Hello everyone! My name is Ladek and my guest for this episode is Gavin Henrick, CEO and Co-Founder at Brickfield Education Labs.
Gavin is a deeply experienced education technology executive who leverages his broad product and market knowledge to tackle learning and development challenges. He co-founded Brickfield in 2019 to focus on improving accessibility, quality of content and assessments in Learning Management Systems like Moodle and Open LMS.
In this very ‘accessible’ conversation, Gavin and I talk about
00:00 › Start
8:05 › What Is Accessibility in Learning Design—especially when talking about learning challenges not related to a permanent disability.
11:18 › How Gavin Works with clients to assuage fears around creating accessibility as part of an inclusive culture in an organization and what are the top challenges these clients identify?
24:52 › VIP SOPs—Gavin discusses his process for helping teams form the habit of creating things that are accessible like manuals, SOPs and checklists.
28:02 › Established Accessibility Goal Structures—Whether they exist, and how they might vary across organizations by size or focus
38:18 › AI Efficiencies—Gavin discusses how AI plays into creating efficiencies around accessibility and how Brickfiled Labs is incorporating this into their toolset
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Learn more at openlms.net Hello everyone, my name’s Ladek, and my guest for this episode is Gavin Henrick. He’s the CEO and co-founder at Brickfield Education Labs.
Gavin is a deeply experienced education technology executive who leverages his broad product and marketing knowledge to tackle learning and development challenges.
He co-founded Brickfield in 2019 to focus on improving accessibility, quality of content, and assessments in learning management systems like Moodle.
In this accessible conversation, Gavin and I talk about what exactly is accessibility in learning design, and especially when we’re talking about learning challenges not related to a permanent disability.
We then talk about how Gavin works with clients to assuage fears around creating accessibility as part of an inclusive culture and an organization, and what are the top challenges that those clients identify in this process?
Gavin then discusses his process for helping teams form the habit of creating things that are accessible, like using manuals and SOPs and checklists, etc.
Next, we talk about whether or not there’s an established accessibility goal structure and how that might vary across organizations by size or focus or some other criteria.
And then finally, Gavin discusses how AI or artificial intelligence plays into creating efficiencies around accessibility and how Brickfield Labs is incorporating this into their tool set.
Now remember, we record this podcast live so that we can interact with you, our listeners, in real time. So if you’d like to join the fun every week on LinkedIn, on Facebook, or on YouTube, just come over to elearnmagazine.com and subscribe.
Now, I give you Gavin Henrick. Hello, everyone. Welcome to the elearn podcast. I’m glad to have you with us here if you’re listening live or if you are listening to the recording of this, you know, we’re happy to have you with us.
I have a fantastic guest today who is on the screen here with me. Mr. Gavin Henrick. Hello, Gavin. How are you today? Hey, I’m not too bad at all.
Excellent. I know that it’s not the same time as my day right now. So it’s about noon for me. You are over there at Brickfield Education Labs on the other side of the pond, as we like to say. What time is it for you?
Oh, it’s just after 7pm here, but I’m only just back this side of the pond. I spent the last two weeks on the other side of the pond and both sides of the country.
I’ve been at the mountain moot in Helena, Montana, and then I bounced through Seattle down to Raleigh, or I should say Raleigh, because I kept on getting told how I was saying it wrong.
I spent a bit of time down there in North Carolina and then over to Dobson, the North Carolina Community Colleges Conference, and that was interesting, hot and humid.
Yeah, I know. That’s the summertime up there in the old Estados Unidos, for sure. Excellent. For anyone who doesn’t know you, which there’s a couple of people out there who haven’t met you before, you’re the CEO and co-founder of Brickfield Education Labs, as I mentioned before.
Give us the 60 seconds on what Brickfield does. So what’s your focus? Well, at Brickfield we’re passionate about accessibility. We work with institutions who are looking to increase the accessibility of their digital content in their learning management system, be it Moodle, OpenMMS, Workplace, Totara, any of the Moodle-based systems, really.
And we’ve three main things that we work with. So firstly, we work with analyzing the content that’s built into Moodle and producing reports to help understand what’s wrong.
And then on top of that, we have some wizards which help them bulk-fix those issues. I’m sorry, hold on.
