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Module 9: Diversity in an Online Learning Environment

In the past, many associated diversity in education as the issue of racism and
multiculturalism. We now know that it is not limited to this small facet of diversity, but rather
the perspective or impact that the differences all learners bring to the classroom based on their
experiences, age, background, country of origin, socio-economic status, or language to name a
few. The impact of diversity in the classroom must be taken into account when designing a
learning experience, especially in the online learning environment.
In the GAVS learning system, and in Mr. Averett’s Latin 1-B classroom, one is definitely
not going to find a homogeneous group that is devoid of individual ethnic groups or diverse
learners. With that in mind, an online learning environment is the most forgiving and “blind”
system for providing educational opportunities to the learner. The Latin 1-B class has a multi-
cultural feel with many ethnicities represented in the demographics of the class. One observation
that I observed in our conference and in monitoring the classroom discussions is that many pains
have been taken in providing an environment devoid of seclusion, and one that promotes
collaboration in the classroom.
In my classroom, I have many ELL students that comprise a small minority in my school
setting. Our goal is to provide an environment for these learners to be exposed to all aspects of
the instructional day without prejudice toward their language deficiencies. I design my online
learning experience to have text read to them for understanding, and I create alternate
assignments that will insure that their weakness can be overcome with their strengths. They
receive extra time based on their learning goals, and they also receive push-in help with any
misunderstandings that they may encounter. I know that Mr. Everett designs his class
discussions to coincide with assignments that are due, and he evaluates the misunderstandings
based on the interactions that they may have with the class work. For those that do not attend the
discussions, he posts Vocaroo vocal instructions to help any student that may have difficulty
with the tasks at hand. He also finds that interaction with the parents during the semester is a
valuable resource in assisting the student. Open lines of communication makes for a better
classroom environment, and helps the student to achieve success.
One question that I had for Mr. Everett was with the middle school students that had
enrolled in the Latin 1-B class, and how their age attributed to success in the classroom. He has
found that the majority of the students that are of middle school age are highly motivated to
succeed, have strong parental support, and demonstrate exemplary grades. They are more apt to
participate in all discussions, and they also are punctual with assignments and projects that are
given. Most of these students are accelerated participants in their education, and have goals to
complete high school and attend college. Although he is willing to abbreviate assignments if
there is difficulty, or if there is no prior experience with language based on their age, he has
found this to be unwarranted. GAVS has the capability to allow students to change in the
semester their amount of weeks in the semester if grades are proving to show failure, and this
allows the student to remain enrolled, but to have the opportunity to make up projects and
assignments in a brief schedule. He said this has been used minimally in his experience with
middle school students, and he does attribute this to their drive to participate in high school level
classes for college goals.
Online learning can be the perfect foil for diversity in the classroom. Students have the
capability to avoid racism, gender identification, and other aspects of diversification through the
anonymity of the online classroom. This is not to be said for those students that may have
difficulty based on their ethnicity (language barrier), or their cultural background. It is important
to assess these aspects of the student demographics and provide appropriate tools to address any
misunderstandings, and find alternative resources for communication and for assignments.
Online learning platforms are great for this as the platform maintains communication that can be
checked repeatedly, and any discussion or feedback, either oral or written, can be revisited for
understanding. Instructors that adhere to the premise of providing all students an equitable
educational experience, regardless of the baggage a student brings to class, is one that will insure
a successful partnership for student-instructor collaboration.