Andragogical Design Considerations for Online Multicultural Education

Andragogical Design Considerations for Online Multicultural Education

Farah L. Vallera (Lehigh University, USA) and Matthew D. Lewis (Lehigh University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8286-1.ch018

Abstract

Online education is expanding in higher education as a means of cost-effective, accessible, convenient, and flexible environments for learning. Such environments are popular amongst the growing population of diverse adult learners. This growth mirrors the need for diversity and multicultural education to both meet students' needs and prepare them for a multicultural, globalized world. Instructional design considerations that address diverse adult online learners' needs are examined and discussed. This chapter also examines some instructional design considerations that were used to develop and implement multiculturally inclusive materials and activities tested in graduate and undergraduate level courses. Recommendations for the development of online materials geared toward diverse adult audiences are provided.
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Introduction

Higher education looks a great deal different than it did 50 years ago – or even 25 years ago. The increased diversity in educational dissemination beyond traditional face-to-face, didactic instruction, such as the increase in online, hybrid, and blended opportunities (Bonk, Lee, Kou, Xu, & Sheu, 2015; Picciano, 2017), has mirrored the increase in both diverse student populations in higher education institutions and the need for diversity and multicultural education (Banks, 2012). Online education is gaining ground in public, private, and for-profit arenas of higher education as cost effective, accessible, convenient, and flexible environments for learning (Kidd, 2010; Nguyen, 2015) and is appealing to diverse, adult audiences. Instructional design considerations that address the needs of both adult learners and diverse audiences must be examined and implemented to further develop these expanding environments. Additionally, the construction, dissemination, and study of multicultural education materials for myriad learners may help prepare students for their futures in an ever-changing and diverse world. In this chapter, we will discuss the growth of online environments and their appeal to diverse, adult learners, the increasing need for designing multiculturally inclusive materials, and some instructional design considerations that were used to develop and implement materials and activities that were tested in both graduate and undergraduate level courses.

According to Seaman, Allen, and Seaman (2018), while overall higher education enrollments are declining, distance education and online offerings have been increasing steadily over the last several years. The number of students studying on campuses is also decreasing, while the number of students studying exclusively in online environments is increasing (Seaman et al., 2018). Even in 2010, Jukes, McCain, and Crockett envisioned “a shift from textbooks, brick-and-mortar classrooms, lectures, worksheets, standardized tests, bells...to learning whenever and wherever it can best happen” (pg. 16). These changes in the diverse offerings of learning bring with them changes in audience demographics and students’ needs. However, like every other area of diversity, not all instruction is created equally.

With these changing needs, the U.S. saw a surge in for-profit higher education institutions, massive open online courses (or MOOCs), and blended options. While these flexible and accessible environments offer experiences for diverse groups of learners from all over the world, they still face criticism regarding academic rigor, motivation, community development, persistence, and completion (see Bali, 2014; Bennett & Monds, 2008; Coole & Watts, 2009; Hart, 2012; Hew & Cheung, 2014). Here, we will not focus on for-profit online education or MOOCs, rather we will turn our attention to online environments in traditional, non-profit higher education settings that serve adult populations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Diversity: The range of cultural differences in race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, identity, religion, ability/disability, socio-economic status, and other indicators of socially constructed characteristics.

Andragogy: A theory involving the methods, practices, and study of instructing adult learners, where it is assumed that adults learn differently than children.

Experiential Learning: A hands-on learning strategy where students learn authentically by doing.

Self-Directed Learning: A model that describes how individuals take responsibility and the initiative to set their own goals and strategies to meet their learning needs.

Online Learning/Education: Any virtual format of delivering instruction with the use of a computer and internet connection to access materials synchronously and/or asynchronously.

Multicultural Competence: The combination of knowledge, skills, and appropriate attitudes and beliefs about human relationships surrounding diversity and cultural awareness.

Asynchronous and Synchronous Learning: Asynchronous learning takes place anytime and anywhere without the need to meet in real-time. Synchronous learning takes place in real-time, connecting students with instructors either through videoconferencing or live chats.

Cultural Humility: A measure of exploration meant to last a lifetime involving self-assessment, reflection, and critique of other cultural interactions.

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