I brought back a cup from America with all the air conditioning. And the second part of our system helps students basically download content in formats that they want, so they go to a book or a page in Moodle or a file,
and they go, hey, you know what? I’d like to listen to this on the way home so they can download an mp3, or they want to use an ebook reader so they can download an e-pub.
And the last part of our service is that we provide extensive training on accessibility to our client staff. Fantastic. I think that’s synchronous and asynchronous. We have these four modules which our client can put all of their staff in, not just the academics or the IT and support staff, but the marketing and HR and all of them.
So I want to go down the path. I mean, our conversation is going to be about essentially building an accessible and inclusive organization. I had the pleasure and the pleasure of having you on the podcast before.
We’ve also had you on the e-learn success series before, and so I love your message. Before we go there, again, just let’s set the stage.
Can you give us your synopsis on what does accessibility mean for anyone who’s listening right now who’s like, I’m not quite sure exactly what that means, especially in the context of online learning.
So accessibility is about having the content just work for everyone, not just the content, but the assignments, the course. So rather than where in the past people had to put up their hand and say, hey, I have a disability, I need an accommodation, which was a special case.
And sometimes that’s still required, but just that everybody would be able to have it work by default. Just give a few examples. So for example, the links describe what they’re going to do. It’s not just a long URL or the words click here.
It’s about having that the videos that they have captions and a transcript transcripts is the alternative of a video from a text point of view, not just having captions captions help in the real time audio,
but then you need to have a transcript for the full text alternative. So it’s about applying all of that plus good organizational skill, good organizational structure of the content, good predictable consistent navigation.
There’s a lot to unpack within that. And the key thing is that if you’ve done well, it will just work for all students for those with or without a disability.
And I do like this one phrase, and I’m just going to read it here, and it was from a joint letter of to the State Department in the US from 13 years ago.
You know, we’re having this goal of that a person with a disability can acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, enjoy the same services in an equally effective, equally integrated manner,
but substantially equivalent ease of use as a person without a disability. And that’s key. So it’s the same information, not just a subset. It’s the same interactions, not just the offline ones, but the full thing.
I think that’s really key. But the phrase that I like there is equally effective, equally integrated. So that it still should be good learning. It should be good teaching.
And an example of that would be if you were, say, doing a face to face class, and you’re doing a topic which you knew well in advance, you could have people submit questions in advance, not just on the day, because on the day there will only be a few questions and people who can think quickly enough to go,
yeah, I’ve got a question and are also willing to put their hand up. Where if you submit questions in an asynchronous way, even beforehand, you’re enabling everyone to consider the content and then to submit the questions and not just real time on the day.
And that is an equally integrated manner because some people just in a barrier, if you are a bit shy and don’t want to pick your hand up or if you need more time to reflect on what the teacher was just talking about.
So equally effective, equally integrated and substantially equivalent ease of use. So there are those kind of phrase that I think works really well.
So that means you don’t put up barriers. And so accessibility is designing content and workflows and assignment processes without barriers.
Awesome. I think that I probably mentioned your name no less than five times on Global Accessibility Day when we had our events over here at OpenLMS. One of the things that in our past conversations that really stuck with me and I loved the most was, you’ve mentioned the word disability a couple of times here, but also just sort of thinking about that is not, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a permanent disability or something like that.
It can be a functional disability. It can be a momentary, you know, a place in time kind of disability. For example, you often give the example of, you know, if I were to break my right arm, you know, my writing ability would, you know, kind of not be available for the next six weeks.
Exactly. I hurt myself in Judo. One of the things which is really useful, so organizations like Microsoft, they have this inclusive design kit where they give a good examples of permanent, temporary and situational disabilities or barriers.
So someone might, as you said, have a permanent disability with their arm or you might have a temporary one where I hurt myself in Judo and couldn’t write for a while.
But you can also have a situational one where you’re having to carry something and now you only have one hand to engage with. And when you’re thinking about technology and interacting, say, with a quiz, suddenly you’re typing one-handed.
So requiring people to type really quickly and like typing in that question and without spelling mistakes and so on in real time with one hand isn’t so great.
Or if you’re expecting people to be able to use a mouse and a keyboard, but what about when it’s only the keyboard or only a touchscreen? So having the concept of mouse over and stuff built into your user interface is all a good thing.
So, and that’s just one example because you could as well have someone who is fully deaf, you could have someone who has partial hearing or someone’s situationally in a loud environment or a quiet environment.
So take an example of this video. So someone listening to this in the library studying. Or a shared office space or something like that, right?
Yeah, or a shared office space. They don’t have headphones. They can’t just play it on the speakers. So they turn the sound down and they turn the captions on. And that’s really important because then that enables them to play that at a time of their choosing with the constraints of where they are.
And I think that’s key. It’s understanding that it isn’t just about visible, permanent disabilities or people with it. It’s about the barriers that these kind of functional abilities can create if the content’s done in a certain way.
So if the content is done without captions, then people with both permanent, temporary or situational barriers and challenges can have problems there.
I think that’s key. So you try and design the content to not have that barrier. So have captions so that the audio is not required. Have a transcript so they can actually print it off or scan through the text differently than having to go through the video second by second, minute by minute.
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So I want to take this. I feel like it’s kind of a perfect jumping off place to talking about how we can create accessibility as an inclusive culture in an organization.
So I want to take you there and ask you about that. And my first question there is what we just described, I could see a lot of hand-wringing. I could see a lot of people sitting around the table either at a school or at a company.
The L&D department is saying, oh, this sounds like so much work. We’re going to have to put so many more steps in and it just sounds complicated. How do you approach that in your consulting practice or when you’re engaging with a potential client to assuage that fear or offer a strategy to say, look, this is how we can do it.
So do you spell check? I’m being direct. Do you spell check? Yeah. Do I? Do you spell check when you write content?
I believe, yes. I think that’s default now. You have to. There’s no way you can’t. No, it’s turned on by default. And you can also turn on in Microsoft Word or in PowerPoint.
It is also checking the accessibility of the contents that you’re creating. And it goes, ooh, you’ve got an image that doesn’t have any artifacts.
Or, you know, this slide doesn’t have a heading because you deleted the heading because you didn’t want it. And you can create then invisible headings, but it’s still there from a PowerPoint structure point of view.
But organization change is a challenge. And you want to create this culture. It has to come from the top. There has to be a clear vision and a commitment.
And why does that need to happen? Well, because the vision means that people know where you’re going. They’re saying, so we want to have an inclusive culture.
Great. Commitment means priority. Commitment means resources, people and money. Because you do have three aspects to cultural and sort of accessibility projects or change around that.
You have the technology that’s going to be used. You have the culture of the people and the ways of working. And then you have the capacity or the skill set of the people involved.
And so without commitment, there’s no money to pay for the technology, to pay for the skill development, the training, which is there because people since the age of three or four have learned that spelling is important.
They now need to be trained how to use the technology and just in new ways of working, that accessible content is important. It’s as important, you know, and or more important.
And so that’s the first part. So then in dealing with that whole approach of going, well, what about the accessible, the culture? This is where that vision becomes this sort of shared understanding to that everyone is going to work towards accessibility.
So the marketing posts on X, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, ABC are going to.
So they’re going to be accessible. The text will have all the text. The videos will have caption. The website will. The learning content will.
Culture isn’t just their teaching and learning department. The emails and interaction with the support staff in IT. That’s going to be accessible because it is about having that commitment and trying to deal with things like lack of awareness.
You want to build empathy and have proactive efforts around it. Not just reactive because that’s that’s key to address those barriers and to not build them in.
So if you’re going to send an email and it’s not just some like huge long list of like a Google dot URL or whatever. It’s actually naming what the file is going to be in the URL hidden in the background.
But to get culture, then you need to have everybody involved. So if you’re going to have that shared engagement, you need to have students involved. You need to have order learners.
You need to have the teachers, the people building the material, the support staff, the IT infrastructure. HR, their adverts, their job descriptions, their way of engaging with people, their way of interviewing people has to be inclusive and has to be accessible.
And that has to all come. So you have to have all of these different stakeholders involved and not just involved, but engaged and empowered.
And that’s where again goes back to the vision goes back to the commitment. So I think that’s really, really key. And then that will fail if there isn’t effective change.
And have you found and have you found again, as you’ve been doing this for such a long time, you know, following through that vision.
Obviously, there’s there’s all of the typical change management failures that happen. You know, there’s just not consistent follow through. It’s, you know, it’s just all talk. There’s not real action. It’s not put in places.
What are the one or two maybe top challenges that you’ve gotten either pushed back on or you’ve kind of heard in those side conversations with clients about, you know, this is this is my fear or this is this is where I see our big issue is is it trying to take it all on at once.
Is it, I don’t know, let me, I’ll just leave it there for you. It’s interesting question and came up while I was over in the States as well.
And the idea that sometimes it’s about having dedicated staff. So it might be a staff resourcing issue, both in the teaching and learning side and then in the accessibility support or disability support.
And that can also be naming. There was a presentation where someone was talking about having named renamed their department and office from disability services to accessible student support.
So it was or something like that. And it was about to have more people coming, coming there. So and less barriers to access even the support systems that are in place.
But it’s usually literally just not there at the beginning of projects. It’s not there. It’s not having that commitment from the top level to say that every project is going to be accessible.
All of our projects are going to include the right stakeholders. And there’s a phrase nothing for me without me or something along that line.
And it’s about including people with disabilities and who use the accessible technologies or assistive technologies to make their life better.
And I remember there was a student talked about it in a conference we ran about two years ago and they sort of went, you know, when everything just works, they’re not reminded of their disability.
So and that works for across the board. I mean, not everyone will have a diagnosis. Not every disability is visible.
And so you have to design a place without or design the content and the processes to work for everyone by default. So they just don’t have to put up their hand or as one of my colleagues used to do that hairband with an arrow on their head.
Not everyone has an arrow on their head. And they shouldn’t have to. But they need to have these commitments because they need the structures.
They need the commitment that the continual professional development about building capacity among all staff is there. Because training takes time.
Now we provide unlimited training as part of our toolkit for the staff of our organizations that we work with, which is unusual. But they still need to allocate time.
And for those who are on hourly rates, then time needs to be put in there for those who are on full time contracts. They still need time that they’re going to expect maybe an hour a week, a half an hour a week that they’re going to be learning to improve their accessibility of content and of their engagement.
And that’s hard because when you’re looking at that interaction between students and all the different departments, you’ll probably identify quite a few barriers.
Like maybe that they have to phone in. Like certainly trying to engage with airlines while you’re flying and get even a number or an email to contact the airline staff at a particular airport is just nearly impossible on website.
But at institutions, they do have access to that. And it’s about making sure that there’s no barriers there so that they can email them. They can phone them if needed.
And it’s making all of the different technology available so they can innovate. I was meeting with a client today about their role life and about how you build awareness among the students about what’s available for them, whether or not they have a disability going, hey, you know what?
Do you want to listen to your lecture notes on the way home? Here’s a tool that you can use for that. Or do you use an ebook reader?
Did you know that you can convert your lecture or your study notes into an ebook so that you can learn it? And it’s about supporting everybody.
And I also just like the… I like the non-differentiation or the non-callout in that modality, right? That particular places. I’m thinking of my kids. Like I know that one of my sons would much more prefer to watch a video than another son would much more prefer to like read the notes, you know, kind of thing.
And so just presenting those options and say, hey, look, you can choose whatever makes the most sense for you. Then it doesn’t become a conversation around, hey, we’re building this as something special so that you have access.
It’s, you know, we’re offering these modalities so that everyone does have access, I guess. Yeah, and it is. I mean, it’s something which… And you might choose the same content in different formats at different times.
Like if they’re using the Moodle book with multiple chapters for content, which is great, you’re starting off with web. That’s going to be very accessible or more accessible by default.
You don’t create an accessible file by accident. It requires training and the right technology. But online, if you start off with the text editor, you’ve already got the navigation and structure to get to that page.
So it’s helping. But at that stage, you might want to read it. But you might want to download it and use it offline. You might download the Word document.
Or you might want to listen to it while you’re going for a walk. And so you’ll download an MP3. And these are the kind of things which you’re offering choice based on need.
Because, yes, I used to walk around with printed paper and reading it. Or when I was learning chess, I’d have a chessbook or a book of chess openings. And I’d be going around reading it.
I’ve got plenty of stubbed toes and walked into a lab post once. Which was probably not the best way. So listening to it would certainly be better as long as I can hear people coming.
So using that technology and using what’s available to the user at that time. And if you think about it, all those different departments that I mentioned and having them work together and collaborate is really important.
And part of our rollout of our technology, one of the steps we usually get. The different stakeholders from the different departments and faculties and organisations are going to be involved together.
So that people can understand what the goal of the rollout project is and all the different steps and who might be involved. Because then you create partnerships rather than imposing something.
People have buy-in because they understand where you’re going, they understand the why. The why is really important. You know, sometimes building empathy to understand, well, why is an image description important?
And so that’s why our processes try and address that, try and build empathy. And you can even run dedicated empathy workshops with leaders.
And I know some really good organisations in the UK do that. And I guess I’m an understanding of what colour blindness is. Of what being able to, having to operate a keyboard without a mouse or whatever else.
So that they can understand the technology a bit better. And the constraints that might be in place. Because then they can understand the why. And that becomes less of a, okay, should I do it?
Because the answer is should. Yes, you should do it. Yeah, yeah, I mean, I walk a mile on my shoes. It’s an incredible way just for people to build empathy.
But then also just have that, I just think of it as that light bulb moment of, oh yeah, this is why. This is why it’s important because, you know…
But you also… Go ahead. No, I was just gonna say, how would you take that… Building that empathy and those kinds of things.
I feel like it’s, is there a process you use for… I hesitate to use the term habit forming. Are there either checklists or manuals that you offer and say,
hey, look, here are the pieces of accessibility. Kind of a checklist that you should be putting in all of your, not only courses, but around your organisation. Like, what are those tools that you can show up with so that you make the lift easier or make that habit forming easier?
Yeah, so at conferences, I do a thing which I call an accessibility challenge where the individual is a bingo card.
What do I mean by the individual as a bingo card? We go through a set of, these are things, behaviours, habits, practices that people might have. And the idea is that they’re reflecting on their own practice and then going, yeah, okay, that’s me, that’s my team.
Everything from showing them colours with then colour blindness simulator or showing them lists of files and file names and going, okay, so where it’s like slides three, or the slides from week three for topic X and it’s not there because they’re all got undescriptive names without being saying what they are and then showing them, well,
how about this naming convention? And then I’ve got like a photograph of a unicorn. Is there anyone in the room who is the unicorn that actually follows naming conventions? And I had two unicorns in one workshop once,
but that balances out when there’s no unicorns in any of the others at all. So, but it’s going through some of those and getting people to reflect on how they work.
Like overusing capital letters or being just very diverse in their font usage. And one of the things from that is, it’s like when we talked about change earlier,
when people start that from the vision, they have the commitment, they have the resources in place, they have the processes, their building capacity, there’s one key part there and it’s having this continuous monitoring.
If accessibility as a culture, as a ways of working was a patient in a hospital, they would have their heart monitor.
Okay, that was a blood pressure taken. It’s having that monitoring and improvement to know that you are going in the right direction, that the accessibility patient is improving and is going to get better because it is a journey from where they are now to where they want to go.
And every organization and then every department and every individual is all on their own journey, depending on many things. Prior jobs, experience, personal life experience, technical knowledge and so on.
So you need to have people moving in a positive direction and the tomorrow is sort of better than today. Is there a goal structure that you sometimes like,
depending upon the size of organization or the client that you are working with or what not, where it’s like, okay, our goal is in the next 18 months, 100% of all images will have alt text or good alt text.
Is that kind of thing that you do or what’s your monitoring towards goal kind of thing? Yeah, so part of what we do is we talk about KPIs. I know that’s a horrible word for people.
It’s like talking about metadata. You know, metadata and KPIs fall into the same space. And I think one of the things that they want,
that I would set as a goal for people themselves or to encourage, is that they want to have integrated accessibility into their curriculum design process. So every time a new program is being revised or being developed,
accessibility is part of the design and development process and that it isn’t just an after thing. So it’s not that we don’t have time to do that anymore.
It’s like training. When people roll out technology, what’s the first thing they cut from the budget or from the quote? Oh yeah, can you take training off that? We’ll sort that out ourselves.
