International Education Part 3

Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) – some considerations

“At the core of education, training and learning lays the education philosophy of the institution, which is then embedded within the curriculum – embedded within the design of the curriculum. Once the curriculum is designed, then the teaching program can be developed, and then the individual lesson plans can be drafted. Designing the curriculum is the starting point of any effective student learning experience. The program should then effectively enable the teacher to facilitate positive and effective learning experiences”(Page 2008).
This blog is a continuation of the  International Education blog. Within that essay I attempted to present two issues. Firstly, that the current Australian tertiary education system, being a product of a euro-western, monoculturalist ideal provides a number of barriers to the effective teaching of a multicultural society that today exists in Australia. This multicultural society includes Non-Native English speakers (NNEs). Ineffective teaching, as suggested can impact the greater society in its’ realisation of macro goals. Given this, we as a society need to re-evaluate the outcomes that we desire, and to make a conscious decision as to whether the current social ideal (euro-western educational system) is to continue. The question I posed was: should we not be attempting to maximise the contribution of all members of society. It is I believe our leader’s responsibility to ensure that education for responsible citizenship – allowing all to assume their rightful, productive position within our community – so that everybody has an important place in society. The second issue that I chose to broach was how we as educational leaders could contribute once we were in a position to develop an educational system that meets the needs of contemporary Australia.
Referencing my tertiary educational institutional experience, I proposed a heuristic educational approach to be adopted. In this approach, the teacher assumes more of a facilitative role, leading the learners to their own self-development, guiding them to greater understanding as to who they are as social members and what they need to learn to become more able to contribute in the contemporary global environment.

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Technology encouraged globalisation

As raised in my first blog  in this series, technological development has been highlighted as having a direct impact on globalisation, particularly the speed with which globalisation is occurring. Globalisation, defined as “a set of conditions in which an increasing fraction of value and wealth is produced and distributed worldwide through a system of interlinking private networks”(OECD in Kelly:1998:1), and its “intensification over recent years owes much to the emergence of means of instantaneous global communication and mass transportation”(Giddens in Taylor et al:1997:55). Since the 1970’s, a world economy has become a valid economic concept (Hobsbawm in Taylor et al:1997:55). However, there are several concerns with such a phenomenon:
Firstly; the spread of the western paradigm through its’ designers and majority of users. This influences the recipient or user of the technology, irrespective of their nationality, with very little regard for the cultural needs of this recipient/learner/user (Page 1998). The western paradigm has been suggested by certain quarters as being behind all that is great in the world at present. Not the least is consumerism. In the 1998 report of the United Nation’s Development Program, the Deputy Director stated “that twenty six per cent of the world’s people account for eighty six per cent of spending for personal consumption. The wealthiest twenty per cent consume forty five per cent of meat and fish, use fifty eight per cent of total energy, own seventy four per cent of all telephone lines and eighty per cent of the world’s vehicles”( Kelly:1998:7). It is this paradigm that is being received around the world to billions of people, irrespective of their socio-economic, educational, cultural or political position. Termed the global monoculture, Norberg-Hodge (1996, 36) highlights the eagerness that so many non –Americanised cultures embrace the symbols of the western perspective – “sunglasses, walkmans, and blue jeans –not because they find those jeans more attractive or comfortable but because they are symbols of modern life”. Yet it is this modern life that comes at such a cost, according to Norberg-Hodge. The most extreme of these is “feeling ashamed of their own (traditional) culture”. Apparently so overpowering is the imagery of the west, that “millions of young people believe contemporary Western culture to be far superior to their own”, irrespective of the harsh realities such as social, psychological, environmental and economic dimensions. Accepted forms of western lifestyle promotion have been movies, pop songs, media mediums and tourism. With the growth of technology, I would suggest that the newest most influential vehicle for the transfer of these symbols is the internet.
Secondly: the degree of technological access equity. That is, the degree of exclusivity that technology brings, given that technology is only available to a specific group of global citizens – those of industrialised economically advanced nations. These nations are also the nations that have embraced the information age. “Technological access allows its’ recipients, its’ learners and its users to become part of the information –based world economy, interacting with the latest information” (Page 1998).  The industrialised economically advanced nations are also the nations that have embraced the information age. Therefore, providing that one doesn’t come from a low socio- economic area of these nations, one is said to have reasonable access potential (OECD in Kelly:1998:2). In contrast, third world nation citizens are said to not have reasonable access potential. Whilst this lack of access may limit the speed and breadth of the spread of the western paradigm, inequitable distribution of  knowledge, is likely to “lead to further disparity across socio-economic, cultural or political spheres” (Page 1998).
Thirdly, the inclusion of technology in learning programs may exclude or negatively impact certain types of learners: learners who have been educated in a specific location, manner or era – that is, in a non–computer or non-self discovery style of learning environment; or they themselves as learners prefer other modalities to a non- discovery style of learning, may not respond well in such a technology embracing institution.

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A Culturally-Biased Curriculum?

It is interesting to note that QRITC management responded to staff and student complaints regarding the issues outlined with the curriculum for the International learners by reciting the following benefits:
(A) the fee-paying learners will benefit from the formalised training , offering them a career path training in what has been considered up until that point a menial (unskilled) task. QRITC management believed these international training opportunities were not available to those learners in their home culture. In the case of the Japanese, there exists a very high barrier to entry for the locals aspiring to have a career in the racing industry. By having other training opportunities outside of Japan has brought into question the real needs of the industry as a whole and provided a platform for discussion of more equitable training needs arrangements. Ritchie puts forward that cross border organising can allow scrutiny and debate over oppressive and elitist practices within particular home cultures (Ritchie:1996:494-500). It would appear that the case in hand has shown that this can be a real outcome.; and,
(B) such a training opportunity allows the development of their international industry. QRITC management believed that the QRITC offered training opportunities to the Japanese racing industry, bringing it in line with current world standards (a) of skill and (b) of global reciprocal training etiquette (Kelly:1998:2). Apparently, it is considered that Japan, whilst benefiting enormously from other nation’s openness of offering input of technical expertise, is slow in reciprocating in the opening up of their market for foreign technical or experiential gain . It is thought by many within the Australian Racing Industry that through education influence over the Japanese to understand the western concept of sharing expertise. Again the cultural assumptions and biases that underpin these statements are very Euro-centric, and imperialistic.
The QRITC curriculum was designed from the paradigm where the client is assumed to meet the learning needs of a specific stereotype: English speaking, moderate level of literacy, both communicatively and technologically, and from a eurocentric cultural background. Obviously, a problem arises when the client being offered this type of course, does not satisfy one or any of these target audience characteristics. As already touched on, cultural relevance is of major concern when dealing with cross border training. Ladson-Billings notes that “for almost 15 years, anthropologists have looked at ways to develop a closer fit between a student’s home culture and the school. This work has had a variety of labels including culturally appropriate, culturally congruent, culturally responsive, and culturally compatible (Ladson-Billings:1995:159). QRITC’s management were open about their imperialistic motive, believing they knew what was both best for the clients and for their home industry.

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Language-Biased Delivery?

A major delivery challenge at QRITC was with the international learners and meeting the client’s language, or lack there of, needs. The clients ranged from low to pre-intermediate proficiency levels of English. In the specific context of QRITC’s nationally accredited program, 6 weeks of English instruction is presented up front. This can only be seen as a token gesture as a much longer time is required for achieving real results. For NNS’s, at that level , 6 weeks is little more than a token effort. It was assumed that the students would acquire, ’on the run’ those skills that they need to achieve. From this I draw two distinctions: (1) from a cultural perspective, little regard was provided to the learners’ needs (ie: their lack of having English as a first language); and (2) little understanding of the linguistic process and lack of consideration was given for how the learners were intending to achieve the competencies.
 With regard to the first point, I believe that this situation arose due to the euro-centric paradigm of the curriculum designers. I met with and discussed in detail with both the curriculum designers and their line managers who were influential in having the program approved and implemented. I found them to be extremely euro-centric in their views. In regards to the second point:  both the curriculum designers and line managers had limited knowledge about the second language acquisition process of our learners, in general and for the specific vocational context. Cope and Kalantzis suggest that as part of remaining competitive in the current global economy,   products need to be redesigned to (re)align them to the particular customer. In their paper on productive diversity, they suggest that this kind of flexibility is necessary in the current times; no matter the product or service that is being offered. Presenting a case example, the products included an example of an educational institution in Sydney, an institution characterised with an an ethnically diverse mix of learners. Cope and Kalantzis (1997, 137) describe what the institution did to attempt to keep and maintain its’ flexibility and competitive advantage.  “The academic staff … at UTS were concerned that the diversity of the student body presented a range of teaching and learning difficulties. Identifying these as issues that needed to be addressed academically has been a critical part of transforming the way the university deals with diversity” (Cope and Kalantzis:1997:137). Nunan found in a recent study of an educational system, institutions were expected to design, implement and evaluate their own curriculum: firstly, identifying the learners’ needs; secondly, selecting and grading syllabus content; thirdly, selecting and creating materials and learning activities (delivered through appropriate resources); fourthly, monitoring and assessing learner progress; and lastly, course evaluation (Nunan:1988:6). “At UTS, people are starting to develop new approaches to their curriculum …….. the very practical need to provide an effective service to a diverse clientele. Product Diversity at UTS means making a new curriculum and establishing new learning relationships” (Cope and Kalantzis:1997:139). Unfortunately, the QRITC experience of applying centralised native speaker (NS) focussed programs in contexts outside of their original intended design, without due consideration of the contextual variances, leave a wake of clients that are either dissatisfied with, or disadvantaged by their experience.

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 Learner Differences

Further to the cultural bias, differences of learner orientation were not given due consideration in the QRITC curriculum. Differences of the diverse learner group such as educational background and therefore educational expectation were not considered. The courses were constructed and delivered without such consideration. Integral in this approach is the euro-centric values and beliefs of the European Australian designers. Attitudes to life, employment, education and learning styles are assumed. Integral to this are one’s own learning experience, the cultural thinking processes of their generation, and their focus of their responsibility as leaders within the educational environment. Success within the QRITC management system is measured in terms of governmental accountability, political demands, and industry expected outcomes. Of course, this approach is underpinned by western values and beliefs. The degree of success therefore of those whose learning style falls outside this western accepted way is dependant upon the degree that these non-westernised learners are prepared to or can assimilate a particular learning style as their own learning style. By doing this, the learners are forced to adapt to the western accepted way in order to succeed.
The extent of learner learning style differenceneed not only vary between obvious culturally diverse groups, such as Asian, indigenous to western; but also between various sub-cultural groups within the one culture, such as male and female learners and learning styles, visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and digital learners and learning styles, irrespective of the learner’s cultural traditions. Howard Gardner (1994), a well regarded contemporary proponent of learning styles, recently wrote:
              “We are not all the same; we do not all have the same kinds of minds, education works most effectively for most individuals if these differences in mentation and strengths are taken into account rather that denied or ignored”.
At its most fundamental, learning theory proposes that individuals possess a unique combination of personality traits, perceptual differences and cognitive tendencies form a particular type or style ( Myers and McCaulley 1985), and there are certain learning strategies related to type or style. Research on styles suggests that different learners need different modes of assistance. Concrete-sequential learners need to be told what to do and exactly how to do it, whereas intuitive learners want to find their own answers. Thinking – feeling oriented learners want factual feedback, whereas feeling – oriented learners want greater emotional support. Knowing about styles, especially as they relate to the assistance needed by the learners, would certain enable the trainer to provide an effective learning environment Therefore, a congruent learning approach, a multicultural approach that satisfies the learning objectives of a much broader population base is desired.
A holistic approach to learning via a more inclusive curriculum is desirable for a diverse learner group. A more holistic curriculum that does not overlook the learner’s cultural background has been shown to have great benefit for the learner. Armstrong, Cummins, Gardner and Freire show the benefits of a relevant, culturally-specific educational approach and what can be achieved. All learners should be provided with a range of teaching pedagogy that addresses a range of learning styles. Students have preferred learning styles, different levels of skill, and varied outside responsibilities.  Individual differences need to be addressed in curriculum design. Individual differences theory suggest that learners learn in different ways and that no single styles of teaching is useful to all. As Brand (1998, 50) reinforces, programs designed for technological development can be effective when programming offers flexibility and not based on a one size fits all philosophy.

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Teacher Training

 With the ongoing trend of an increase in the number of Non – Native English (NNEs) speakers studying within Australian Tertiary Institutions, training needs to be provided to all teacher and lecturers to ensure both their pedagogy and their curriculum design is inclusive of the broader range of multicultural clientele participating in their courses. Educators and administrators are continually extended to find methods to prepare teachers adequately for the range of demands they may experience in the classroom. Adequate training can better prepare teachers for the teaching and learning environment, positively affecting the student’s learning experience and the degree to which these students can ultimately integrate and contribute in society beyond the tertiary course. inclusion of technology in the classroom. Large investments in equipment and mass educator training sessions have been the trend as schools focus on producing technologically literate students. Generally, administrators focus on cost effective group -oriented delivery systems, while teachers are primarily concerned with skill building, level of competency, and relevant classroom application.
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Additional to the cultural training needs, administrators and educators agree that present methods of teacher training fail to produce the desired outcome of valid integration of technology into the curriculum (Persky:1989:25). While current technologies expand to include electronic resource sharing, distance learning and interactive video, many educators do not yet have the basic skills necessary to produce a document on a word processor or manage grades on a computerised system (Persky:1989:29). As Nunan suggests, teachers use a range of content, methods and resources that are suitable for different environments, inline with the specific needs of the group (Nunan:1991:228-248). For teachers, courses and modules within teacher education programmes need to be developed. The need for educators to know how to use the computer to accomplish daily tasks is becoming crucial, and demands for computer training are growing.

 Educational Organisation Ancilliary Services

To overcome the lack of teacher efficiencies, many schools and organisations have taken to employing technology in order to offset and improve upon the cost of having teacher manned classrooms or resource spaces. As a result there has been a trend recently amongst educational institutions to develop their Information Technology (IT) team by employing the services of IT specialists with the view to advising their Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) needs. QRITC followed this trend and employed a part-time off-site IT specialist.   Management then expected this part-time IT specialist to maintain the institute’s hardware and software,  as well as assist teachers with the use of technology in the classroom. I observed the scope of duties and the minimal support offered to the specialist IT staff often overwhelmed them. Teachers who are determined to advance their skills, or who already have computer background, benefit from the presence of a part-time specialist. However, there were a number of other staff who did not possess significant computer experience, or were also suffering from a degree of anxiety towards using technology in the classroom. A possible solution QRITC could have considered would have been to employ the services of a full-time site-based specialist to have more time on-site to assist staff and students with the IT issues – operational and user-based . A full-time technology support perhaps could have provided the teachers time to learn and consider how they could implement technology in the school. While the teacher is responsible for teacher education and support, part of their professional function needs to also allow for them being trained in a range of appropriate technology, followed by time to research contemporary views on application in a CAL environment. A full-time site-based IT specialist could also advise as to what equipment may be appropriate given findings of the research and an applied analysis of the needs of that educational department in that particular organisation. Such a a full-time site-based IT specialist could become an important ancillary service to the educational department, working with and assisting the teacher to establish both a technologically appropriate solution to meet the specific educational organisational needs.
However, QRITC decided to purchase a large amount of IT equipment without the benefit of a site-based specialist or active interaction, research, analysis and discussion of the specific educational organisational needs. Unfortunately, what I observed as a result 18 months after the initial IT purchase,was a heavily IT resourced  education department with much of the equipment not able to function properly due to the lack of appropriate systems in place to support that IT system. Additionally, much of the technology was being used in a very limited capacity from a CAL pedagogical point of view. I believe the situation I observed  occurred due to the lack of planning, research and engagement of the staff and learners by the QRITC management and the education leaders in the decision-making process to determine an effective and valid solution to the specific issues within the QRITC learning environment.  QRITC teaching staff were not provided training in a range of appropriate technology; teaching staff were not invited into the discussion regarding the challenges they were experiencing in the multi-cultural learning environments; teaching staff were not invited or encouraged to investigate CAL pedagogy;  and consider a range of options that may address the specific issues within the QRITC learning environment. Given this, I wonder on what basis QRITC management and the education leaders decided to purchase the large amount of IT equipment? Was the equipment  a technologically appropriate solution to meet the specific educational organisational needs?  A summary of the equipment and services bought follows: 16 Pentium terminals for the students, 3 for the instructors, 2 servers, a CD stacker, modem, printers, Internet access, as well as a broad range of software and the appropriate site licences. The dollar cost of purchase of this equipment was approximately $68,000. Additional costs included the cost of installation, setting up of both Computer Aided Learning (CAL) and Computer Aided Language Learning (CALL) software, the customising of these, and maintenance of the system once installed. This included assigning a budget to external consultants and sub-contractors over a 12 –18 month period. Such expenditure represented a significant outlay to the educational institution, and with any investment, it would have been reassuring to know that accompanying this significant investigation, there was robust discussion, research and consideration of multiple options; taking into account the educational context, the learners and their expected outcomes, the educational philosophy of the institute, and ofcourse, the design of the curriculum.
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Global Educational Model to Change

Today, the use of technology has quickly grown beyond the realm of luxury. There are few schools and classrooms that do not have access to various technologies ranging from VCR’s to computers and satellite communications. In this essay, I have attempted to highlight the  show that the use of Computer Technology as a means of counterbalancing the perpetuating of outmoded parameters. It is a trend that has the potential to change the form, the delivery and influence the content of the curriculum. However, as shown in the QRITC example, it also brings with it its own set of shortcomings. These need to be carefully considered prior to widespread embrace. Like all technological development, its real strength is in its’ application as a tool in the process of a specific context; not as a means unto itself, but merely as a tool. And as with any tool, the usefulness of a tool is based upon how appropriate the tool is for that specific function; and how well one has been taught to use it. With the increasing development and availability of technology, a systematic restructuring of schools is occuring to meet the technology needs of the organisation, and also to better equip the teachers for integrating technology effectively, into the learning environment.  Whilst I would hope that technology is embraced as a potential avenue to support the learning of their students, organisational strategies need to be developed to ensure appropriate levels of access for all those involved – namely teachers and students – are facilitated. Central to this restructuring effort and facilitating access is the professional development of teachers. In America President Clinton has put the challenge to the whole nation:
             ” In schools, every classroom in America must be connected to the information super highway with computer and good software and well-trained teachers”. President Bill Clinton (Bush and Terry :1997:263)
Only through extensive preservice and inservice activities will teachers acquire the understanding, skills and confidence they need to use technology in their classroom and prepare their students for an information based society. I will now outline an approach that QRITC could take in their restructuring and ensuring appropriate levels of access are facilitated .
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Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) Teacher Training

Once the curriculum has been designed for optimal learning experience, the “program should then effectively enable the teacher to facilitate positive and effective learning experiences”(Page 2008).
The pedagogy that the teacher chooses for a particular training workshop will influence the learning experience of the participants. In contemporary computer teacher training, there are currently two distinct approaches. The first approach includes both concentrated and generic workshops. Concentrated workshops are workshops where volume of content and information is offered, but little time is allocated for tasks where the participants can practice and absorb that content. A generic workshop on the other hand may focus on general application and offer little information that can be applied to a specific content area.
An alternate approach in contemporary computer teacher training workshops is described by Owen (1992) as hardware-centred and teacher – centred. Hardware – centred workshops are courses where students learn to use computers and new technologies through a series of focused lessons and activities. The distinguishing feature of this course as distinct from the alternative, is that the instruction and outcomes focus on the technology and its application in general and broad terms. In the teacher – centred approach, instruction and activity in information technologies is given in the context of existing programmes and the technology is used as a means to an end.
Regardless of the pedagogical approaches to these workshop, research reveals five keys to successful training:
1) Sherwood purports that one of the major barriers experience by teachers in the process of integrating technology, is the lack of time. Teachers must have substantial time to acquire and, in turn, transfer to the classroom the knowledge learnt. Although training and development time varies according to individuals, Guhlin (1996) states the time required is whatever satisfies a teacher’s need for exploratory learning. Teachers need considerable training and development so that they are firstly empowered in their own skill level before they can transfer that into the classroom.
2) The second key to successful training is differing levels proficiency of the participants must be addressed. Each group is made up of individual with skill levels varying from none at all to highly proficient. Fast-paced, group-oriented in-service sessions therefore, do not enhance learning. It offers useful information to small number of trainees. Training therefore must begin at a skill level of the educators to ensure success. As often the case in adult second language learning, intelligence is equated with the level of proficiency in the language. So it comes to be assume that elementary students are not as intelligent as the advanced level students are. This assumption of course has no basis, and teachers who do toy with the idea soon realise the error of their ways. In computer training a parallel scenario would be that a trainer equates the level of technical knowledge to intelligence. Level of anxiety and stress is usually high at the beginner level and it would be up to the trainer to help the learners overcome the anxiety and stress.
3) The third key is that a vast majority of time should be spent actively working with technology, in small groups and individually. Learning a skill requires active interaction with people and things, requirement that is not satisfied by passively watching and listening to a presentation. In an article title Restructuring for Learning with Technology: The potential for Synergy, Karen Sheigold writes:
                          ”Effective learning hinges on the active engagement of students in constructing their own knowledge and understanding. Such learning is not a solitary practice; it occurs through interaction with support from the world of people and objects” (1991,19)
4) The fourth key to successful training is that the training session should focus on functionality rather than newness and complexity with regard to hardware and software tools. Less complex software and hardware is often superior for beginner projects because it can be learned more quickly.
5) Ritchie and Wilburg (1994) state that skills and knowledge gained in workshops frequently are not transferred to professional activity because of the lack of on going assistance and development. Coaching or mentoring is one approach that can be used to sustain the cognitive momentum created through workshops as teachers explore implementing new skills and knowledge into their teaching. Novice users of technology can be paired with more experienced users, who act as mentors. Mentors assist their partners by clarifying concepts, discussing problem areas and collaboration to find workable solutions, and tutoring in the use of hardware and software. Through this process, novice teachers gain confidence in their ability to thoughtfully integrate technology in their teaching. When an expert teacher provides the instruction, the teacher- learners also have a benchmark for measuring their own progress.
If technology is to be used by students, then teacher confidence, understanding, skill to effectively incorporate technology into their teaching practices. This will only occur by providing adequate training and development. So far technology has had little impact on a significant number of classrooms. Educators will continue to respond negatively to the introduction of computer assisted learning. In America The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) in America now includes a set of standards for educational technology. The standards recommend that every teacher acquire a set of foundation skills and concepts related to technology, regardless of the teacher’s area of specialisation. These standards includes ability of perform tasks and demonstrate various skills on the basic computer programs to multimedia and hypermedia . It would seem logical to assume that the Australian body for teacher accreditation would do the same. School and governments will continue to invest billions of dollars in the latest hardware and software, but their goals and measurable educational improvements will continue to fall short unless they realistically invest in their most important resource, their teachers. The lack of effectiveness of technology training for educators has been a major deterrent in the implementation of technology resources in the classroom. Universities are graduating teachers with minimal computer training. Glenn and Carrier agree that educators are entering the classroom lacking sufficient skills and exposure to use technology. “Since information systems become more complex and change rapidly, teachers are handicapped even before they start” (1986, 68).

Conclusion

In this essay, I have discussed a number of considerations when educational institutions explore the idea of offering computer assisted learning (CAL) with the vision of enhancing the student learning experience.
 Whilst technology is rapidly developing world-wide, there is a cost to this technology that may be a barrier to entry for certain persons or cultures within nations where such a cost is prohibitive. Additionally, certain cultures or lifestyles may not allow for the dependencies of computer technology such as power and land lines for internet access (eg: nomadic cultures).  So whilst we in a developed western nation have broad access to computer technology, it would be false to assume that is the case for every person in every nation, and therefore a CAL program offered to a range of nationalities may have diverse levels of previous experience with that technology. I then examined how curriculum needed to be designed with a particular learner in mind, to avoid a common error in my experience where the curriculum encompassed very particular and specific cultural bias that excluded certain learners, rather than being inclusive. Extending this point, certain curriculum is biased towards a particular language (in the examples provided English), and this too could be an overlooked design feature that excludes certain learners, rather than including them.
Following I discussed how diverse each learner can potentially be, even within one cultural,  language group or gender. Learning theory has found learners favouring either visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or digital0based learners irrespective of the learner’s cultural traditions. Other influences were also noted to be one’s generation and style of education they experienced within their compulsory education as a child and adolescent. This has implications for teacher training with regard to both the multicultural awareness of the brooding ethnic mix within Australian’s institutions, but also the broadening of the teacher’s pedagogy to be inclusive of a greater range of learning styles.
Further, with the advancement of technology, computer assisted learning (CAL) needs to be both philosophically and pedagogically  considered by an educational organisational team to ensure that they can meet the specific learning outcomes of that particular organisation. To not do such, may result in a large expenditure of the organisation’s budget for little benefit to the education department – the teacher’s, the learners and their learning outcomes. IT support is a crucial functional role in this process, to assist with both purchasing, installing and maintaining the hardware, but also with the training of the staff in extended use of the technology. With technological advancement, it is recognised that future generations will have increasing levels of computer technology in their lives; and therefore it is essential to commence planning for computer assisted learning (CAL) across all learning platforms. With this however, management of educational organisations must accept and embrace this pending era by providing adequate levels of teacher training programs. It is only through extensive preservice and inservice activities that  teachers will acquire the understanding, skills and confidence they need to use technology in their classroom and prepare their students for an information based society. I concluded my essay outlining two alternate approaches that QRITC could take in their facilitation of effective computer assisted learning, highlighting five keys to ensure that the most effective training can take place.
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Grant, C.A. and Sleeter, C.E. (1986). Education Equity: Education That Is Multicultural and Social Reconstructionist. Journal of Education Equity and Leadership, 6. 105-118.
Harris, R. and Schutte, R. (1985), A Review of Competency-Based Occupational Education, in P. Mountney and P.S.Mageean (Eds) Issues in TAFE, Payneham, SA, TAFE National Centre for Research and Development, pp 43-65.
Hanvey, R. G. (1982). An Attainable Global Perspective. Theory into Practice, 21, 162-67.
Knoebel M, and Lankshear, C (1994) Learning Genres:Prospects For Empowerment. QUT:Brisbane
Ladson-Billings, G (1995) But that’s Just Good Teaching! The Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. Theory into Practice, 34(3), 159 – 165
Learning Philosophy image courtesy of:  Learning  Accessed 15th October 2013
Macedo, D. (1994). Literacies of power: What Americans are not allowed to know. Boulder: Westview Press.
McCarthy, C. and Crichlow, (1993) Race, Identity and Representation in Education. New York: Routledge.
London, K. (1988). Global Peace Begins In Our Classrooms. The Language Teacher, 12(2), 21-35.
Merryfield, M. M. (1993). Reflective Practice In Global Education Strategies For Teacher Educators. Theory into Practice, 32, 27-32.
Merryfield, M. M. (1994). Teacher education in global and international education. Washington, DC: AACTE Publications.
Multicultural Diversity image courtesy of Multicultural Diversity  Accessed 15th October 2013
Nunan, D. (1985). Toward a Collaborative Approach to Curriculum
Ontario Ministry of Education and Training (1995). The Common Curriculum: Policies and Outcomes, Grades 1-9. Toronto: Ontario Ministry of Education and Training.
Page, David (2008). Educational Philosophy Part 1 Accessed 15th October 2013
Page, David (1998). International Education Part 1 Accessed 15th October 2013
Parkinson, L and OSullivan,K. (1990). Negotiating The Learner Centered Curriculum. In Brindley,G.(ed). 1990. The Second Language Curriculum In Action. Sydney:NCELT.
Peaty, D. (1995). Environmental Issues. Tokyo: Macmillan Language House.
Sessoms, I. (1994). A Conceptual Model of Infusing Multicultural Curriculum In Various Academic Disciplines in Higher Education. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the National Association Multicultural Education, Detroit.
Technology in Learning image courtesy of:  Technology  Accessed 15th October 2013
Tye, K. A., & Kniep, W. M. (1991). Global education around the world. Educational Leadership, 48, 47-49.
Urch, G. E. (1992). Global Education: The Time Is Now. Educational Horizons, 71, 15-17.
Wahlstrom, M. A., & Clarken, R. H. (1992). Preparing Teachers For Education That Is Multicultural and Global. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. San Francisco.
Wallerstein, N. (1983). Language and Culture in Conflict: Problem-Posing in the ESL Classroom. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing.
Wenden, A. L. (1992). Peace Education: What and Why. TESOL Matters, 2(1), 1-6.
Yoshimura, M. (1993). Teaching Global Issues to Children. The Language Teacher, 17(5), 11-15.
– ©David L Page 20/11/1998
– updated ©David L Page 16/10/2013
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.
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International Education Part 2

