Have you ever wondered how on earth would you be able to create different learning experiences for the target audience with diverse backgrounds and cultures? It’s one of the aspects of my work that takes my time a lot. I don’t know whether I would be able to convince you, but one thing is certain, you might find a few lessons you can pick from My Story.
Last week, I talked a little bit about my barracks life, and how it has conditioned me to pay attention to visually appealing elements in an event. There’s one aspect I missed out not deliberately though, it was as I was thinking about creating learning experiences for people with a diverse background that I remembered it. In barracks, you will get to fraternize with people whose culture and languages differ from yours. It’s a converging point of different languages, cultures. norms, values, perspectives, upbringings, lifestyles. I am not aware of any place of confluence of languages and culture that is so concentrated as present in barracks. Statistically, Ethnologue says, Nigeria has over 528 languages been spoken by Nigerians, and majorly, the most common ones are the regional languages which are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Edo, Efik, Fulani, Idoma, Ijaw, Kanuri. The only place I know could allow you to interact with these languages on a high level of concentration is barracks, perhaps the NYSC platform is also good, but not as concentrated as barracks. Barracks has enough representative samples of all the major languages in Nigeria.
The question is how do you relate with such people from a diverse background?
In my interaction with them, three basic things are very key:
1. Treat them as humans
2. Value the culture/languages
3. Find a point of connection
In this write-up, I am going to talk about these three aspects and how they can be adapted to solving problems of the diverse background when creating learning experiences that stick.
1. Treat them as Humans
When people from other languages or cultures start to converse in their dialect, we tend to ignore them as though they don’t exist. One way to catch the attention of people with a different cultural background is to treat them as humans. They are also humans like you. The fact that they don’t behave like you does not make them non-human. They were also created by God like you were, and treating them as humans is a two-way thing, it’s symbiotic.
2. Value the Language/Culture
One obvious element that differentiates people from other people in the language. When they speak, they are not speaking rubbish nor foolish things, the fact that you don’t understand the language does not make it foolish and rubbish. Even if you don’t understand, try to let them make you understand. Try asking questions for clarity’s sake.
3. Find A Point of connection
There will always be an element in another person’s culture and language with similar semblance to your language and culture, find that point. It’s the point of connection. Once a point of connection is identified, initiate a discussion around that area, then friendship begins.
How do we adapt these three basic concepts to helping us solve the problem of learning with our target audience?
First, we need to understand that our students/learners are like people in barracks with diverse backgrounds and contexts which have resulted in learning styles and multiple intelligences. Howard Gardener’s theory of multiple intelligences, a Harvard professor identified in 1983 eight multiple intelligences or abilities in people, speaking to these abilities or calling out these abilities requires we possibly adopt these three approaches.
How do we apply these points?
1. Let’s treat our learners/students as humans
How do you treat your users/learners/students when you stand in front of them to teach or when you push an online course before them on the internet via a Learning Management System (LMS)? Do you recognize they have emotions, problems, challenges, aspirations, hopes, goals, failures, stories, struggles, successes just like you? How about identifying with them and sharing your struggles, failures, challenges, and successes with your users/students/learners.
When you agree with them by showing empathy (Design Thinking emphasizes the concept of empathy), you are on your way of opening their minds. Start by telling them a short story that speaks majorly to your users. Put yourself in their shoes.
2. Value the language/culture
This is purely demonstrated by showing interest in the language your users speak. How do you identify the major language that your users speak? It’s by giving an opportunity to speak, discuss, play games together, and build a community of practice where everyone’s opinion is valued and appreciated. Conduct interviews with them, give them options to choose from. When you do these things and more, you would get to know their languages, and thereafter pick interest in speaking their languages. Are you interested in what your users do?
3. Find A point of Connection
This is the last point in understanding our users/students/learners. Your job as a learning specialist is to find that cord that connects you with your users. I remember a quote from Williams Arthur Warde: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires”
What inspires your users is when you can find the exact point that connects you with your users. Find the point of agreement, then start the discussion from that point. In this 21st century, the need for constant searching for the point of resonance has become so essential, that missing it would mean missing an opportunity to connect with our users.
For an e-learning course, the problem is a little bit compounded, because we don’t get to see our users always. Our users could come from any part of the world, but one thing is certain, we can always create an opportunity to get their feedback and be ready to adjust when it’s apparent that we are not connecting with them.
It’s Possible to learn once and remember always
I hope you enjoyed my story.
See you again another time.