Evans, Shirley (2009)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
The thesis focuses upon the use of e-learning by learners who are blind. Specifically, the research examined whether they could access and engage in e-learning and, if so, was this on the same basis and of the same quality as sighted learners? The thesis describes the development of a conceptual framework which distinguished between the activities of ‘accessing’, ‘using’ and ‘doing’ when engaging in e-learning. The framework was combined with cognitive load theory as the underpinning theoretical framework and used as a method of describing and understanding the quality of the learning experience. In the main study it was found that the two groups of learners did have a similar learning experience although it took the learners who were blind approximately twice as long to complete the task as the sighted learners. It is argued that while learners who are blind can 'access' e-learning material, even if it is designed carefully there may be a danger of excluding them from the learning experience. The thesis concludes by linking the findings to legislation in terms of specialist skills for supporting learners who are blind, accessibility and usability of e-learning materials, and funding and availability of specialist education and technology.
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