Quick Bytes Live! Podcast

Kari Robideau and her pal, IT Goldy

#18:  Remember these 7 things in your teaching webinars 

(recorded June 5, 2017)
This podcast is a special edition with an extended discussion of the criteria for good webinars, not to mention our special guest! Don't miss it! Amy, Karen, Alison, and special guest Kari Robideau (live from Moorehead, MN) go over the seven components of the Delivering High Quality Webinars "rubric." We also talk about how you could evaluate your own webinar performance. Spoiler alert, one way is watching your own webinars! Eww!
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What is digital accessibility? 

According to whatis.com, digital accessibility is the ability for a website, mobile application, or electronic document to be easily navigated and understood by a wide range of users, including those users who have visual, auditory, motor or cognitive disabilities. People who have disabilities navigate websites using technology that helps them understand the content on the page. For example, a blind person uses a screen reader that will read the content to them; a person with no use of their hands may use a head pointer; and people who have difficulty typing may use text input software.

Example of a Screen Reader

** In this Quick Byte, I will only be discussing website accessibility.

Who does it affect? 

Disabilities affect a large part of the population – 15-20%. These can be temporary disabilities such as a broken arm or eye surgery; permanent disabilities such as deafness or blindness; or it could be an invisible disability such as ADHD or dyslexia. All of these types of disabilities will affect the way a person interacts with the web.

What can content editors do? 

When adding content to the web, be mindful of the people who use our websites. Here are some basic rules to follow:

Content

When writing content, be clear and concise. Scan-able content is very important for people who have trouble reading. Use headers, shorter paragraphs, lists, and plain language.

Headers

The header HTML (ex: H1, H2, H3, etc.) is not just used for looks. Screen readers will scan the page for all the headers and read them back to the user. Think of using headers as the outline of the page. They should always go in numerical order, do not skip headers and go from H2 to H4. Here's an example of what it should look like:

H1
     H2
          H3
               H4
     H2
          H3
     H2

Lastly, only include one H1 on each page. The H1 should be the topic of the entire page.

Images 

Images on websites can be used to add context to content or they can just be decoration on the page. Someone who is blind cannot see these images which is why alternative (alt) text is important. Alt text are words used to describe what the image is displaying. These words appear in the code, but not on the page. When a screen reader comes across an image, it will read this text to the user.

The only images that need alt text are the ones that add context to the associated content. If they’re used as a decorative addition, only include alt=”” in the code and the screen reader will pass right by it. If the blank alt="" is not included, the screen reader will read the image's file name back to the user.

diagram for when to use alt text on images

Photo Source: Adrian Roselli from his Selfish Accessibility presentation at MinneWebCon 2017. 

Links

Many times, links are denoted with a different color. This may not work for someone who has trouble seeing color differences. Adding an underline or a specific icon to the link helps all users understand that they can click on the words and be taken somewhere else. The underline should be included in the style sheet by the web designer or developer, so this isn’t something a content editor should have to worry about.

Example of what a colorblind person sees on our site with underlines (left) and without (right).
Screen shot of U of M Extension webpage with underlined links Screen shot of U of M Extension webpage without underlined links
When writing words that will become links, remember to be descriptive. Do not use ‘learn more’, ‘read more’, or ‘click here’. Screen readers can scan a page for all the links and read them back to the user. ‘Click more’ does not tell the user where they will go. Instead, you could use ‘learn about Extension’ and add the link to the whole phrase.


Summary

Creating websites that are accessible to all people takes work from everyone on the team. The more you consider how all users of a website are navigating around, the more people you will be able to serve.


Quick Bytes Live! Podcast

Episode 17:  Phishing, Google Photos, and more

(recorded May 24, 2017)
Amy, Karen, Alison, and Billie go over some ways you can be on high alert for Phishing attacks. We also have a tech tip about using Google Photos, and we all play Karen's Quiz Byte game, which this week is a fun idea for a meeting warm up.

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When I help people first learn WebEx, it’s hard for me not to overload them with all the great things you can do in a webinar. Most people learn the tool quickly and after hosting a few sessions, they are pretty proficient. But having a high quality webinar is more than just knowing how to use the software.

Kari and Karen.jpg
Karen and Kari, MN eLearning Summit 2016
Kari Robideau, Extension Educator in Youth Development and I have presented a number of workshops called “Sharpen Your Webinar Teaching Skills” where we focus on the research related to teaching and engaging participants in distance learning environments and we demonstrate/share techniques for distance learning. Between Kari’s experience teaching with webinar technologies and my experience supporting and teaching Extension employees how to use the tools, it has been a great collaboration.

