An Inclusive Approach To Online Learning Environments:
Models And Resources

Aline Germain-RUTHERFORD
Barbara KERR

The impact of ever-increasing numbers of online courses on the demographic composition of classes has meant that the notions of diversity, multiculturality and globalization are now key aspects of curriculum planning. With the internationalization and globalization of education, and faced with rising needs for an increasingly educated and more adequately trained workforce, universities are offering more flexible programs, assisted by new educational and communications technologies. Faced with this diversity of populations and needs, many instructors are becoming aware of the importance of addressing the notions of multiculturality and interculturality in the design of online however this raises many questions. For example, how do we integrate and address this multicultural dimension in a distance education course aimed at students who live in diverse cultural environments? How do the challenges of intercultural communication in an online environment affect online teaching and learning? What are the characteristics of an online course that is inclusive of all types of diversity, and what are the guiding principles for designing such courses? We will attempt to answer some of these questions by first exploring the concepts of culture and learning cultures. This will help us to characterize the impact on online learning of particular cultural dimensions. We will then present and discuss different online instructional design models that are culturally inclusive, and conclude with the description of a mediated instructional training module on the management of the cultural dimension of online teaching and learning. This module is mainly addressed to teachers and designers of online courses.

KEYWORDS: Online Learning, Globalisation, Cross-cultural, Diversity, Instructional design