Diversity regards to the idea of integrating acceptance and respect. It is a concept that means understanding the uniqueness of each person and recognizing people’s differences. These differences are in the dimensions of ethnicity, sexual orientation, race, socio-economic status, physical activities, age, political and religious beliefs or other ideologies (University of Oregon, 1999). The concept also promotes the need of inclusion of these dissimilarities in a constructive and nurturing manner. In essence, diversity entails understanding, tolerating or accepting and celebrating the rich scopes of diversity within each person. The paper presents a report on diversity that explores various aspects of this concept.
In serving diverse populations, I have a philosophy of respecting diversity. Prejudices exist, but being aware of them is an important step in addressing them. This has further cemented my appreciation of the diverse individuals and groups with whom I have to deal. In reference to the five diverse learning groups, which include Secondary language, Exceptionalities in achievements, race/ethnicity, socio-economic status and gender I believe that all learners should be given a supportive environment to learn. This is irrespective of their language, achievement levels, ethnicity, socio-economic status or gender. The instructional methods must not only be theoretically responsive, but also responsive culturally.
Skills and knowledge of diversity work as tools to execute my philosophy. They put me in a position to generate an instruction process that is comprehensive, validating, empowering, multidimensional, transformative and liberating. This is to say that they accord me the chance to develop intellectual and political learning by using diverse referents to impart skills, knowledge and attitudes to the learners. It creates a chance to use the learners’ prior experiences, cultural knowledge, and styles of performance to enhance learning. A process is generated that enables the learners to be more successful to be better human beings by building self-efficacy, academic competence and initiative. It avails a platform to improve student-teacher relationships, classroom climate, curriculum content, instructional techniques, learning context, and performance assessments to suit the diversity. It is critical to valuing the cultures and experiences of different groups and using them as resources for instruction and learning. In this, all learners’ existing strengths and accomplishments are appreciated and further developed in instruction. It also presents an opportunity to make authentic knowledge on various ethnic groups accessible to learners, thus generating information, validation and pride that are both liberating intellectually and psychologically (Gay, 2000; Billings, 1994; Lipman, 1995)
Diversity analysis is an important process that would help an instructional designer or technologist understands the composition of their learners. This would help them develop strategies for implementation and evaluations that meet the demands of every learner or group of learners. Gender and diversity analysis reviews new information and studies on how gender roles and diverse groups are changing. The approach takes into account how gender and diversity interconnect with other socio-economic aspects such as education, poverty levels, language, cultural traditions, urban or rural location, among others (Richards, Peay, Brown, Forde, 2006). When used regularly and systematically, the analysis results in operational services and programs, safe and productive classrooms and improved social cohesion. Diversity analysis benefits all learners. An effective analysis of diversity would have the following questions in all stages of the process from implementation to evaluation. What are the socio-economic differences that gender and diversity groups experience? How might the identified differences affect the learners’ capacity to access programs? How do they affect program implementation? How do the prevailing differences affect the outcome of the program and how could the outcomes be enhanced by addressing the differences of gender and diversity? (WECCAALL, 2003). Analysis of diversity would expose knowledge gaps or limitations in the data collection, analysis and presentation and addressing these gaps would be an important step in applying the analysis.
Implementation of programs would be designed with the view of addressing the gaps exposed by the diversity analysis. This means that the design should bear into consideration knowledge offered by research, which would ensure the realization of the educational excellence desired for all learners. The programs would not only take into account the academic needs, but think of learners as complete persons with emotional, physical and social needs and strengths (Richards, Peay, Brown, Forde, 2006). One of the proven methods of implementing strategies includes de-tracking. This includes grouping heterogeneously of low and high achievers in all classes and accelerating learning by offering all learners the same classes. Studies highlight that all students performs better when students of all levels (high and low achievers) are given access to first-class opportunities for learning (ASCD, 2008).
For effective learning process, adoption of the subsequent strategies is essential. Initially, there is the need of maintaining high standards and establishing high expectations for all the different learners. Furthermore, the instructor should understand home cultures and comprehend their behaviour in and out of the classroom. One also needs to show the learners that he or she cares by trying to know their needs and strengths individually and sharing their hopes, concerns and dreams. Furthermore, the instructor should tap into the learners' backgrounds to improve learning. The strategy should also involve choosing culturally acceptable curriculum and materials for instruction that recognize, include and reflect the learners' heritage and the contributions of various cultural groups. Identifying and discouraging stereotypes, creating culturally compatible environments for learning and capitalizing on the learners' cultures, languages and experiences are also useful strategies (Richards, Peay, Brown, Forde, 2006). For English Second Learners, effective strategies would include establishing a bilingual classroom and embracing models for dual-language. Adopting all-inclusive approaches to language learning for learners of second language as opposed to drill and exercise are also useful. Practising English in flexible, mixed cooperative groups of learning while respecting community norms of language are other practical strategies for improving performance in a diverse class (Bloemraad, 2011).
