The Student Support Object (SSO) I developed for face to face and distance learning students focuses on offering help, advice, information and tutorials for our Personal Development Plan (PDP) software Mahara. The students that are using the object I developed are in our Post Graduate, SQCF Level 11 face to face and distance learning programme Project Management. It is envisaged that this object will be used by any level of student within the institution, particularly levels 7 – 9, as the institution has a policy in place that all PDP activity for these levels must use Mahara. Therefore I have tried to refrain from using too many technical terms within the written portion of the support object, to make it more accessible to both domestic and international learners who haven’t used the software before. (A1, A2)
When designing the object I deliberately made sure the first few pages of the object contained general information and tips as I didn’t want to overwhelm students new to using the software. The tutorials and text heavy documentation is found after the initial introduction and general information. The information and tutorials are presented in two main formats, so the students won’t have to unnecessarily download plug in’s for software or apps. The two main formats I decided to utilise are PDF’s, this is common document type and if required the Adobe reader is free and can be viewed on most computers and mobile devices – the second format was streamed videos, I only used these when required to demonstrate a particular function within Mahara. I also included examples of good practice to show students how portfolios can be created and how Mahara is being used in other institutions. (A4).
Upon reflection, to further enhance the accessibility of the SSO I will include a brief audio narration for the first page, this will go over how to navigate through the object and use the tabs to view the different materials. I will refer to the Jisc documentation on producing accessible audio to ensure it is suitability used within the SSO object and adheres to accessibility guidelines. I’ve found there can be an assumption that all students will all have high levels of digital literacy and will have mastery of computers, tablets and software etc… This is not the case, digital literacy varies greatly from student to student, “one shoe does not fit all”. This has been acknowledged and explored in case studies, for example the DIAL project implemented by the University of Arts London found that:
“The project team acknowledged from the outset that digital literacies (DLs) in art and design practice based subjects could not be a one size fits all solution. DIAL has worked hard to try and understand and be responsive to the different DL cultures found at UAL as evidenced by the project case studies. DIAL has also identified key areas where further work is needed to address UAL DL development needs.”
I think what’s key to take note of is the word “cultures”, this can obviously be a factor in someone’s exposures and experience with Digital Literacy and technology. It was vitally important to take this into consideration when developing the SSO, so there is a consistently equitable experience for each and every student. (V1)
Images and Information of Student Support Object
The above screenshot shows how the Xerte SSO looked and presented the information in a tab style format. The screenshot also has numbers, which highlight the accessibility features and navigation within the object. These accessibility and navigation features are shown in more detail below.
1. The text and background colours can be inverted to
accommodate for learners with a visual impairment, such as
2. The table of contents allows students to navigate throughout
the SSO in a non-linear fashion.
3.The forwards and backwards arrows allow the learner to
navigate in a linear fashion through the SSO.
Jisc TechDis, (2013, April) Jisc TechDis Inclusion Technology Advice, retrieved March 2, 2015 from