2.1 Serving diverse audiences
It is worthwhile to design digital materials and use technologies for as broad a range of learners as possible. By doing this, materials are ready to be reused in later years or different contexts. This section provides some general guidelines, so that you can consider how these considerations would be applied to your own context. Week 7 covers this area in greater detail.
Clarity is important when designing and delivering materials for a wide range of audience needs. Ensure instructions are clear, unambiguous and consistent in the use of terminology (Ernest et al., 2013). When producing audio or audio-visual materials, speak slowly and clearly, including pauses that allow learners to understand and note key sentences or phrases.
Be aware that those accessing the material may not all share the same cultural backgrounds and reference points. This means the use of idioms or cultural references in digital materials must be considered carefully (Arbour et al., 2015). Similarly, the choice of images or videos must reflect diversity fully.
Flexibility of schedule
It is vital to provide learners with a schedule of key dates and deadlines, and to ensure at regular intervals that they are aware of what is immediately ahead of them. At the same time, flexibility should be designed in where possible. If there is not a strict need for every learner to complete a certain task at the same time, then allow extra time for those who need it. Some learners may need individual attention in order to keep to the overall schedule – this is another element of personalisation (Ernest et al., 2013).
Communication and peer support
Online learners should be encouraged to comment and reflect on their learning. This may be achieved using their own spaces, such as blogs, or more public spaces, such as discussion forums. Asynchronous forums allow everyone the chance to input on their own terms and at their own pace, while discussing and commenting on each other’s posts.
These interactions, if supported and moderated appropriately, can help to foster a sense of community among learners. This can, in turn, lead to the development of peer support. Peer support is a key aspect of personalisation, as it allows learners to explore and learn as a collective, with each member of the collective playing to their own strengths.