A qualitative study to understand the perspectives of MOOC providers on accessibility

Keywords: accessibility, MOOC, MOOC provider, disability, qualitative research, interview, thematic analysis

Abstract

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are widely available and have become a common option for learners. However, their full potential cannot be realised if they are not accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities. It is, therefore, important to understand the different stakeholders and their requirements and perspectives in designing accessible MOOCs. This research investigated the perspectives of MOOC providers on MOOC learners who have accessibility needs and the processes used to manage accessibility and MOOCs in their individual organisations. In this paper, we report the results of a study using thematic analysis, which involved 26 semi-structured interviews with MOOC providers and focused on MOOC accessibility. The results show that, while MOOC providers are aware of learners with accessibility needs who are participating in MOOCs, they prioritise legislation over learners’ accessibility preferences. MOOC providers consider the technology of the platform itself creates barriers and are aware of the limitations for learners in finding help, reporting accessibility barriers and obtaining feedback, when participating in MOOCs.

Implications for policy and practice:

  • Course providers should acknowledge MOOC design is being guided by legal requirements. That involves uncertainty to who is the responsible to deliver accessible MOOCs.
  • Platform providers need to consider the lack of information about their learners makes it difficult to design educational resources that consider different target groups and provide personalisation.
  • Learners can find MOOCs helpful for continuing professional development and lifelong learning. MOOCs are attractive due to their low-cost and self-regulated learning.

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Published
2021-09-20
How to Cite
Iniesto, F., McAndrew, P., Minocha, S., & Coughlan, T. (2021). A qualitative study to understand the perspectives of MOOC providers on accessibility. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 87-101. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.6610
Section
Articles