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On Diversity and Inclusion in your MOOC Narrative

Open access is an essential aspect of MOOCs and in keeping with the openness, it is important to ensure inclusion and avoid bias or prejudice in our instructional narratives. This reduces the possibility of causing offence and avoids excluding a section of the learners.

How do you maintain diversity and gender neutrality, unless you are referring to a specific character?

With genders, avoid use of He/ Her/ His to indicate a general population. The simplest way to do away with the gender bias is use the plural form.

The inevitable implication then, is to balance the genders by alternating them; you’d follow a ‘His’ with a ‘Hers’ or a ‘Her’ with a ‘Him’. Wouldn’t that be rather cumbersome, though? I’d say rephrasing is a better idea!

Maintain gender, age and ethnic diversity when creating your characters for scenarios, unless you are working on a specific case or for a specific audience.

Read the following statements individually and analyse them. Do they sound inclusive enough the way they are? Or can they be tweaked to relate to learners from all walks of life?

  • When recording an instructional video, remember to look at the camera and smile from time to time. It will go a long way in establishing a connection with your learner and keeping him engaged.
  • If a new hire is coming onboard from outside the industry, don’t assume they know the lingo of the organization and the industry.
  • In their global meet, ABC Corporation honored Gita Dave, Kwang Yeon Hae and Sebastián López for their lifelong contribution to the corporation.
  • Food is one of the integral aspects of many customary practices across cultures. Can you list some such practices in your respective cultures that foster inclusion?
  • Thanksgiving, they say, is a trigger for loneliness and isolation amongst most youth.

How did you fare? We are not giving you the answers just yet, since there isn’t really any one ‘right’ way to keep your content inclusive. Go figure!

If this post has made you think, even a little, about diversity and inclusion in your MOOCs, that’s a good start. The real challenge though, lies ahead. It begins with putting this in practice right from when you start designing your MOOC.

[This blog post was written by Natasha Mujgule, Instructional Design Consultant at IIMBx]

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