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Lab Answers Essential to Some Learners


There are two things that would be nice in a future version of these courses - answers to labs, and a WCAG 2.0 adherence to colors and contrast. It's not about intelligence, it's about making things as inclusive as possible.

For those of us who are not neurotypical, having questions without answers is a special kind of torture. I first encountered this in LFS201 Lab 4.1. Having an open ended question like "can you figure this out" without a provided answer (not hints - I don't get hints, ever) so you know if you are correct is really a problem. For me, I have two relevant issues. First, my brain will always default to the first thing I learned about a topic in the future, regardless of whether I have l tried to correct that learning. So, without a known answer to a problem, an inadvertently-learned wrong answer will have to be reprocessed and corrected every single time it comes up. Forever. It's not fun. Next, when I encounter something like this, I look at the answer and work my way back to understanding why it's correct. I spent 3 hours trying to find definitive answer to the signal 18 question, reading and re-reading the signal 7 man page, course forums and the course text before finally giving up. I assume it's important or it wouldn't have been asked.

Next, I can't see as well as I'd like. The gray text on a cream background may look cool, but it makes reading and navigating this course very time consuming and difficult. If you are going to serve up a palette, making it WCAG 2.0 compliant is a simple matter that will help your students who aren't physically "perfect".

BTW, the "nobody else has complained" answer isn't accurate. Many people would like to complain, but give up trying to get people to understand why these things are important.

Thanks for your time and consideration.


  • fcioanca
    fcioanca Posts: 1,935

    Hi @boucains

    Thank you for your detailed feedback. Regarding WCAG 2.0 compliance, the platform and course are compliant. We do have numerous visually impaired students taking our courses successfully. Because it is html-based, we have had, for example, students changing their screen settings to display a black background with white text. Or using screen readers. We do take feedback seriously and we will look more into what can be done to improve learning experience.

    Thank you again for your feedback.



  • coop
    coop Posts: 915

    LFS201 has close to 100 labs and all have posted solutions except for those which are "do with me, step by step" procedurals. True there are a handful of questions in text that require the student to do some thinking and perhaps research, and many have more than one possibly correct answer. It is highly unlikely we will eliminate those or supply immediate answers to shortcut the process of thought.

    The reason some students have had trouble with the signals lab, in my opinion, is it involves C code and they are not programmers and thus find it difficult to read the code which is pretty clear about what is happening. Plus the whole concept of "blocking signals" or writing substitute handlers is kind of a developer's discussion and most people taking this course are not C programmers. I am sorry you have failed to understand this lab, but it should not have bottlenecked you from continuing as the knowledge is not essential to any thing else in the course. The solution of removing it would adversely affect the many students who have learned and understood the lab, and there are in fact changes to the lab code supplied by a student which are now incorporated and they have been given credit for.

  • boucains

    Thanks to both fcioana and coop!

    First, WCAG. With your assertion, fcioana, that the site is compliant, I ran it through a checker and to my surprise it is. Since my screen definitely isn't compliant (my degree is in web design), I dug deeper and found the laptop I use exclusively for this training has a bad screen. If I tilt the laptop far enough (but too far to use, sadly), all of a sudden the text gets dark black and easily readable. So, thank you for taking the time to reply and help me find this issue.

    Next, Coop, I took my first C++ class in what...1988? I can read the code, and that isn't the problem. It's very difficult to explain - if you are neurotypical, and not open to the fact that not everyone is, assertions like mine don't make sense, just as things that are obvious to you may not make sense to me. It's disheartening to take the time to explain and have someone tell you that nothing you said is valid. Your "shortcutting the thinking process" comment is typical. Trust me, I am not trying to shortcut anything, thus the 3 hours trying to understand and answer the "can you figure out" question with no answer. The solution is to have what you claim exists - answers to ALL of the questions in the labs. That should be standard in all remote learning courses with no instructor. If you are the type of person that skips to work and uses the easy path of simply looking at the answers first, you'll pay later by wasting the money you spent on the course and failing exams. If, like me, you want to understand the material, you'll do the work by backtracking from the answer and figuring out where the problem in understanding exists. That allowed me to do things like be a submarine nuclear reactor operator, help design parts of the FA-18, and run global networks of computers critical to business operations, and get all of the computer certs I've had over the years. I just have to work harder to learn the material. One day, I hope that inclusion practices will extend to my issues, but it probably won't before I retire.

    Once again, thanks to both of you for taking the time to respond!


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