Every day, 1 million new people around the world come online, embracing the internet and social media — that means 1 million more potential viewers, readers, and learners.
Technology has connected us and enabled more people from more places to learn together, but it hasn’t ensured the success of these online learning experiences. So, how can we as online designers ensure a rewarding learning experience when diverse people and groups learn together across geographical and cultural distances? Some advocate for carefully examining how we capitalize on the diversity within our learning environments. While diversity brings in different ways of seeing the world and different languages through which thoughts are expressed, it does not guarantee that these diverse views will be heard, appreciated, and valued. Diversity alone cannot build a rewarding learning experience.
Designing learning environments with cultural inclusivity in mind, by accounting for different values, beliefs, worldviews, and educational experiences, helps all learners feel valued, accepted, and respected, contributing to their growth. Inclusion fosters a sense of belonging to a community—feeling appreciated for one’s unique characteristics, perspectives, contributions, and ways of thinking. In inclusive learning environments, participants are encouraged to interact and negotiate meaning with one another. Participants therefore feel comfortable sharing their ideas, their identities, cultures, languages, and ways of seeing the world.
In today’s increasingly complex and interconnected world, we need people with diverse world views to work together to solve our most challenging multifaceted problems. We believe that designing effective learning for global audiences requires cultural inclusivity. Designers’, instructors’, and learners’ cultural influences must be embraced, and how these values and beliefs might impact the learning that unfolds must be anticipated.