Before diving into the results, some background on the research is in order.
The overall objectives of our research have been to:
- identify eLearning-related barriers and facilitators experienced by college and university students with disabilities in Canada; and
- develop best practices guidelines for stakeholders in the Canadian postsecondary education community and the postsecondary publishing industry. A key principle guiding our research has been that to fully investigate and address accessibility of eLearning in higher education, our research needs to fully represent the issues from four perspectives: that of the student(s) with a disability, faculty, the campus-based professionals who provide disability-related accommodations to students, and what we termed eLearning specialists - the individuals who play a role in supporting/implementing eLearning at the institution. Therefore, we collected closed and open-ended data from these four groups.
To get a broad perspective on the current state of eLearning and accessibility on Canadian postsecondary campuses, we started our research by interviewing 22 “key informants.” These were individuals who came recommended to us by our research partners and collaborators. Key informants included the four groups mentioned above, plus ePublishing vendor representatives. Topics we were interested in included:
- the specific forms of eLearning colleges and universities are using in their courses;
- the types of eLearning-related accommodations requested by and provided to students with various disabilities; and
- the key trends, benefits and issues.
Information coming from these interviews was used to develop French and English versions of four voluntary, confidential online surveys. We administered these to a convenience sample consisting of:
1. Canadian college and university students with disabilities who have taken at least one course in the last three years where the professor used some form of eLearning;
2. college and university professors who have taught at least one student with a disability during the last three years in a course where they used some form of eLearning;
3. staff who provide disability-related services at Canadian postsecondary institutions; and
4. individuals who support/implement eLearning at Canadian postsecondary institutions, including VPs and managers of distance education and instructional technology departments; persons who train faculty to use technology; designers and developers of eLearning on campus.
If folks are interested in us going deeper on the methodology or have broader questions about our research approach, , please ask.