The Technical University Dortmund is designing an e-learning programme for young people that works equally well for apprentices with disabilities. The plan will bring e-learning to apprentices with visual, cognitive, motor and auditory disabilities and others in vocational training in the transport and warehousing sectors of German industry. Barrier-free training will comply with German and international laws and standards. Björn Fisseler, TU Dortmund’s project coordinator for ELoQ – the E-Learning-based Logistics Qualification, will explain at OEB how the team are handling this challenging project.
Today’s learning landscape provides more options than ever – and more challenges. A lot of learning takes place in inBjörn Fisseler explains e-learning promises great advantages for people with disabilities: “Most regular approaches such as textbooks are inflexible. Someone with a print disability might find the font size too small, or the contrast too low. But in a digital programme you just enlarge the font size or change the contrast, or you make the programme read out the text aloud. Those with learning difficulties can be offered additional visualisations of the content or illustrations.”
The EloQ project is developing vocational “e-education” in the logistics and warehousing sector that will cater for all adolescents, with and without handicaps or disabilities. It started in January 2010 and is funded by the European Social Fund and the German Federal Ministry of Edcuation and Research.
The apprentices will gain a qualification in storage logistics, covering fixing goods transport, working in a goods inward department, warehousing, picking and packaging.
Although vocational training in Germany takes place in both vocational schools and industrial firms, apprentices with disabilities are often trained in separate vocational units rather than in the regular system. E-learning for people with disabilities usually matches the needs of single groups.
Before the team in Dortmund can start developing the actual content, extensive preparation is needed. The employment structures, characteristic job-tasks and work-processes of the German storage logistics sector have been analysed with a view to revising current training curricula in this sector.
Learning Management Systems (LMS) and tools for content creation have been evaluated for their universal accessibility. The technical infrastructure is currently being developed.
“This is complicated. Even the best tools will need modifying to meet all the accessibility requirements,” says Björn Fisseler.
The next step is content development, which will need the production of learning materials, teaching aids and educational scenarios for 60 to 90 hours of study. The programme will include text, audio, video elements and interactive exercises.
The teaching concept for this extremely heterogeneous group of apprentices is very ambitious.
But Björn Fisseler, who studied rehabilitation sciences and taught in various special schools in his early career, says, “Our aim is to provide a universal design for learning, on top of universal accessibility. This concept rejects the one-size-fits-all approach where all students use the same material and take part in the same learning activities. Learners have different skills, different backgrounds and different learning styles and preferences, whether they are disabled or not. All this has to be considered.”
At OEB, Björn Fisseler will present ELoQ – Integrating Universal Accessible E-Learning in Vocational Education of Adolescents with Disabilities as part of the session At Risk in the Labour Market which takes place on Friday, December 3rd, from 11:45 – 13:15.