I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a curriculum or instructional content, read it over, and thought to myself “What does this have to do with the kids I’m teaching?” A huge issue in today’s American education system is standardization. Education reform has called for the standardizing of tests, standardizing of student capabilities, standardizing of instructional practices….you get the picture. All students are given a benchmark they must meet. For some this benchmark is too high, for some it is too low. Yet our current education system does not often take into consideration differences in learners. We can help remedy this as instructional designers.
Engagement is easier when your instruction is relevant to who you’re teaching; more specifically: culturally relevant. Culturally responsive (or relevant) teaching has been described as “a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes” (Ladson-Billings, 1994, p. 382). So what does this mean for us as instructional designers? Well, we need to tap into the demographics of our learners to create content that is attainable and beneficial.
As we remain mindful of culturally responsive instruction, we need to remain cognizant of what our learners may be facing:
- Digital literacy – Learners may not be well-versed in technology. That’s ok. Think about what learners are well-versed in, then apply this familiarity to instruction. Even with lacking digital literacy, creating familiar-feeling instruction will get you and your learners far.
- Abilities of teachers – In some areas, classroom teachers and managers maybe under-equipped to carry out support for e-learning. Instruction will need to provide additional tools and resources for learners to independently access to be successful.
- Lack of technical support – Help with hardware issues may be hard to come by. Create e-learning for basic system requirements.
- Isolation in virtual learning environments – Several of our e-learning courses will involve the learner taking control of the process, with little to no human interaction. Provide the necessary supports for them to be successful under these circumstances.
Share your thoughts on creating culturally relevant instruction, and how we can fully achieve this in the LxD industry!