For years now, many academic institutions and businesses have incorporated or streamlined education through digital tools and solutions. But the trend to learn digitally with various forms of eLearning content is growing, and has increased dramatically with the onset of the pandemic.
A source provides the following insightful facts and statistics on the benefits of eLearning tools:
- Up to 60% of academic students retain more with eLearning, with a 72% success rate.
- Nearly 75% of students want to continue take eLearning classes since the pandemic
- 42% of companies confirm eLearning tools lead to an increase in revenue
- Nearly 80% of organizations provide eLearning content, increasing productivity by 20%.
While additional research also indicates that:
- Every penny invested in eLearning content for a business increases revenue by $30.
- The eLearning content market is forecasted to reach $374 billion by 2026
eLearning software and tools provide flexibility to students and employees, as most often eLearning content is accessible online. With the rising social responsibility, awareness, and regulations related to web content, creating engaging and interactive eLearning content also means integrating accessibility at its finest. eLearning content helps address diverse learner needs, while also enhancing education for people with learning disabilities and anyone with visual, hearing, cognitive or motor impairments.
Let’s take a deeper look at the various types of eLearning content and tools that are most commonly used, while examining best practices to adopt when creating course or training materials to ensure materials are accessible and inclusive of learners with disabilities. It’s important to note that while accessible content benefits and targets learners with disabilities, the benefits extend to anyone studying or training in both academic and corporate environments.
Video eLearning Tools & Content
Research conducted in 2022 by The State of Video in Education showed that nearly 95% of educators recognized that video eLearning content betters student performance. Video content can come in various forms, from standalone videos, to tutorials, webinars, training videos, embedded, or interactive videos. Identifying how video eLearning content addresses diverse learner needs can help academic institutions and companies identify which types of video eLearning content are ideal for their stakeholder. And examining how to make video content accessible ensures optimal retention and engagement of learners with disabilities.
Instructional & How-To Videos: Guide Your Viewers
If it isn’t already obvious, sometimes writing out instructions for hands-on processes can often be complex for individuals to process and implement. Instructional and how-to videos allow students and employees to learn everything from building models in architecture courses, to conducting science experiments, along with everything from installing software or writing code.
Viewers can follow along with a visual representation of the process to help guide them one step at a time. Some organizations will ensure only their students and employees gain access to specific instructional and how-to videos by adopting an LMS (Learning Management System), requiring credentials to log in. Most times instructional and how-to videos are demonstrational, and may ask viewers to actually try specific steps in processes along the way.
Accessibility Best Practices for Instructional & How-To Videos:
Instructional and how-to video content can be a great resource for visual learners, but it’s important to provide an inclusive experience to individuals with visual or hearing impairments. Transcripts and captioning of any speech is ideal, particularly for people with hearing impairments, along with overlaid text of step by step instructions, captioned key messages in bullet form, and call-out boxes that indicate speech and guide you through steps.
Webinars: Live Engagement eLearning Content
Over the last decade, webinars have taken a leading role in educating participants about the value of an offer, or investigating a topic in real time. Most webinars have at least one host and often feature an SME (Subject Matter Expert). Guest hosts usually provide additional expertise and insight on products, topics, industries, and often have a strong following in their field and on social media. Guest speakers can create traction and improve engagement. Co-hosting can also provide a dynamic element to a webinar that’s more of a dialogue.
One of the best and most engaging factors of webinars is that they’re live, so participants can ask questions in real time via chat, raising hands in platforms like Zoom, or in a live questions and answers session to follow the presentation. Webinars also integrate both a human touch of hosts, while often using tables, graphs, and various visual aids or embedded video content to help reinforce and teach concepts.
Some of the most commonly used platforms for webinars include WebEx, GoToWebinar, Zoom, Livestorm and more.
Accessibility Best Practices for Webinars
Make sure you take account of any special learner needs before the event while also providing an accessibility disclaimer. Do your best to create an inclusive webinar with everything from captions and audio transcripts, to enabling or disabling chat to ensure braille displays or keyboard navigation and shortcuts function seamlessly. When discussing visuals, be vivid, clear, and concise so that anyone with visual impairments can gain a strong understanding of the added value that images and video content provide.
Don’t limit your audience communication, and allow individuals to dial in and connect online. Try to record your webinars to ensure anyone with various types of learning disabilities or those who require review can come back to the various insights you offer, and if possible caption recordings.