Yeah, no. Accessibility needs to be in there. It’s like data privacy needs to be in there. These are not just legal requirements, but they’re moral requirements. And so it needs to have accessibility requirements and designing the curriculum in,
because you don’t want to have inaccessible learning, inaccessible assessment being designed that’s going to exclude certain students or learners.
And often people want to talk about, you know, there’s some interactive, cool things that are visually amazing, but actually you have to go back to, well, what are you trying to assess here?
And then look at how you can assess it and then making sure the way you assess it actually will work for everyone. Or maybe you might have to have multiple ways of assessing, but the same thing,
because it’s like interactive videos, a really cool idea, perhaps, but they’re starting off with that it looks great. And once you start talking about one sense,
you’re sort of starting in the wrong place. You’re approaching it from the wrong road. You’re certainly not approaching it from, okay, so we want to assess the people’s understanding of making pancakes or whatever it might be and what’s involved.
And yes, you could do that with an interactive video, you could do it with many other ways as well about making sure that they get the ratios correct, they get the ingredients correct, the timing,
the technique on how to flip it and not put it in the roof or on the floor. All of these, but it’s what are you assessing? And I think that’s where it sort of comes in,
because this leans into universal design for learning, where you’re looking at multiple ways to assess the same thing, or so that someone might be giving an oral presentation,
someone else might be creating a project, someone else might be writing an essay. And yes, okay, there’s three different things to assess there, but the learning should be the same.
So the rubric might not be identical, but it will still be from an instructional design point of view and the learning outcomes. You’re looking for the same thing.
So I remember it was a chef’s college, 15 years ago or so, and they had to create a menu part of their graduation process,
and they didn’t just have to create the menu, they had to present the menu, so record themselves presenting it to someone who would be in the restaurant.
So they had to basically read their menu and put emphasis, so it wasn’t just like roast beef or whatever it was. And part of that was they could think about,
well, actually how does this sound as well? Sure. Yeah, it was a presentation, right, because that entices the customer, blah, blah, blah, blah. Exactly.
But it was still, can they put together a balanced menu, et cetera. But it was part of it was, actually what we’d like them to do is present it to someone, so that was an oral presentation.
But for people who couldn’t, then there’d have been a fallback, but the learning outcome was key, that they wanted someone to describe the thing. So then you could describe by text,
or you could describe verbally. I think that’s an interesting one, bringing in UDL in that way. So accessibility and UDL, obviously, they’re separate,
but you can… Just for anybody who doesn’t know, UDL is Universal Design for Learning. Just want to make sure we have some newbies who hear this. Yeah, sorry about that.
And that’s important, because then you can get to see those multiple modes of content, multiple modes of assessment,
because you do want… You don’t want to include everybody, because not everyone is going to be able to do every single thing, but you want to assess the learning outcome correctly.
I don’t know if it’s from that particular example that you just gave with the chefs, or thinking about maybe some of the work you’ve done recently.
I’d love to hear inspirational stories around this. Do you have any sort of aha moments, or the light bulb goes on, or a really great outcome happened in an organization you worked with,
and you got some great feedback that you’d shared. Just some inspiration for people who… Again, I still know, just anecdotally, whenever you ask a group,
or an organization or institution to, one, make change, but to fit a new piece into their normal processes, there’s grumbling, right? What are some of those aha moments that you’ve heard?
Well, I think one of the recent things we were working with an organization about two months ago, who had rolled out our product already, and they were revising and looking at what they had done,
and seeing the huge change in their course layout and content. So part of what we do, we let people,
or we give people access to our online training in our Moodle site, which is laid out in a very specific way. And there was one lecturer who talked about it,
and went, you know, having done your course, and while I was taking your course, I wasn’t as stressed out as when I was looking at my own course. And they tried to figure this out,
and they went back to their own course, and they realized that it was very overwhelming, the amount of content they put on the course page. And they just realized that, suddenly, it was just constantly distracting them,
and so they used the same paradigm that we have, which was a very clean index with very well-structured clean, so no content on the page. And they went back into their own,
and it’s actually, hold on a second, this is now making me much calmer, which is of course with .com, but it was a personal thing that they were just, they were learning how to do it, and realizing that actually what was annoying them,
and irritating them, and distracting them, when they were looking at their own course page, because they had gone, oh no, it’s really important to put another alert here, big paragraph in all caps,
or have a video on the course page, and all of this extra stuff which they thought was necessary, but actually once they saw a good alternative, so that was really good to hear,
because they were able to understand then for themselves the benefit of going from a more chaotic content to a more calming, structured, easy to navigate system.
