Inclusive Instructional Design website
Design Justification and Reflection
Accessible Instructional Design Website
For my final project, I wanted to create a website I could use for consulting work. The goal of setting up my own site is to be a one-stop collection of main ideas and resources for myself, as well as demonstrate I am a subject matter expert regarding accessibility, with a heavy dose of instructional design principles included.
Purpose of Website
I am at an interesting time of my career where I want to take my previous decade of knowledge and apply it with newer knowledge gleaned from this EDTECH program. I want to help professors and instructors create accessible materials from the beginning, and reduce the need to retroactively convert inaccessible elements, like documents and videos. I also desire to work with schools to consider accessibility on a larger scale, and to adjust systematic processes to prevent digital discrimination. The website has a couple of purposes:
- Communicate I am a subject matter expert and can help with accessible instructional design.
- Garner attention regarding accessible instructional design from higher education administrators, instructors, and disability service professionals.
- Teach basic elements of accessible instructional design in a clear format that is engaging and interesting.
Shank (2011) emphasizes that contrast makes a page more interesting. Contrast can exist by playing with size, color, location on page, spacing, and shapes. I mainly use contrast on my website through color, font size, and spacing. For example, I utilized the default headings style but changed it to be bold so the words would stand out more. Also, this was an accessibility choice as bolded text make the main headings, or topics, easier to read for those with low vision or reading disabilities.
Alignment is often referred to as chunking, or similar grouped information. This ultimately reduces cognitive load and is often a recommendation when creating content following the principles of universal design for learning (Rose). Using a template helped with alignment, as it was impossible to create certain margins or indentations due to the limitations of the CSS.
Repetition of information is important to increasing retention (Lohr, 2008, p. 1999). The main visual repetition is found by using the template, meaning the content layout is roughly similar. This prevents users from focusing extraneous energy in trying to understand the layout of the page, instead of the content of the page. While STEM content is spread across 3 pages currently, there could be more work to improve the repetition of the important concepts across all pages, without becoming pedantic.
This was the most frustrating area to adjust as I rely on a WordPress template. The template offers little opportunity for modification. Lohr (2008) suggests that too much proximity between words or figures could make the pager more dense and harder to read, and not enough proximity can prevent users from picking up on relationships between words or figures. What is interesting is that visual proximity does not matter to people who are blind. However, textual proximity is important. If I am discussing accessible STEM content on a webpage, then the definitions of keywords like MathType, MathML and LaTeX should be “close” together on the page, meaning that they should not be scattered thoughtlessly.
The main trouble I encountered with this website was setting it up to be a workable site with a matching email domain. This was my first foray into diving deeply into domains, and matching email sites. I actually set up one site under the happya11ygeek domain, but then became confused regarding passwords for the Google Suite Admin account, and the WordPress account. Thus, I stopped myself from being able to log into either. Unfortunately, the help desk could not in fact help me. The site and Google Suite were paid services that I ended up canceling.
But perhaps that was a blessing in disguise. Despite an hour plus of thoughtful consideration regarding the domain choice, only those in the accessibility field will understand that “a11y” is a shorthand for accessibility. But yet my target audience is one who would likely NOT know such industry givens. While this new domain is not as fun, “accessible instructional design” is more clear to multiple audiences, which is the desired purpose.
Unfortunately, I spent so much time troubleshooting the set up, that I did not develop my site as deeply as I would like. However, I think the content share is relevant, is unique, and utilized several of the projects created in this course. The trick will be to follow principles of Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (Mayer) so no to overwhelm the viewer with too much stimulus.
Overall, I love that I can use my final 506 project to start a personal goal. To summarize graphic design, everything can be considered visual from charts to figures to tables to infographics to photos to text. Anything visual needs to have purpose. When appropriate, that visual content can be more engaging when certain principles like CARP and Gestalt Psychology are followed (Lohr, 2008). Creating clear, appealing graphical elements takes a lot of planning and adjusting but is well worth the effort as it can communicate ideas much quicker than blocks of text.