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EdTech sandbox pilot of Blackboard Ally accessibility software

BCcampus is looking for institutions interested in participating in collaboratively testing and evaluating the accessibility application Blackboard Ally.

Blackboard Ally logoWhat is Ally?

Blackboard Ally is an accessibility application that works with your existing Learning Management System (Blackboard, Canvas, and Moodle) to help ensure that your digital course content is accessible by learners. Ally provides your LMS content in accessible formats, including electronic braille and audio files. Ally also provides instructor feedback and guidance on creating accessible learning content as they create course content. Finally, Ally provides institutional reporting that allows institutions to audit the content within their LMS for accessibility issues.

To find out more about Ally, visit the Ally website, or view the archive of the BCcampus EdTech Demo from November, 2017.

Background

In November of 2017, BCcampus hosted an EdTech Demo of Blackboard Ally, an accessibility platform designed to assist institutions in the development and maintenance of accessible learning content (see EdTech Demo: Blackboard for an archived webcast of the demo).

Following the EdTech Demo, both BCcampus and Ally were approached by BC institutions expressing interest in exploring the software more closely.

Since then, BCcampus and Blackboard have been in discussions around the possibilities of hosting a short-term EdTech Sandbox Pilot of Blackboard Ally to collaboratively evaluate the application.

We are now at the stage where we would like to invite interested institutions to an information webinar to ascertain whether there is interest among institutions in participating in a collaborative evaluation of the software.

An overview of the sandbox pilot project

A BCcampus sandbox pilot project is a short term collaborative project designed to evaluate a specific educational technology. For this project, BCcampus and Blackboard Ally would like to partner with institutions to test and evaluate the Ally software.

  • We are looking for 3 institutions to participate in the testing of the application.
  • We are hoping to evaluate the application with multiple LMS’s. Currently, Ally works with Moodle, Blackboard, and Canvas. (D2L Brightspace integration is currently in the works and we will have an update on the integration by the webinar.)
  • Time frame of the sandbox/pilot is 6-9 months. Of this the Ally product will be licensed to your institution for 3 months to test with the remainder of the time used in coordinating the installation of the software at the institution, and the writing of an evaluation report after the testing.
  • Our estimated time-lines for this project is to run from May to November, 2018 with the Ally license effective from June-August 2018.
  • It is our hope to evaluate this software in a production environment to be able to fully evaluate the effectiveness of the institutional reporting system within Ally. Alternatively, a staging environment that closely mirrors a production environment is possible.
  • BCcampus has secured $25,000 in funding to cover the cost of licensing Blackboard Ally for 3 months, as well as cover training & support for the duration of the sandbox pilot.

Upcoming webinar for more information

If your institution may be interested in testing this application with other institutions from around BC, please register to attend the upcoming informational webinar on Tuesday, March 27th, 2018 2-3pm (Pacific). Attending the webinar does not commit your institution to participating in the sandbox pilot. It is an informational webinar. The webinar will also be recorded for those who cannot attend.

Who should attend this webinar?

Ally integrates with learning management systems, so we recommend that people who are responsible for the administration of your LMS be in attendance. Additionally, Ally is an accessibility product and if you have an accessibility office a representative of that office should attend. Representatives of both areas in your institution have been copied on this email. However, if you think there are others at your institution whom this invitation would be more appropriate for, please feel free to forward this information to them.

Note that this is not a demonstration of Ally. The intent of this meeting is to ascertain interest among institutions to run a collaborative short-term evaluation of the application

For more information

This project is being coordinated by Clint Lalonde, Manager of Education Technology and Development. You can email Clint at clint@bccampus.ca for more information.

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