Enhancing learning outcomes for learners with visual impairment through Makerere University E-learning environment.
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The study sought to examine the experiences of learners with visual impairment in using the Makerere University E-learning Environment in their learning process. Due to the challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, all educational institutions were closed down and no physical meetings were permitted. However, institutions of higher learning were permitted to reopen using a blended learning mode that included online learning. At Makerere University, online learning is carried out using the Makerere University E-Learning Environment (MUELE) – a Moodle based Learning Management System. This study was guided by three research questions; what are the learning needs of learners with visual impairments on MUELE? What challenges do learners with visual impairment face while using MUELE? How can MUELE be enhanced to support the e-learning needs of learners with visual impairment at Makerere University? Through the Sequential mixed methods research approach, data was collected using a questionnaire with open and closed ended questions, an Observation check list and Focus Group Discussion guide tools. Using these tools helped in giving a clear understanding of the research problem. Design Based Research design was applied right from analysis of the problem to guidance of the design of an accessibility course for learners with visual impairment on MUELE. Data was collected and the intervention improved iteratively. The findings indicate that most learners with visual impairment are struggling to adapt to online learning. Learners reported various challenges which include; lack of appropriate technology, inadequate technology skills and knowledge in the use of screen readers to navigate the learning management system, and inaccessible content. The study concludes that there is need to enhance the capacity of MUELE since it is an important tool used to measure and monitor progress of the learning outcomes at the University and more specifically for learners with visual impairment (LVIs) that attend the mainstream classes. Thus, the study recommends that MUELE should be tailored to meet the learning needs of Learners with Visual impairment (LVIs) to enable them access and use content that is accessible to all learners regardless of their status.
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