Our workshop introduces participants to a webinar evaluation rubric for Extension. This is an evaluation tool that will assess the effectiveness and quality of extension staff teaching online. It can be used as a reflective practice tool for the teacher and/or as a peer review by a colleague.

The Rubric

The rubric includes 7 key webinar components and each component has 3-5 indicators. Examples are provided with each indicator. The 7 components are not a checklist that need to be completed in any order. As with any rubric, you know that if you have high marks in these areas, you will have a high quality presentation.
  • Technology: Tools, Distractions, Supplemental Materials
  • Content: Presenter Information, Goals, On Task
  • Organization: Direction, Online Accuracy, Information Chunking, Structure
  • Delivery: Variety, Reflection, Transitions
  • Visual Aids: Purpose, Readability, Scaffolding Information, Visual Relevance, Visual Variety
  • Participant Interaction: Active Learning Approaches, Expectation of Participants, Questions
  • Evaluation: Evaluation Provided

Example of the Technology component scoresheet:



Kari and I are very interested in feedback about anyone who uses the rubric to score and evaluate your webinars or even if you use it as a reflective practice tool or peer review by a colleague. Also, if you have suggestions for improving the tool, please let us know that as well!

Did you know...


  • It takes hackers only 9 minutes to crack an 8 character password.
  • You should use unique passwords for every account you create.
  • Passwords are not enough - you should use two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible. 
These are a few of many messages shared by Jenny Blaine at a recent Stay Safe Online presentation. Jenny is a Security Analyst with the University’s Information Security office. She reminded us that scams are nothing new except now they are more sophisticated, online, on your phone and on social media. Her presentation was not meant to scare us but rather inform us about ways we can protect ourselves.

Here are more resources and examples of what she shared:
Jenny is presenting her Stay Safe Online workshop at Extension staff conference this Thursday. It will be well worth your time!

Extension Technology at Staff Conference

We are looking forward to seeing you at staff conference and hope you join us in one or more of our workshops:

9:45 - 10:45 a.m.

Extension Quick Bytes Technology Demonstrations, Room 155
Join us for a look at several new tools you can use for collaboration, productivity, teaching and work/life balance. We will provide simultaneous small group demonstrations and use cases, giving you the information you need to decide if it would work for you. The open format will allow you to choose which demos you want to see, or see them all! This fun session will give you dozens of ideas and reboot your brain for fresh perspectives on how to enhance your work

10:55 - 11:55 am

Extension Quick Bytes Technology Demonstrations, Room 155 (repeat)

2:00 - 4:00 pm

Editing Educational Videos: Hands-on workshop, Room 230 LES
If you have ever taken video on a mobile device or camera and would like to learn how to edit and share your video, this workshop is for you! This hands-on workshop will teach you how to produce fast and easy educational videos. The primary focus here is on the editing and publishing piece of production. This workshop is intended for people who have previous experience shooting basic videos on mobile devices. Laptops provided. Limited to 30. Pre-registration required.

3:05 - 4:00 pm

Advanced PowerPoint: Slides that are compelling, creative and quick, Room 156
Would you like to raise the quality of your presentations and visuals? Learn advanced PowerPoint design best practices and easy ways to improve visualization of your numeric and non-numeric data. We'll show makeovers of different types of visuals (visuals donated by your Extension colleagues!) that will demonstrate how to improve your data visualization with quick changes using basic Microsoft Office software.




Quick Bytes Live! Podcast

Episode 16:  Infographics and e-publishing

(recorded May 9, 2017)
Amy, Karen, and Alison chat about one of Amy's favorite online tools, Piktochart. They discuss good uses of infographics and other similar tools. Alison answers a listener question about e-book publishing. And we all take her Quiz Byte!
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It's no secret around here, I am a huge fan of a free, online tool called Piktochart. I use it all the time to make infographics, usually shamelessly self-promoting our team. For example, this one!


I just have so much fun with these. You can upload your own images, so that's how I got little IT Goldy, our team pic, and even some branding on there. Then you can download as a PNG (image file) or share via a link (or even embed on the web with iframes, for you fellow nerds). Pretty handy.

Another one that our team has made for many years is our "By the Numbers" infographic (below). Infographics lend themselves especially well to this kind of thing. Numbers buried in paragraphs aren't as compelling. I embedded this one so the links in there are even live--nice, huh?



One thing to be aware of is that these infographics are very visual, and likely make their information difficult for visually impaired readers to get at. For this reason, I like these to be a supplement to the usual forms of information. Kind of a "cliff's notes" version of a real information source.

I've also used Piktochart to make presentations, which are super easy to create. You might want to be sure you have a good internet where you'll be presenting it. The presentations feature gives you a series of slide-sized infographics to page through.

Try it out and let us know what you do with it!