Interactive Video: Teaching, Testing, & Reinforcing Insight
Interactive video content is one of the best ways to evaluate if what you’re presenting or streaming to your audience is effective along the way, as it often includes little tests, trials, or quizzes to reinforce concepts and demonstrated steps or insights. There are various resources you can integrate into interactive videos, like surveys, polls, or multiple choice questions.
Accessibility Best Practices for Interactive Videos
When creating exciting experiences for those engaging with your interactive videos, always consider that diverse learner needs are important. If you’re integrating a quiz, poll, or exercise, make sure the instructions are clear so that speech readers can scan and dictate what’s required of participants, and allows frictionless interactivity for individuals using keyboard navigation or shortcuts. For those with visual impairments or learning disabilities like dyslexia, make sure the font type, size, colors and contrast of any polls or engagement tools are adjustable.
eBooks & Audio Books: Flexibility, Mobility, & Rich Multimedia Content
eBooks have become a frequent and popular resource for learning everything from how to operate machinery or software, and get through processes step by step, while also providing visually rich engagement. eBooks are often created as a user-friendly format of guides, manuals or checklists, while integrating everything from diagrams, infographics, statistics, and often including links to sources and other video content.
Transforming a more dull and banal PDF or document into an engaging education resource like an eBook can be a simple and quick way to teach specific ideas, procedures, or zone in on a particular topic. Creating ready-made audio content with a human voice that narrates the content while describing visuals can create a more organic experience for those with visual impairments.
Since speech readers often operate with Artificial Intelligence, and don’t always capture the nuances and emphasis on topics a person can offer, audio books offer the human touch of narration, while often accessible on various devices – from smartphones to laptops.
Accessibility Best Practices for eBooks
If your eBooks are web-based or downloadable, make sure that the language is straightforward and simple to understand, particularly for those using speech readers or braille display, but also to ensure it’s easy to process for anyone with cognitive disabilities. When including any visuals, creating clear and concise alt text is absolutely paramount for individuals with visual impairments so that screen readers can process the content and transform text to speech accurately.
Gamification: eLearning Content Can Be Playful
If there was ever a way to drive and motivate learning with innovation, gamified eLearning tools are it. eLearning games are often rich in graphics, interactivity, all incentivizing the process of content and information intake. Gamification of educational online resources often involves learning levels, and similar to interactive videos, trivia, polls, surveys, and quizzes can become an integral part of the studying experience. Language learning apps, driver’s ed and theory, meditation apps, and children’s educational applications are all great examples of gamified eLearning content.
Graphic designers and developers often incorporate leaderboards, badges, earning points, winning prizes, and rewards to incentivize and engage learners. Digital gamified content frequently employs animation, simulating experiences. While Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are forms of eLearning content in themselves, gamified eLearning software can also integrate VR and AR experiences, create a surreal sensation for people learning to drive, for example, or children learning about the wild in environments where they seemingly interact with everything from jungle animals, to weather, surround sound and more.
Accessibility Best Practices for Gamified eLearning Content
Gamified eContent can certainly add an entertaining edge, but it’s important to consider that certain individuals with cognitive disabilities, neurological disorders, and learning disabilities are sensitive to everything from sounds, to colors, to physical touch and sensation. Using the right color contrast and combinations will allow someone to process data and numbers more easily, while some colors, flashing lights, and animation can even trigger epileptic seizures. Think of your target audience, and see if your gamified eLearning tool allows you to adapt the content to certain sensitive conditions, so every learner enjoys the fun equally.
Mobile Learning: Meeting Learner Needs On-the-Go
Research shows that about 80% of the global population uses smartphones, and 91% of people with disabilities use either a smartphone or tablet. Individuals who are on the go and travel frequently benefit from mobile eLearning and multimedia content, particularly applications that allow hands-free and voice to text communication. Statistics show that smartphone learners complete course materials 45% quicker than those using desktop computers. The mere accessibility and flexibility of being to learn while in motion optimizes and maximizes use of time.
eLearning tools like Google Classroom and Ted-Ed are perfect examples of platforms that empower individuals while getting about busy schedules. As mobile learning doesn’t limit you to a particular environment, completion rates of training programs are both faster, engage learners more by over 70%, and compel them to finish classes.
Accessibility Best Practices for Mobile Learning
Keeping the design of mobile applications and eLearning tools simple to navigate is critical to ensure it’s accessible. Try to keep the content accessible within one screen, minimize the need to click, and create a program that’s easy to scroll through. Ideally, mobile eLearning software will engage all individuals with legible fonts, intuitive navigation, and simple user experience. Ensuring that audio and video are well-balanced to learner needs is key.
