+ Guidelines for Building Effective Web Sites for LD College Courses

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Geoffrey Burgess and Peg Alden have written an article, “Guidelines for Effective Course Websites for Post-Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities.”

It appears in the Winter 2007 issue of “Learning Disabilites: the Journal of the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA).

Over a lengthy period of trial and disappointment, Burgess was able to develop some principles for the design of Web sites which would work for learning disabled, post-secondary students. 

Burgess, the primary author, has a Masters Degree in Teaching with Technology, which included a capstone project that compared the accessibility of different models of course websites.  He conducted website usability tests with students with learning disabilities.

The authors offer a set of ten guidelines for effective course websites, based on Burgess’s inquiries and experimentations over a three year period. 

The project was supported by Landmark College, which exclusively serves students with learning disabilities and attention disorders.


1.     Adopt a site design that clearly delineates and integrates course objectives, methodology and content.

2.    Create effective navigation systems and orientation elements.

3.    Keep writing brief and direct.

4.    Ensure the Web site is accessible (Section 508 compliant).

5.     Realize technology has both time-saving and time-compounding aspects.

6.     Demonstrate the connection between computer use and course assessment.

7.     Provide direct instruction, modeling and clear expectations of the class’s online component.

8.     Find ways for students to build connections to and through the Web site.

9.     Keep the Web materials current while predictably maintaining the Web site.

10.    Introduce students to the advantages of a customizable medium.

Creating effective course Web sites for college students with learning disabilities is not about providing simplistic or dumbed down resources.  It is a matter of designing coherent, integrated and inspiring sites that add true value to the learning experience. 

Students with learning disabilities who are likely to be taxed by the challenges of higher education already do not need the burden of learning and attempting to use an unfamiliar medium — unless that medium has something to offer them.

The authors offer these guidelines as an attempt to reduce the margin of error for those instructors who hope to provide an engaging, reinforcing and above all educational on-line experience for LD students.

source: article by Geoffrey Burgess and Peg Alden in the LDA Journal “Learning Disabilities,” Volume 14, No.4.  For much more detail read the complete article.   Visit www.ldaamerica.org.  

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021  or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com


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