It’s Quality Matters Monday! Each Monday, we highlight a Quality Matters standard and review its importance in an online course and how we evaluate this standard.
Today, we are reviewing Quality Matters Standards 8.5
General Standard 8 addresses Accessibility & Usability
Standard 8.5 focuses on ease of use in relation to multimedia in your course.
- Per Quality Matters, the last standard in General Standard 8 asks instructors to “maximize usability by ensuring multimedia used as a vehicle for content or feedback (e.g., images, audio, animation, video, and interactive components) are easy to use, intelligible, and inter-operational across devices.” In a very basic way, part of maximizing usability during the course design process is making sure that all of the multimedia content you place in your course is smooth and functional, as well as meaningfully synchronized with your course goals and objectives. One of the main things to keep in mind for Standard 8.5 is thinking about the student’s user experience. For instance, placing a movie file that takes up several gigabytes of space directly in your Learning Management System for students to download may bring the learning experience to a complete halt if they don’t have the highest speed internet available. Similarly, what if the file isn’t cross-compatible on a Mac computer, or a mobile device? Thinking through usability often involves coming up with creative, technological solutions to these problems. Can the same video be embedded in the course through a streaming service like YouTube, or a university server to alleviate students having to download the video in a specific format? Moreover, does the video compliment or complicate the learning process? If it doesn’t enhance the material in some way, don’t feel the need to add it in for its own sake.
- In order for this standard to be met, the multimedia you place in your course needs to be consistently easy to view, operate and interpret. Here’s a few questions from Quality Matters to ask yourself that will help you decide if you’ve designed your course with usability in mind:
- Do the graphics and animations I use to enhance instructional materials and illustrate ideas without causing distractions?
- Are the images I employ appropriately sized and can they be viewed in their entirety without scrolling?
- Is the audio quality in my course clear, sufficiently loud and ascertainable?
- Can all the video windows be resized, and is the resolution is sufficient for comprehension?
- Are my videos too long (15 to 20 minutes)? If so, can they are broken into shorter segments and/or are they searchable?
- Are my videos viewable in a smooth stream without frequent interruptions? Note that some videos must be of high quality in order for content to be clearly understood. An example would be a video demonstrating sign language, in which learners need to be able to accurately discern.
- Is all the multimedia in the course cross-platform compatible (PC, Mac), and compatible across commonly used web-browsers? If not, is guidance given for what the best browser is to use?
AP Guidance: If you answered ‘no’ to any of the questions above, take some time to consider redesign strategies that will help make your course more usable for your students. Before placing your course online, ready your students by maximizing usability!
Click here to access Quality Matters eLearning Marketplace. The Quality Matters eLearning Marketplace is a free, searchable database built to serve the broad QM community with an easy-to-use eLearning product/service directory organized within the 8 general standards of the rubric as well as by user and product categories.
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