Presentations & Multimedia Content
Presentations are often the starting point and base for some of the eLearning tools discussed above, like webinars, and some eBooks are born out of slide presentations. Presentations and slideshows can incorporate rich visual aids, animation, sound, and include multimedia links, while also embedding video. The key with presentations is to keep them visually appealing and engaging without overloading the slide with too much text or heavy design.
Accessibility Best Practices for Presentations & Multimedia Content
Keep in mind that in PowerPoint slides always have a section for notes, so despite a slide presenting minimal content and critical takeaways, users can alway reference additional insights in notes and comments. Anyone with learners with disabilities like dysgraphia, dyslexia, ADHD, or various forms of cognitive disabilities may experience and process content differently.
The advantage of presentations is that they allow organizations and educational institutions to include a rich mix of learning resources, visual, text, animation, video, and more. But balancing the content to engage users is paramount to a presentation’s success. Sometimes less is more in one space. Distribute the use of multimedia content considering that learner needs and diverse background vary, with some learning more effectively with visuals, others reading, some by listening, and others with video.
Group or Social eLearning Tools & Virtual Classrooms
The beauty of innovative learning and technology is that collaborative learning isn’t exclusively face to face, as online communication channels enable social and group learning remotely. Organizations can schedule workshops on Zoom and create group learning opportunities in breakout rooms, with team building exercises that require groups to think outside the box, communicate, and even create visual and content resources on the fly.
Similarly, academics can connect and study together in virtual classrooms, with zero physical limitations. There are generally two core types of virtual learning classrooms, synchronous versus asynchronous, the first requires that all students or participants work and learn together at the same time, while asynchronous learning is more of a move at your own pace concept. You can join the group learning process whenever you want.
Accessibility Best Practices for Group eLearning Tools & Virtual Classrooms
Every individual brings their own gifts, talents, and challenges to a group learning environment. Make sure that when you team people up, there’s a fair level of social and cognitive balance between members, and allow visual learners to help others who struggle with visual learning, and the opposite for more hands-on learners. Provide a diverse range of learning materials that can engage all learner needs, from writing, to reading, video content, quizzes, and incorporate gamified eLearning exercises. This is your chance to create a 360-degree curriculum that empowers your students or employees with team-building opportunities and a chance to learn from each other.
UserWay & Accessible Content for eLearning
If you’re using an online eLearning platform or creating video, audio, or visually rich and animated content to engage learners, integrating an AI-powered accessibility widget can help you identify any multimedia content that requires fixes and remediations. While we mention the critical nature of font and size of text, color contrast, alt text, and simplified language for screen reader and other assistive technologies, not all academic institutions have the manpower to scan hundreds and even thousands of educational resources.
UserWay’s range of accessibility solutions can help you pinpoint how to improve your eLearning tools, from online applications and public-facing website content, presentations, and eBooks, to PDFs, documents and more. Find out how to create inclusive online learning environments with the right resources, and expand reach and engagement.
Answers to Common FAQs
Why is eLearning content becoming increasingly common and popular across organizations and academic institutions?
With the onset of pandemic remote work, communication, and learning has become one of the most common ways to ensure academic and professional development. eLearning can blend a rich and diverse set of multimedia content that can meet learner needs often more effectively.
By using everything from video content, to audio and eBooks, interactive and engaging testing methods, group remote and virtual classrooms, there are limitless possibilities to how learners with disabilities and anyone can consume information. eLearning software also provides flexibility, as it can often be accessed on various devices with internet access.
What are some best practices to provide accessible content with eLearning tools?
Creating accessible content for eLearning tools means inclusion for all learner needs. Individuals with visual disabilities and impairments should ideally be able to access content via screen readers and braille displays, so keeping content simple and straightforward is key. Creating alt text for images, transcriptions and captions for videos, and easy navigation for keyboard shortcuts will help ensure eLearning content is engaging and inclusive.
What are the advantages of eLearning content for academic institutions and companies alike?
eLearning reduces the cost of educational resources by providing digitally engaging learning experiences to individuals. Statistics indicate that employers can empower their teams to learn faster and increase productivity with eLearning tools, while academic institutions also create opportunities for individuals with physical, learning, and cognitive disabilities to learn with inclusive resources.