Founded in 1899, Los Angeles Pacific University (LAPU) is a faith-based online institution that offers multiple degree courses, such as associate, bachelor’s, and master’s, including an MBA, pre-nursing, and teacher credential program to adult learners. Their courses are designed for online learning to accommodate the schedules of busy adults and nontraditional learners who prefer to work while studying.
The main goal was to make sure that all students, regardless of their abilities, could easily access their courses. When students encountered issues in accessing the course material, such as the absence of subtitles in their native language or the lack of text-to-speech content, they were more likely to drop out of the course. This was because it made learning difficult and decreased their engagement with the course.
LAPU aimed to create an accessible and engaging learning experience for all learners, regardless of their ability, location, time, or mode of learning.
The challenge: Inaccessible courses resulted in lesser engagement and higher dropout rates
A UNESCO report revealed that over 1 billion students were able to access online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, due to the inaccessibility of digital resources, at least 31% of school students worldwide and 72% of the economically challenged ones were unable to access it. The pandemic also had a significant impact on students with physical impairments and other disabilities. Also, educators, trainers, and teachers were not prepared for the sudden shift to online education and had to adapt to the new teaching environment quickly.
LAPU made it a priority to offer equal opportunities for learning to all adult learners. They faced the challenge of not only integrating text-to-speech (TTS) features into their online courses but also making it a primary factor of all digital content. To meet these challenges, the university made a strategic decision to place accessibility at the centre of its institutional mission.
The solution: Improved engagement by providing full accessibility to remove all learning barriers
LAPU made a commitment to make all courses completely accessible to learners with visual or learning impairments as well as to those who prefer auditory learning as their mode of education. To achieve this goal, they collaborated with Moodle Certified Integration Partner ReadSpeaker. Together, they embedded ReadSpeaker’s TTS tools at the learning management system (LMS) level, guaranteeing that natural voices and accessibility tools are available at every level of a learner’s engagement in learning.
Educators and course designers no longer needed to spend additional time to make all courses fully accessible. The tool was directly embedded into their Moodle platforms. All they had to do was upload the courses in digital format on Moodle and follow some simple best practices for tagging content.
The project included adding a feature to the main course page, allowing students to listen to the course using ReadSpeaker. When enabling this functionality, they were able to hear the text in a natural-sounding voice with the emotions of a human speaker. The software allowed selection from a variety of voices, speeding up or slowing down the reading pace, and downloading the file to listen to it in an offline environment.
The result: A higher engagement among students led to greater learner success
LAPU and ReadSpeaker’s collaborative effort to enhance course accessibility achieved remarkable results. The implementation of text-to-speech functionality significantly improved engagement for learners with disabilities and for those who preferred a text-based approach. This direct intervention resulted in a notable reduction in dropout rates, showcasing how integrating voice capabilities into study tools and curriculums can cater to different types of learning preferences. Beyond the accessibility concerns, LAPU and ReadSpeaker nurtured an engaging learning environment that contributed to the learner’s overall success.
Find out more about Moodle Certified Integration Partner, ReadSpeaker.