Management of Technology and Non-Technology Based Situations
Choosing to use technology or not is a choice that can be made in consideration of the general diversity study. Instructors have to consider a number of factors which include their knowledge of students’ backgrounds and skills, class preparation, the syllabus, course content and their own classroom behaviour.
A Learning Style Inventory (LSI) should also be carried out (Shaughnessy, 1998). This would allow learners to ascertain how they would want to learn and recommends an environment which would match their learning styles. It would show the arrangement of groups in which each learner is capable of learning most successfully. It would show which learners need high structure and direction and which ones should get options as well as how each learner should study. It is also helpful in sequencing and reinforcing the perceptual strengths learners use to start learning new and tough information. It would also outline the methods through which individuals are most likely to attain. On top of these, it would show those learners that are conforming and those that are not and describe how to work with the two types, among other aspects of learning. These strategies would be used in both situations i.e. where technology is required and where it is not.
In a situation that calls for the employment of technology, an instructor would be able to choose technologies that are appropriate for his/her diverse group of learners. Technology should be incorporated into learning that is based on problem, project and inquiry. The three learning bases are learner-centred. Furthermore, they should involve real-world situations in which learners are actively involved in serious thinking activities. Incorporating technology would only be for essential in imparting the benefits associated with it. The course materials should be accessible to ensure that learners can obtain them easily and study at their preferable time and location. Furthermore, enhancing the motivation of the learners and providing more chances to expand learning is essential. Some benefits associated with these practices include a wide support of the learners and improved learner writing. It should also provide an avenue to focus on active participation of the learner and to offer differentiated questioning approaches. These are a critical body of ideas to consider for the instructor before deploying a given technology.
As much as the benefits are an important consideration for the acceptance and use of technology, there is also an equally important side of the analysis, which highlights the drawbacks of technology. Access to inadequate quantities of technology is one of the drawbacks. Others include the extra time needed for the implementation of the technology and the apprehension linked with assessing the efficiency of a technology in the classroom. Computers and cell phones enable fast access to a continual stream of sources. This may make learners want to jump from one thing to another without staying on the task, and this may have serious side effects. Poorly considered technologies have a tendency to produce poor test scores and adverse reactions from learners. These must also be considered side by side with the benefits so that the choice of technology may not impact negatively and negate the purpose for which it was deployed in the first place.
The identification and analysis of the strategy to employ would need also to involve consultations with the recipients of the information to be passed. Making use of the learners' skills, knowledge and points of view would make the process more inclusive, and the choice of the medium to use for instruction will be acceptable to all and more importantly to the learners. It will reduce wastage of resources such as time and funds put in the technologies that would result if the technologies did not meet their intended purposes.
Evaluation process has to involve multiple forms of assessments that would account for diversity. Authentic assessment should be adopted, instead of relying on a single standardized test (Richards, Peay, Brown, Forde, 2006). This would incorporate such aspects as exhibitions, products, portfolios and performance tasks. The approach should also incorporate several indicators of performance in academics and schoolwork progress throughout the year. It should take into account the input, the process and output as measured by the indicators.
It is apparent that a successful passage of knowledge from the instructor to the learner requires high knowledge of diversity. The instructor should have the knowledge of the challenges of teaching a diverse class, thus embracing multi-dimensional strategies in addressing them. The decision to employ a technology or not is as good as the process of identification and analysis that leads up to that decision. It should be inclusive and consultative for all involved including the learners. The ideas and strategies proposed in this report should be adopted for effective management of diverse classes.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) (2008).Diverse Teaching Strategies for Diverse Learners.http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/107003/chapters/Diverse-Teaching-Strategies-for-Diverse-Learners.aspx
Bloemraad, I. (2011). The Debate over Multiculturalism: Philosophy, Politics, and Policy.http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/debate-over-multiculturalism-philosophy-politics-and-policy
Richards, H. V., Peay, A., Brown, A. F., Forde, T. B. (2006). Addressing diversity in schools: culturally responsive pedagogy.(State University, Vanderbilt University and Buffalo State College).http://www.nccrest.org/Briefs/Diversity_Brief.pdf
Saunders, S. and Kardia, D.(2008) “Creating Inclusive College Classrooms.”University of Michigan Center for Research on Teaching and Learning.http://www.crlt.umich.edu/gsis/P3_1.html.
Women in Employment Committee of the Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation (WECCAALL)(2003).Gender and Diversity Analysis; Discussion Paper and Lens.http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/iws_gda_discuss.pdf