CMALT: (3A) Wider Context

“Statements here should show how relevant legislation, policies, strategies, technical standards, professional/research codes of practice and so on have influenced your work. You are not expected to have expert knowledge of all of these areas, but are expected to be aware of how they relate to your current practice. Relevant legislation policies and standards are likely to include special educational needs/accessibility, discrimination, copyright and intellectual property, freedom of information, data protection and privacy issues. The kinds of evidence that would support this would include minutes of meetings with legal advisers, documentation showing how legal issues have influenced work (such as reports or data protection forms), justifications for modifications to a course to reflect new policies or a record of how technical standards have been taken into account during system development.”

3a. Understanding and engaging with legislation, policies and standards

I have talked about my journey as a Learning Technologist in this portfolio already, and made quite a few links and references to this journey, and one aspect of this journey has been understanding the different environments, policies, teams, structures, and working practices that exist in not only different Institutions but also within different departments or even different teams within the same departments.

Working within the rigour of policies and legal frameworks is never more prevalent than when dealing with new academics and the thorny issue of copyright. Copyright, and not adhering to it, can have drastic consequences to a University so it is important that everyone is aware of it and the Copyright License Agency (CLA). At Leicester we have implemented the online TALIS Aspire system and we now have the ability to create electronic reading lists. Whilst training for the system is provided centrally by the Library I talk at length with individuals and departments on the advantages of using it to control and monitor access to paper and online resources, thereby ensuring compliance with copyright law (see Supporting Evidence item 1). I bring this evidence to my portfolio in here as I have used the blog and my face-to-face meetings as opportunities to encourage academics to source their reading list from within the current library catalogue and what is currently available. As well as identifying the preferences for the reading list the online reading list can also help identify alternative resources the library are willing to investigate; open access journals and papers, websites, etc. These reading lists can become valuable online resources (especially important when working on a fully online course reading list) for the students. Often these discussions take a tangential direction about publishing, blogging, and the use of social media networks and how the academic could start to utilise them in their teaching (or indeed their own professional development or research).

Alongside these conversations I also make the most of the opportunity to work with these academics to understand that they cannot just scan a journal or book and load this to Blackboard – this is breaking the terms of copyright. By highlighting examples in their own learning resources I am able to direct them to the central Library team who can obtain the necessary permission to make electronic copies of the journal or book (one chapter or up to 5% of the book – see Supporting Evidence item 2). This is often a good introduction for staff on the appropriate action that needs to be taken regarding links and uploads, and when one should be used instead of the other (e.g. Creative Commons images, financial reports, etc.).

Alongside the legal implications of copyright I ensure that the work I produce conforms to a standard accessibility, as outlined by the University’s own documentation or that defined by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines . Whether I am producing a paper resource or digital one, the needs of those with restricted or impaired vision or mobility are to be considered and addressed:

  • When creating walk-through videos we have determined that loading them to YouTube is the best solution for storage, delivery, and platform detection (see Supporting Evidence item 3). With videos hosted on YouTube (and staff agreement to host their support materials there too) it is the YouTube system that determines playback resolution, player size, streaming media, etc., which not only takes the load off our own systems but also ensures smooth and reliable playback on different devices, including tablet and accessibility screen readers. 
  • Paper editions of the same resources link to the online videos by way of a shortened Google URL (see Supporting Evidence item 4). The shortened URL is for aesthetic purposes, length of URL the user needs to type, and to use the automated statistics for each URL to track how many users click visit the video.
  • Image and files loaded to Blackboard are assigned alternative text and correctly signposted within the Blackboard environment to ensure screen readers can correctly identify and read them (according to the Blackboard Learn Accessibility Resource).
  • In order that materials are easily accessible for users using the Blackboard Learn Mobile App files (such as PowerPoint, PDF, Excel, etc.) are loaded to the item or assessment as attachments from the Content Collection and not using the file upload facility available in the text editor. If they are uploaded using this second method they do not work.
  • Ensure no student name or data is showing in any form in any materials, paper or digital, to ensure compliance with the University’s Data Protection Statement.

It is not always easy to have the time to continually reference these different guidelines but, with time and experience, they become more integrated to the workflow and knowledge exchange that happens when working either independently or as part of a project team. It is easier to draw these accessibility ‘guidelines’ into conversations in the initial stages of a project as well as during the final stages, as part of the checking process before work is signed off and completed.

Supporting Evidence:

  1. Blog post: Electronic Reading List @ Leicester
  2. Blog post: Copyrighted materials and your Course
  3. YouTube Videos: Department of Criminology Playlist (Online Assessment)
  4. Online Assessment: Guide for Markers (Department of Criminology – PDF download)

Portfolio pages: