The world is quickly developing into a global environment whereby, many individuals from different cultures exist in the social setting.
Instructional environments act as a very useful source of information and knowledge and are often accessed by very huge numbers of individuals and it thus becomes paramount that the type of material, pictures and languages together with symbols used in such a place be culturally sensitive and sometimes universally acceptable across other cultures.
Day to day life experiences be it education, business, sports and other social activities require that individuals do interact with others and it thus becomes necessary that individuals communicate and interact effectively using culturally acceptable means (Dick, Carey & Carey 2009).
Elastic delivery of educational resources come across to all audiences in a culturally acceptable manner, the advantage of using universally cultural parameters is that the specific learning needs of the learners is well catered for.
Designing instructions may aim to reduce any form of tension and make certain access for multicultural learners within that population, whereas at the same time captivating the local needs of all learners who intend to access the information.
According to Morris, Ross and Kemp (2001), despite the fact that many individuals refute that there exists many differences cross-culturally, the truth is that, their disagreement occurred as a result of inherent defense mechanisms that often are exhibited by human beings characterized by “us versus them” thinking.
Cultural differences present themselves in many forms such as eating habits, music, speaking and it thus becomes imperative that individuals who are faced by situations that demand them to interact with individuals who come from different backgrounds carry out the appropriate research on a wide variety of cultures and his/her own cultural values and premises with an insight of steering clear of making culturally insensitive mistakes that may be considered as otherwise offensive (Pincas 2001).
Recently as an educator and a fountain of knowledge that I consider myself to be I decided to launch my website which will serve as a source of knowledge to individuals who are in tertiary institutions and especially collages. The website is designed to appeal to those students who wish to be educators and have a desire in the field of becoming instructors.
Through this website, I have been able to interact with individuals using text and webcams. The site has allowed me to access an audience from various parts of the world and thus have been forced on several instances to respond to the emails and comments of learners who thirst for knowledge.
With many individuals being a part of my audience it has been a big challenge and passion of mine to communicate and interact with them from a universally acceptable manner that is not offensive to their numerous cultures (Morris, Ross and Kemp 2001).
Guidelines for developers with particular examples
Instructors and developers of such programs should be highly aware that it does not help if any aspects of cultural insensitivity present themselves especially when dealing with a culturally diverse audience. First of all, it is good to be patient and at all times learn and ask questions from a neutral and non biased point of view this way the instructor can learn more about his/her audience (Rogers, Graham, & Mayes 2007).
Additionally it is vitally imperative that instructors interact with their audience in a manner that is respectful to the audience, that is why it sometimes becomes very hard to crack jokes because jokes that are considered appropriate in America and Western Europe are more likely to be very awkward in the context of the Asian communities.
In fact as an instructor, I once attempted to share a knock Knock joke that ended up offending some people in my audience and brought about tension in that session. The best way for instructors to deal with individuals from diverse backgrounds is to ask on the subject of a particular interaction and ask the learners to shed light on it for you the instructor, this way it is easier to avoid inappropriate situations (Dick, Carey & Carey 2009).
Nonetheless as an instructor if you sense what that your actions are going to be culturally inappropriate it is better to steer away clear of such situations. Moreover, the most important guideline is to avoid making any generalizations.
Stereotyping can be very dangerous and this brings me to one particular example while interacting with a Chinese student I insisted that every Chinese man is good at martial arts and somehow similar to their famous actor Jackie Chan. The context of the interaction did not please the particular learner and I was put in an awkward position which I was forced to apologize (Morris, Ross and Kemp 2001).
It is thus very important that instructors be they tutors, lecturers, teachers or even bloggers be sentient of their own prejudices and put them away because they will ultimately offend their audiences and hinder the transmission of knowledge (Dick, Carey & Carey 2009).
The best thing for instructors to do is to research diversely numerous cultural groups by accustoming themselves on the various values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors and embrace them by empathizing with their audience (Morris, Ross and Kemp (2001). If an instructor does this then he/she will steer clearly from actions that offend or attack the audience’s ethnic, racial and socioeconomic background.
In summary curriculum, instructors should to aim allow both the audience and them to pay attention to culturally acceptable standards, set their assumptions aside and ask for elaboration where elaboration is needed, withhold judgment when necessary because people will not always agree with their ideas due to cultural differences, being complete and explicit while explain controversial issues starting from their background.
It is also vital to consider the other person’s responses and steer away from emotional topics that may lead to anger. Instructors are required to be aware of words with different meanings and introduce synonyms to explain concepts better (Willis 2006).
This brings me to a particular case where I was discussing with my audience on issues of sexuality, considering that it is common for citizens in the western countries to express their sexuality as compared to other cultures.
The particular member of my audience who was from Saudi Arabia was highly offended by the graphic nature of the discussion and requested to be excluded from the discussion. I later discovered that the use of the word ‘sex’ is somewhat a taboo back in their town in Saudi Arabia. In this case, I discovered that it would be best if I decided to use a more mild word to refer to sex and sexuality.
It is thus very important that instructors and individuals who interact with individuals from various cultural backgrounds to operate with a high degree of cultural sensitivity.
It is important for instructors when developing curriculum to steer away from any subject matter that may appear as disrespectful and culturally insensitive. This way, instructors will more effectively and efficiently pass through their intended messages and impart knowledge.
Dick, W., Carey, L., & Carey, J.O. (2009). The Systematic Design of Instruction (7th Ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.
Morrison, G.R., Ross, S.M., & Kemp, J.E. (2001). Task Analysis in Designing Effective Instruction. (Chapter 4, pp. 62-83), New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Pincas, A. (2001). Culture, cognition, and communication in global education. Distance Education: An International Journal, 22(1), 30-51.
Rogers, C. P., Graham, C. R., & Mayes, C. T. (2007). Cultural competence and instructional 19 designs: Exploration research into the delivery of online instruction cross-culturally. Educational Technology Research & Development, 55(2), 197-217.
Willis, J. (2006). Research-based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning. Alexandria VA: Association for Curriculum and Development.