And it’s not saying ours is the best ever, and I’m quite sure there’s loads of improvements we could do, but it was getting them to take that step through the road experiences.
Yes, we were telling them, we were instructing them with the material we have of the benefits of this, but they literally heard it from themselves, and they weren’t the only one in those organizations.
That kind of story is replicated across most organizations that we’ve worked with, where they get that aha moment to go, oh hold on a second, you know, why was I doing it this way?
And then they just spend a weekend like taking apart all the Lego blocks and putting them back together again, and suddenly they’re happier with it. They didn’t have to do massive changes,
it wasn’t a curriculum rewrite, but it was like, okay, let’s get the brush out and sweep away the dust and put things into boxes and into sections,
and suddenly they felt much happier and calmer with what they had. And that’s one of the things we hear, but also then it’s the type of training that we provide and the onboarding guidance that we ask questions of an organization.
Like part of our sales demo process is asking, well, where are you on your accessibility journey? What have you done so far?
What’s in the plans? And people will share things like, hey, you know what, well, we’ve been doing this and this is what we’ve achieved so far and this is what we’d like to focus on next and that’s why our toolkit then fits into that.
Or as we go, you know what, we’ve got so many pockets of excellence and what we’d like to do, try and harness that and have that sort of tide bring everybody up and sort of,
that’s where they identify these champions to help build the story of, hey, you know, I’ve been able to do this and yes, it was some extra work while I was learning how to do it or whatever it is and I think that can be really important.
Yeah. Speaking of taking, you know, taking the work and transforming it or thinking about it differently, I would be remiss if I did not ask you the AI question.
I mean, we do, we are having this on, you know, AI in Learning Summit. How did that play into either creating efficiencies around this challenge of accessibility or, you know,
just lightening the load of the lift in order to get it done or, you know, how have you been thinking about it at Brickfield Labs? So one of the first things is if you ever want to good laugh and get a nice image and have Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge also suggest ALT text for it.
Yeah. So it’s a good motivator for staff not to let someone else write their ALT text because it could be quite of music. And there are certain things that AI are going to be good for and certain things AI are not so not so good for.
So AI is often used in things like optical character recognition, OCR, so turning. So if you take a photograph of a page and upload it and then convert it to text or an MP3 with our system,
you know, there are layers, I mean, because AI isn’t now it’s being portrayed now, but it’s been around a while. I mean, the father was doing stuff 30 something years ago.
And so when you look at AI you’re going, okay, well, how can it help teaching? How can it help learning? And so we have in our plans that we’re going to be having a student side in early 2024, which will have a strong AI component to it. And the key thing is that you want to respect privacy and for us, we don’t process personal data.
So we don’t want to do that. So it’ll have to be we’re working around how we’re going to achieve what we want in that respect. Unless organizations still benefit from it. And if you look at AI in general,
Microsoft have embedded AI in what 40 odd products in the last seven or eight months, but they had been doing beforehand, but they’ve been increasing it. And I think that’s key that you’ll just see it everywhere as part of if you want to have a forum suddenly having sentiment analysis builds in there would make sense.
I do think that AI is going to accelerate the challenge around is an essay the best way to assess something. Sure.
And if you think about it, if you go back and there was a presentation at the conference, which I was at last week, where they were talking about different modes of grading and you go back 400 years degrading ABCD and stuff was different. And even the type of exams were different. And often what we now have as the doctorate defense, that’s basically questioning by people and having to present the summary of your knowledge together.
That was the way that things were done rather than a written essay or exam. And I think we’re going to need to look at that because having someone in front of you standing sitting on a zoom call whatever it might be is going to be something that you can then question them in real time.
Sure. And again as long as they have prepared the information because again to be inclusive you’re not trying to put someone on the spot but you are trying to check that they actually have that knowledge.
So I do think AI is going to challenge how people assess and make that better but also it’s going to help them better.
You’ve got products around now where you give them a full PowerPoint, it will create a set of quiz questions for you. And those kind of things are just going to make teachers’ lives easier as long as they then validate questions which should be part of the process if you’re going to be doing a quiz.
