Moodlepreneur Monday: Diversity Is An Old Educator’s Problem (Updated)

Moodlepreneur Monday Diversity Is An Old Educator’s Problem

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Updated on February 4, 2020.

For the old powers of education, including those in the now decades-old EdTech, a sobering aspect of learning today is the endless discovery of diversity:

People are just too varied!

Some want to learn all at once, others are more fond of a slow drip. Some want the most engaging experience possible and demand technology to deliver; others view learning as an opportunity for introspection, an almost meditative experience where technology should get out of the way as much as possible. Teams, which for some are quintessential, strike others as a design weakness; the reasonable sweet spot is somewhere in between, of course, but the middle ground will never be the same one to all. Some want to be demonstrably on top of what everyone else knows, while others’ only concern is their own personal journeys.

How did educators ever dealt with such complexities? Long history short, we didn’t.

Even when we think we did, our hearts just weren’t in the right place. For large swaths of learners, we haven’t even begun. But as learners increasingly join us, often from places of higher empowerment, dismissing individual choices is no longer a safe assumption.

Most efforts in inclusiveness feel doomed from they start. They are not

Not all deep-rooted institutions remain tied to their old beliefs, of course. Every now and then you will find a story about a college or school district who realized that, at least sometimes, compliance must take a back seat to personalization in today’s world. But experiences where students are put front and center, let alone be invited as co-creators of learning interventions, are still exceptional. (If not just outrageous.)

If not thoroughly understood, there is an indisputable link between Language, Power and Pedagogy (PDF). So the first thing a digital educator will find well to do is to review some definitions and learner distinctions, many of them from iffy origins. “Nontraditional.” “Adult.” “First generation.” Even the idea of “Distance Education” itself may be still with us only for technical reasons.

What message is your LMS sending?

Elements of this debate have taken place for long, and will continue to, mostly under the scopes of “personalized” and “student-centered learning.” It helps to view them not anymore as fringey or decadent, but as strategic imperatives in a learning organization’s quest to grab a piece of the new, digital-born pie.

As long-standing organizations struggle with bringing people in, entrepreneurs have the opportunity and tools to get out there, bringing solutions, learning and empowerment to people in their own worlds, in a language they understand, to create a future that compels them. Of course, the first step is always making sure students have all the prerequisite conditions and needs satisfied.

If there is one word to keep in mind, it would be agency. To wit, going back to Power, Language and Pedagogy: Instead of telling learners right from wrong from the start, the focus of learning should shift towards embracing points of view, discovery, and the construction of critical thinking skills. Language can open doors, and also set barriers. In our new world, technology is an essential part of the debate.■

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