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How does a digital approach make learning more accessible?

ACCESSIBILITY: How does a digital approach make learning more accessible?

Added value:

  • Digitalization allows learners to access materials no matter where they are.
  • Materials can be distributed, organized and stored easily.
  • Digitalization allows students to decide when and where to study, which can lead to increased motivation [1], [2].
  • Digitalization offers students more scheduling flexibility, so that students who have families and full time jobs can complete courses without having to be
  • physically present at the university [3].
  • When students come from diverse backgrounds with different skill levels meet together in open learning environments, they can frequently benefit from each others’ knowledge, thus promoting co-learning in heterogeneous groups [4].
  • Learning opportunities can be opened up to many more people: (e.g. MOOCS) [1], [5], [6], [7].
  • With a digital approach, more people than before have the possibility to learn (to access learning resources and tools) [5], [7].
  • As a result of individual differences, the provision of a variety of resources in different formats and media may help students to “engage more readily in learning” [8].
  • Flexible learning solutions that fit the needs of adult learners and working life can be offered [9].
  • Digitalization may foster students’ abilities to coordinate their work.


Digitalization requires the teacher to have knowledge on digital material creation, shared platforms as well as sufficient skill to create, distribute and manage material [3].
To ensure accessibility, we also need to ensure that the chosen digital tools, learning management systems, and platforms are available to those who want to use them.
We need to ensure sufficient access points for both students and staff. Cross-platform support is also needed.
High-quality MOOCS need to be created (planning, designing, recording, creating, maintaining) and distributed (streaming, subscription and other access points) [6].
Teachers and students may not have the same perception of accessibility, i.e., whether materials (texts, applications) are accessible. [8]
Digitalization requires more responsibility from the students to coordinate their own work. Instead of having a face-to-face class at a certain time, students have more freedom and must build their own study schedule around the deadlines and other online work.
Since online course options require self-management skills which all students do not have, guidance is needed to explain what studying in an online course requires to prevent higher drop-out rates.


[1] MIT Open Learning. Value of Digital Learning [Online]. Available:

[2] K. Kumpulainen and A. Mikkola, ”Oppiminen ja koulutus digitaalisella aikakaudella,” in M. Kuuskorpi Ed. Digitaalinen oppiminen ja oppimisympäristöt. Tampere, Juvenes Print, 2015, pp. 9–45.

[3] B.S. Bell,  & J.E. Federman, “E-learning in postsecondary education,” The future of children. Vol 21(1), pp. 165-185, 2013. Available:

[4] L. Czerniewicz,, A. Deacon, M.  Glover & S. Walji . “MOOC-making and Open Educational Practices,” Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 29 (1), 81–97, 2017.

[5]  JISC (2015). Quick Guide – Getting started with accessibility and inclusion [online]. Available:

[6] L. Yuan & S. Powell (2013).  MOOCs and open education: implications for higher education [online]. Available:

[7] L. Yuan, S. MacNeill  & W. Kraan (2008), Open Educational Resources –Opportunities and challenges for higher education [online]. Available

[8] L. Price. “Lecturers’ vs students’ perceptions of the accessibility of instructional materials,” Instructional Science 35:317-341, 2007

[9] I. Laakkonen, “Doing what we teach: promoting digital literacies for professional development through personal learning environments and participation,” in J. Jalkanen, E. Jokinen and P. Taalas (Eds.), Voices of pedagogical development – Expanding, enhancing and exploring higher education language learning, Dublin, Research Publishing, 2015, pp. 171–195.