Strategies for digital inclusion-towards a pedagogy for embracing student diversity with online learning
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Journal: Proceedings of the European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL
This paper presents an early stage PhD research study that aims to develop a conceptual framework for effective learning approaches that influence digital inclusion and exclusion of diverse students. The study will move away from the traditional definitions of diversity and explore the different characteristics of diverse learners in a modern-day setting using up-to-date technology. It will attempt to highlight factors that affect the experiences of online students and to offer practical guidelines for educators who are concerned with technology enhanced learning spaces in Higher Education (HE), and extends to adult education, training providers and further education. The findings could also impact on and benefit diverse learners by proposing strategies that facilitate individualised, needs tailored learning, particularly on blended learning programmes. A mixed methods study will evolve through two distinct phases: Phase 1 will draw on narratives using semi-structured interviews and a full review of the literature, publications and journal articles. This will serve not only to explore the many characteristics of diverse students but also investigate current and emerging pedagogies in the field of educational research; Phase 2 will build on the findings from Phase 1. The findings will be restructured to generate a conceptual framework. A full evaluation will take place to test the reliability and validity of the framework with other diverse student groups and teachers by administering an online questionnaire survey. The focus of this paper is to outline the background, current literature, objectives and methodology of the research and to discuss the next steps. At the time of writing, a Pilot Study has been completed and the primary research is at the early stages of data collection. The Pilot Study resulted in a need to re-word and re-order the interview questions to gain richer data from the sample which is now being implemented in the interview process. It is anticipated that Phase 1 analysis will be completed by October 2013.