[Athen] recommendations accessible interactive e-learning/training creation tools?

Petri, Kenneth petri.1 at osu.edu
Thu Oct 22 11:52:14 PDT 2015


Ohio State has purchased an enterprise LMS that is being used for faculty and staff training, primarily. A migration of content into this LMS has begun, and we are struggling to find acceptably accessible solutions for delivery of e-learning trainings. In addition to accessibility, some of the requirements for such e-learning creation tools/deliverables are that they be deliverable as SCORM and/or IMS LTI, that they are relatively easy to create content within, that they incorporate the option for quizzing/knowledge checks, that lessons can perform logical branching, and that they are "non-ugly" (my term), include rich interactives, and encourage a high level of end-user engagement (not dull to work through, that is).

I imagine most of you are familiar/all-too-familiar with this space, since there has been a huge increase in async training/instruction. Here are brief summaries of the interactive e-learning products we've encountered, with comments on accessibility and "appeal" for creators and learners. (Note: at this point, we are focused on accessibility of output, not on authoring accessibility.)

* Articulate Storyline: Widely used on campus. Product has some serious accessibility concerns but strong appeal, due to the fact that instruction can branch, creation is relatively straight-forward, and the end result can be very engaging. Only the Flash version has any sort of accessibility. The HTML5 version was dead in the water with regard to accessibility when we last tested it (at least 9 months ago). But, of course, since it's Flash, there are major limitations (e.g., for screen reader users, the only (semi-)viable option is JAWS + IE). And there seem to be some interactions within the tool that just can't be incorporated in an accessible manner.

* SoftChalk: Used in some places on and generally quite accessible for a wide range of content, but significantly lacking in appeal, since the focus in the tool is on long chunks of text and relatively dull interactivity. The tool also doesn't seem to support branching - presentations are linear, with no logical branching mechanisms that I am aware of. Additionally, the approach to making "difficult" content accessible - content like math and JavaScript interactives, such as sorting widgets, interactive maps, and carousels - is to create text alternatives. To me this is a non-optimal approach, since we know how to make much of this kind of content natively accessible - the "alt text" route seems like a cop out.

* Lectora: There has been some occasional use, but the tool is less refined than its obvious competition (Storyline), and accessibility is harder to achieve and results are not as good, even with significant effort put toward making accessible content.

* Adobe Captivate: Nice interactions but we haven't done any testing on accessibility recently. When we did a few years back, the results were very poor.

* Custom/pre-packaged solutions: We have a couple of these floating around and have done some recent work with CampusClarity/Lawroom. The CC/Lawroom trainings are truly excellent in terms of content and engagement, and we worked with the company and their developers to make the trainings delivered here highly accessible. (We have trainings on Title IX (for staff) and sexual harassment (for students) deployed and they are both engaging and accessible.) Unfortunately, CC/Lawroom delivers pre-packaged trainings. There is no "platform"/product for local staff to use to create their own trainings (though I believe the CC/Lawroom is exploring this.)

A couple of others that we've glanced at:

* Xerte (a project from the University of Nottingham). There is a claim of accessibility, but the platform delivery appears to be solely Flash based. I have downloaded sample lessons, but even when running this in IE + JAWS the results were not encouraging. This may be a project worth following, though, since it comes out of a university and highlights accessibility.

* eXeLearning (a project of the Spanish Ministry of Education). This one feels like a less feature rich version of SoftChalk. Accessibility seems to be pretty high on the radar, but the output leans toward long chunks of text, like SoftChalk, and the interactives are fairly weak.

* Raptivity: Feels like a less accessible clone of Storyline.

Finally, Adapt looks really interesting. It's just code - no creation tool at this point, but the group is claiming WCAG AA compliance for the newest release of the library/framework. The sample course on their site has major accessibility issues, but I can't tell if the sample is based on the new/version 2.0 release or not: https://community.adaptlearning.org/

FYI: Here is a fairly comprehensive list of HTML5 e-learning authoring packages: http://elearningindustry.com/the-ultimate-list-of-html5-elearning-authoring-tools

Feedback and/or recommendations are appreciated.


[The Ohio State University]
Ken Petri
Director, Web Accessibility Center
Student Life Disability Services and ADA Coordinator's Office
102D Pomerene Hall, 1760 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210
614-292-1760 Office / 614-218-1499 Mobile / 614-2924190 Fax
petri.1 at osu.edu<mailto:petri.1 at osu.edu> wac.osu.edu<http://wac.osu.edu/>

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