A response to Chapter 37, “Diversity and Accessibility,” in Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology
The Gulf Coast city of New Orleans, Louisiana, is often threatened by dangerous hurricanes during the time between June 1 and November 1 each year. As you may recall the city was devastated by hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Many people lost their lives because of, among other things, a seriously flawed evacuation plan. In an effort to ensure that this never happens again, city planners and public safety officials have devised an innovative and remarkable evacuation plan in the event of another catastrophic hurricane. You have been hired to develop and implement a series of public training seminars to educate the public about the evacuation plan.
- What questions would you ask in a learner analysis to ensure that you collected information regarding culture and physical/cognitive impairments?
- What strategies would you use to meet the needs of a diverse population: culturally, economically, educationally, and otherwise?
- What are the challenges in implementing strategies of the multimodal diversity model?
What questions would you ask in a learner analysis to ensure that you collected information regarding culture and physical/cognitive impairments?
“When designing instructional interventions for a cross-cultural audience, designers and design teams must identify the societal and learner cultural factors” (Tracey & Morrison, 2017, p. 155). The first question to ask in this scenario is, “What do we already know about our learners?” By anecdotal reports and by the numbers, New Orleans is a culturally diverse city. The Metro area encompasses eight Parishes—Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, St. Charles, St. James, St. John. The Metro area racial demographics are reported as 36% white, 56% black, 6% Hispanic, and 1% Asian (“Who Lives in New Orleans…,” 2017, June 30). In 2016, the U.S. Census estimated for New Orleans: 27% of the people are living in poverty, 85% of the people being a high school graduate or higher, and 10 % of the people under the age of 65 report having a disability (U.S. Census Quick Facts, 2016).
Societal cultural factors that may impact instructional interventions include generational and social heritage or traditions; the ideas values and rules for learning; the problems are solved; the interpretation of patterns, colors, or symbols; and the comprehension of ideas and behaviors. (Tracey & Morrison, 2017, p. 156)
“When considering reaching as many learners as possible, the instructional designer must be aware of the presence of different abilities and cultures, and technologies used by individuals to overcome learning barriers” (Lewis & Sullivan, 2017, 9. 309). The demographic information is relatively easy to obtain. There are some critical questions that would need to be answered in order to compete a more thorough learner analysis. For instance, what percentages of people have access to technology such as telephones, mobile devices, Internet, radio and television, and what are their preferences for media and social media? What sorts of disabilities are included in the 10% of people who are disabled, as reported by the Census Bureau? In addition, it would be helpful to know how many people residing in New Orleans are already familiar with hurricane preparedness issues. What percentages of people have their own vehicles and how many would require public transportation? What are the attitudes about hurricane evacuation? Having lived there for 20 years, I can tell you that New Orleans has its own unique culture where its varied people groups are bound tightly together, reflecting of the history and diversity of the city. To be local is everything. To call New Orleans home is to embrace a common heritage built on diversity. So, what language idiosyncrasies and attitudes are common to native New Orleanians, regardless of ethnicity or race? There are probably many more topics that would be helpful to breach, but these questions make a great start.
What strategies would you use to meet the needs of a diverse population: culturally, economically, educationally, and otherwise?
Because New Orleans is such a unique and diverse city, any instructional intervention must be engineered from a universal design standpoint: “minimizing barriers through implementing designs from the beginning that address the needs of diverse people rather than making accommodations through individual adaption later” (Lewis & Sullivan, 2017, p. 309). Local News is king in New Orleans and local media personalities, on radio and television carry a lot of weight with people from all walks of life. Radio and television spots with familiar local celebrities and with well-loved religious leaders would result in a typically diverse group of people delivering messages, and this would be very effective in promoting new plans. Working with churches in the area, local politicians, and sports figures to spread the word on social media could be very effective as well, since people tend to follow these voices (whether they agree with them or not).
What are the challenges in implementing strategies of the multimodal diversity model?
Some aspects of the multi-modal diversity model could be very helpful in engineering universal design learning, or UDL. “Universal design for learning, uses innovative technologies to address diverse learning needs” and its three basic principles are multiple means of representation, multiple means of expression, and multiple means of engagement (Lewis & Sullivan, 2017, p 313). Representing the instructional methods in multiple formats or modes (per my suggestions above) activates a cultural learning strategy. In this case, reviewing the unique culture and history of the city, varying the cultures represented in the television and radio spots would maximize cultural aspects to learning. Increased engagement could be created, again through a cultural means, by representing real-life experiences from previous hurricanes in the instructional materials. Other strategies are just common sense. For instance, cognitive strategies for the multi-modal diversity model also include creating a “logical flow of information” and the need to “avoid unnecessary clutter” (p. 313).
Unfortunately, for the most part, the multimodal diversity model falls short for a public information campaign. The model seems to be geared more toward classroom situations or traditional education and training; it includes many suggestions like “avoid timed tests,” “offer optional assignments,” “offer success rich practice,” and “avoid online, real time chat” (Lewis & Sullivan, 2017, p 313). This model could be helpful in some ways, but it seems it would be a better to borrow from this resource, carefully
Lewis, J. & Sullivan, S. (2017). Diversity and Accessibility. In Reiser & Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp. 309–315). New York, NY: Pearson.
Tracey, M.W. & Morrison, G.R. (2017). Instructional design in business and industry. In Reiser & Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp. 152–158). New York, NY: Pearson.
U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts selected: New Orleans city, Louisiana. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/neworleanscitylouisiana/INC110215
Who lives in New Orleans and metro parishes now? The Data Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.datacenterresearch.org/data-resources/who-lives-in-new-orleans-now/