and sharing slides as open educational resources (OERs). The project incorporates a user-centred design process for gathering feedback from learners and slide authors. A study of the slide authors found that they required simple guidance on how to make their content accessible (Elias et al, 2018). We will use this session to discuss feedback gathered during the pan-European SlideWiki trials as well as provide the participants with the opportunity to contribute their own feedback to the developers of this open-source project.
The session is also informed by our work on OERs and MOOCs covering digital accessibility and inclusion skills (including the FutureLearn Inclusive Learning and Teaching course and our Lexdis.org.uk portal). With the workshop participants, we will be reflecting on the potential impact of such guidance in the context of a move to make universities more inclusive for disabled students and the increasing legal requirements to ensure digital materials meet accessibility standards.
Caldwell, B., Cooper, M., Reid, L.G. and Vanderheiden, G., (2008). Web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. WWW Consortium (W3C).
Elias, M., James, A., Lohmann, S., Auer, A. and Wald M., (2017). Towards an Open Authoring Tool for Accessible Slide Presentations. Lecture Notes in Computer Science: ICCHP 2018 Conference Proceedings. In press.
Hart, J. (2017). Top 100 tools for learning 2017 http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/ (accessed 26 March 2018)
Hopper, K.B. and Waugh, J.B., (2014). Powerpoint: An Overused Technology Deserving of Criticism, but Indispensable. Educational Technology, pp.29-34.
Roberts, D. (2017). The engagement agenda, multimedia learning and the use of images in higher education lecturing: or, how to end death by PowerPoint, Journal of Further and Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2017.1332356
Williams, M., Pollard, E., Langley, J., Houghton, A.M. and Zozimo, J., (2017). Models of support for students with disabilities: report to HEFCE.
Wilson, I., (2016). Positive PowerPoint – developing good practice through practitioner research͛, TEAN Journal, 8(1), pp.94-105.