But also as a student they’ll be able to take PowerPoint and document and say hey give me some revision questions for this so they don’t do it themselves.
And so the positives for AI is really good and so for around accessibility for us we need to identify which ways we’re going to interact with that because I think that’s key.
Excellent. But we do have some plans specifically in place for that and we’re looking forward to working on it. But it isn’t all there at the moment.
You hear from Bard and here from ChatGPT and all of these even with their vast knowledge bases and their vast harvesting of data that never belongs to them in the first place all that web content and blog posts and all of that even with that the information they give back isn’t always accurate. Right.
So how big do you have to go to make it accurate? I do think that if you want to sacrifice everybody’s IP to create this one world like an AI chat engine or big model based on that data it has to be something that’s in public ownership.
I don’t think you can have I think it’s not a little bit scary that people can create a painting in the style of somebody or other.
100% 100% I mean the questions around originality and original content and authentic content and those kinds of things. I think these are extremely fascinating pieces and again that’s what we’ve been talking about over at the summit as well.
I think that’s just a core challenge in critical thinking skills original content in data bias and data all of those things like we’re one of the great discoveries in this short what’s it been the 10 months since the explosion of JetGBD on the scene just the focus on oh hey that pile of data that we had we’re learning how crappy it is you know what I mean? Like that’s how I think that’s one of the most interesting outcomes to the conversation right now is that we’re
really understanding how poorly we had either collected data or stored data or were consistent with data or you know like there’s so many different questions around it that these models are trained on or where they get their ability to respond from that’s that I think that’s yeah there’s lots of interesting questions.
I do think the student support side of things is going to is going to change I think that is where it’s going to be great and but that is where you want to make sure you protect learners. Their privacy you don’t want to have the challenges around for example the advertising systems out there where they have real time bidding on profiles even in a just a TV show I was looking at earlier someone had mentioned the word coffee in front of one of these like Amazon like devices and
suddenly getting coffee ads everywhere that person goes on their phone and whatever else. You certainly don’t want the same kind of things if the student is studying about a certain health issue that they’re getting.
They’re profiles tagged with that health issue and when they’re using chat system or sorry AI systems and that they’re creating content with it if that is there needs to be a privacy layer there to protect them I think.
So what I think is what I think is really important is learners or teachers individually having accounts with all these platforms because often you’ll see that the privacy controls and also the data ownership controls for private accounts versus business organizational accounts are different and that’s one of the things I’ve noticed. If you notice it yourself you’ll find or if you have a look at that Yeah, that’s a new one to be raised over here.
I want to There was one other thing. I think the AI will help organizations tackle a big one around student engagement and support for accessibility. It’s actually what I was talking about today with my clients as well that if a student hasn’t declared they have a disability if a student needs a certain kind of content in a certain way it shouldn’t be something that they have to declare the system can go hey you know what you’re always using mp3
on this course would you like us to convert all of this content into mp3 or whatever it might be it’s having that level of an automated intelligence support I think is going to be key and organizations can engage with students and provide that information but if people don’t know it’s there someone I know earlier who had the sex year growing up and they didn’t regard themselves as having a disability. They wouldn’t have gone looking for the tools that are around now
to help them so there needs to be something that is interacting with them in a different way without them having to a know that they need that help or that helps available because it shouldn’t all be on the student it should just work without reminding people or without understanding it fantastic Gavin this has been a wonderful hour of accessibility talking for those who are for anyone who wants to talk to you more or wants to engage with you or
Brickfield what’s the best way for them to reach out to you well they can just email me at gavin at brickfields.ie or just reach out on our website and contact us that way or on LinkedIn any work or find me at a conference I’m going to a lot of the Moodle Moodle I’ve been at 7 conferences and I’ve been at 3 months the next one I think is thinking of heading over to ALT C in the UK or maybe Global Moodle at the end of the year or towards the end of the year
online, edgaker, Berlin, OEB it’s always a great conference to go to and Berlin is just a wonderful city yeah absolutely on that note I hope that many people will reach out to you thank you so much for taking time out of your evening to speak with us today and I wish you all the best thank you very much sir have a good day you too thank you again for listening to the either in podcast here from OpenLMS I just wanted to ask one more time
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