Creating online classrooms where all students can learn, be engaged, and believe that they matter means anticipating the diversity of students that may enroll in your course and planning accordingly. There are many considerations to take in to account when increasing the accessibility and usability of your course for all students. Below you’ll find just a few to get you started.
Develop content first, then design
When designing for accessibility and usability:
- Determine what you will include in your course.
- Use outlines to plan the flow of the course content.
- Familiarize yourself with the features and functionality of the LMS you’ll be using.
- Develop a navigation scheme.
Refrain from posting any content until the design process is complete.
Provide simple, consistent navigation
Be consistent with the navigational scheme you use throughout your course. Additionally:
- When possible, avoid requiring students to drill down multiple times to reach your content. Find the right balance for your content and your students between clicking and scrolling.
- Use brief but comprehensive text for links.
Give careful consideration to the LMS tools used
While today’s learning management systems are feature rich and user friendly, some features and functionality may present barriers for some students. Take the time to build an awareness of the potential barriers so that you can make informed decisions about when to use a feature, when to avoid it, and when to provide alternatives.
Use color and fonts carefully
Color can provide visual difficulty for some users. As a best practice, do not use color alone to convey meaning. When opting to use color in your online course:
- Be sure the colors provide good contrast. Black text on a white or light background is the most readable.
- Remember, patterns and images placed behind text makes it more difficult to read.
- Sans serif fonts are easier to read.
- Make sure font sizes are large enough to read comfortably and keep text provided in graphic format to a minimum as magnification can cause pixilation, making it difficult to read.
I hope you are thinking about online course design from an inclusive perspective. Although shifting from the face-to-face classroom can be a daunting task at first, it can allow for a collaborative environment for your students. For more information, check out our Getting Started with Online Course Design course. This course provides you with a foundation of knowledge to build upon as you continue your journey of designing online courses.