Crossing boundaries: Curriculum and teaching implications of culturally inclusive online learning

Year: 2001

Author: McLoughlin, Catherine

Type of paper: Refereed paper

In tertiary contexts, Web-based instruction may be tailored to the needs of a particular cultural group, and recognise the specific learning needs, preferences and styles of learners. At a time when open learning markets are very competitive, many WWW sites are developed with an international audience in mind. The internationalisation of education has led to the development of two distinct types of WWW sites, (i) those made for one particular context and culture, but visited by a global audience, and (ii) those made specifically for cross-cultural participation. An investigation of these sites reveals many different learning features and instructional design paradigms. Sites aiming for cross cultural participation and seeking a bridge to multiculturalism need to take certain design features into consideration, and utilise culturally appropriate forms of instructional design (ID). A critique of current ID approaches shows that many lack the depth and scope to enable them to provide culturally inclusive learning, and it is that proposed that cultural contextualisation is important in the design of learning. At the same time, WWW sites that aim for cultural portability of courseware need to adopt cross-cultural design features that ensure access by culturally diverse learners. This paper offers a framework for culturally inclusive teaching and curriculum that can be applied to online environments. The term ‘inclusive curriculum’ as used in this paper refers to curriculum content, as well as the processes of planning for appropriate teaching, learning and assessment practices. Inclusivity in Web-based learning is concerned with facilitating the best educational outcomes for all students, regardless of characteristics such as ethnicity, language and cultural background.