Strategies for Digital Inclusion: Towards a Pedagogy for Embracing and Sustaining Student Diversity and Engagement with Online Learning
Journal: IAFOR Journal of Education
Publisher: IAFOR (International Academic Forum)
This paper reports on the progress of a current PhD research study. The research study will evolve through four phases and eventually develop a conceptual framework for effective teaching and learning approaches that influence digital inclusion and exclusion of students from diverse backgrounds. It will also seek to identify differences in learner characteristics and how these characteristics impact on needs, experiences and engagement with technology for learning, specifically within a blended learning programme. The research will move away from traditional definitions of diversity and explore the differing characteristics of a varied learner population. The research adopts a critical realist perspective, using a qualitative multi-phase methodology that will evolve sequentially in the future. The focus of this paper is to outline the research to date. Phase 1 and Phase 2 have been completed and are reported in this paper. Findings suggest that digital exclusion cannot be predicted or dealt with by categorising students into groupings of: gender, age, ethnicity, geography, socio-economic status and educational background. Additionally, the findings indicate that digital exclusion is influenced by organisational factors, such as elements of the course content or navigation of the virtual learning environment rather than intrinsic factors such as individual technological skills.