Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ideas, anyone?

Last week I attended the IDEAS 508 conference in Washington, DC.

Like the mine visit last month, I was able to see firsthand users with a wide range of disabilities, from the vision-impaired using screen readers and magnifiers to even a blind man using a laptop-like device (minus monitor) and something in Braille printed at the top of the device.

At a session on "Accessible Universities and Colleges" I learned the difficulty in creating accessible "webtronic content." Mike Behrmann from GMU presented four challenges to accessibility:
1. awareness
2. ensuring collaboration
3. changing procurement practices
4. being ahead of the curve on new technologies

These just struck out at me, and I know that in my future career I'm going to be working with and relating to these every day.

On another note, one of the most difficult things I'm finding regarding instructional design is knowing how to work with the content. I'm not an SME on mining; I only just begun learning about this unique science a few months ago. I'm learning to balance the task of writing learning outcomes to match the desired content we hope to get across to the miners, while ensuring the content is interesting, challenging, and engaging. Whew! One of my team's main tasks is incorporating the right material into the training -- relevant material that's not too simple and fits the bill of what MSHA knows is important for miners to know. How do we sift through vast quantities of content to pick out the most relevant pieces of information in a field which, 3 months ago, we knew nothing about?


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