STEM Eduction

Existing research shows there is a tangible cost when a programmer is interrupted as the programmer must recover the context of his work and refocus on the task at hand. However, computer science students are rarely taught about interruptions and how to manage them. Instead, instruction tends to focus only on technical concepts. In addition, there is little research on interruptions with respect to computer science students. Therefore, our research examined what happens when computer science students are taught about interruptions and how to cope with them.
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In today’s educational environment, lectures are often accompanied by slide shows, which display supplementary texts, related images, graphs, and diagrams to support understanding of the material. While presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote include tools to make presentation slides more accessible to screen readers, they are rarely used. Our analysis of over 12,000 university-level course slides available online showed that only 1.67% of the images contained in the slides provided alternative textual descriptions. More shocking is that the majority of alternative descriptions were simply the image filename (e.g. Figure1.jpg). Only 8 of the 8689 images we sampled contained a useful alternative description. To address these issues, we developed PowerReader, a tactile and audio system that takes advantage of crowdsourcing to make PowerPoint slides accessible to the vision impaired.
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