I believe it is common knowledge that providing feedback while teaching is very important. In particular, positive reinforcement consequent to successful performance is essential for increasing the likelihood a skill will be acquired (that a behavior will occur again). As it is my intention to teach basic Web skills via the Web itself, tutorials must be designed so reinforcing feedback is provided automatically.
It is my hope to approximate on a simple level the sophisticated feedback features that Dr. Janet Twyman, who is guiding me in this project, has had built into software for teaching children to read. From the beginning, she has stressed to me the importance of detecting and reinforcing the pressing of the correct key sequence. I will post the details of this effort as the three of us develop them.
Notes: This post is the fourth in a series about Teaching Web Page (Text) Enlargement. Please post a comment with any suggestions.
A new Web site, TeachParentsTech.org, was announced by Google recently. Its purpose is to teach basic computer skills to parents. See the announcement and explanation.
The site teaches exclusively via videos. Among the 50+ videos now on the site, “How to make text bigger (or smaller)”, embedded below, is included in the first group displayed on the home page. My guess is that’s because learning how to make text bigger is one of the most common skills parents (older adults for whom vision may not be ideal) request to be taught.
The video starts be reassuring the audience that the task is “super easy”. The skill is then succinctly defined. It is taught exactly how I intend to do so, in that the audience is shown how to use a two-key combination within a Web browser. There is perhaps one main difference between the video and the one I hope to produce for people with cognitive disabilities. I intend to show an image of a keyboard, focusing specifically on how to press the correct two keys, in sequence, to make a Web page (text) larger.
Many people need to enlarge Web pages to better see information. People with cognitive disabilities often require larger text sizes to better comprehend information as well.
To develop a best practice for teaching a Web page (text) enlargement skill, I will conduct in-person teaching to groups of people with cognitive disabilities. Specifically, I intend to teach people to use a keyboard with a Web browser to enlarge Web pages. Many browsers will enlarge pages in response to the pressing of two keys: the plus key and the Control key (IBM) / Command key (Mac).
Given a Web page that may contain images, but must contain text, learners will press two keys to enlarge page content.
Learners will open a novel Web page and, without instruction or prompting, enlarge its contents.
Component Skills To Be Taught
- locate the correct keys (2)
- hold-down one key for at least 3 seconds with sufficient force to be recognized by the computer
- hold down the one key and tap the other key by pressing it with sufficient force to be recognized by the computer, and immediately releasing it
Completing Sequential Steps
- follow a multi-step chain of behaviors
- identify the start- and end points of the behavior chain
- repeat the behavior chain
Learners must be able to:
- respond to textual-, auditory- and/or video-based instruction
- press keys with their fingers or with equivalent assistive-technology
- press the correct keys only
- open a Web page with Internet Explorer
Computers must be:
- attached to a monitor and a keyboard or equivalent assistive-technology
- using Internet Explorer as the default Web browser
- connected to the Internet
All people need basic skills to use the Web. A significant part of my effort to teach them to people with cognitive disabilities, via the Web itself, is to implement instructional-design techniques. This post is about my first experiment.
For people of all abilities, examples of basic Web skills are:
- opening a Web site / using Web addresses;
- navigating by clicking links and using the back button;
- performing simple searches with a search engine.
Teaching such a skill includes:
For people with cognitive disabilities, an additional basic Web skill is enlarging the text/font size of a Web site. Thus to learn how best to teach such a seemingly-simple skill, I am continuing my effort to create related instructions.
Guiding me is Janet S. Twyman, Ph.D., BCBA, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at The University of Massachusetts Medical School (Shriver Center), where I work. Dr. Twyman is an expert in instructional design.
Notes: Future blog posts will provide details on each step we take in this experiment. This post is the first in a series about Teaching Web Page (Text) Enlargement. Next up: “Teaching People How To Enlarge Web Pages: Task Definition“.