There are a vast number of resources and tech tools now to support learning, but what about the learning environment itself? Student-centered learning doesn’t subscribe to a cookie-cutter approach, but rather focuses on the different aspects of student experience, a notable challenge, especially in the age of online learning. This year, speakers Clarissa Anderson, Wendi Lacobello, and Aleithia Stephens of ODL highlighted the importance of intentional formatting for online learning in three areas: usability, readability, and accessibility. An instructor may be able to make riveting content, interactive games, etc., but how effective can these methods be without ensuring the perspective of the student and the way they absorb the information? The ODL encourages SMART goals for education:

Multi-color banner for the SMART acronym. 
S: Specific
M: Measurable
A: Attainable
R: Relevant
T: Time-bound

These aspects not only take the student into consideration, but also develop a more efficient and inclusive learning environment. Whether it is online or in a traditional classroom, applying these goals will help instructors to create content that focuses on succinct and impactful instruction. Some key points to remember when considering presentation content for students are device compatibility and organization of information. For example, rather than just providing students with a powerpoint full of text, accompanying content with an icon or heading helps to group the information into a more organized and digestible presentation. Further, providing clear links for videos and websites mitigates accessibility issues by providing streamlined content for students that is much easier to navigate.

Graphic encouraging people to make hyperlinks that are descriptive, meaningful, concise, unique, and context independent.

Across the board, this year’s Academic Tech Expo provided illuminating approaches towards implementing and maintaining effective technological solutions within the classroom and beyond. Moreover, it gave participants a chance to engage about real issues experienced by both educators and students. Discovering resources and considering how to apply them within education are just a couple of the cogent topics presented. I highly encourage those interested in exploring the different avenues of technology and education through the available conference recordings located on the  Academic Text Expo website.