International Learners Studying in Australia

curriculum-design

There is a growing number of Non – Native English (NNEs) speakers within the Australian Tertiary sector. Figures obtained from 3 Australian Tertiary Institutions shows an overall increase in the number of Non – Native English (NNEs) speakers studying within Australian over the past 10 years. The environs of the Australian Tertiary Institution therefore is one of a multicultural nature. I intend to show that Australian Tertiary Institutions, in teaching to a multicultural clientele in a traditional Éuro-western manner are disregarding the cultural heritage and therefore the needs of these NNEs participating in the course. This then impacts the degree to which these students can integrate and contribute in society.

multiculturalism-_diversity

I will firstly give the historical development as to how these barriers came to exist, followed by the consequences of this. I have then made some suggestions for leaders, social and educational to assist in the process. Cultural hegemony is defined by Erickson as “the established view of things — a commonsense view of what is and why things happen that serves the interests of those people already privileged in a society” (1997: 49). Education is a very effective vehicle for achieving either the empowerment or exclusion of individuals or groups in society (Knoebel & Lankshear:1994:5). The many facets of life which are adversely affected by a hegemonic social order include the political, the economic, the social, the psychological, the personal, and beyond. For the purposes of this discussion on why and how multiculturalism is currently embraced — seeing as it is illogical to assume that any facet of life can be separated from another — all of these aspects inform education, broadly, and pedagogy, specifically.
Goldberg offers a history of the monocultural ideal which fostered the present-day need for a multicultural vision of society. He claims that in the late nineteenth century, monoculturalism emerged as an institutional ideology which served to create the impression of an intellectual tradition where there was none. By the mid-twentieth century, this Western European monocultural ideal, cemented in other ‘Westernised’ nations as hegemonic intellectual and institutional practice, “reflected and reproduced the lines of ethnoracialized demarcation” in order to keep them “white” (1994: 4). As political, technological, and economic interests became global links between countries, cultural hegemony spread beyond the borders of the Western European countries and other Westernised’ nations, such as the United States and Australia. With the creation of the “Third World” order by “First World” dominance and domination, Goldberg suggests that monocultural assumptions and prescriptions abounded for those in the “Third World” who were thought unable to think and act for themselves (1994:4). As monoculturalism universalizes the values, traditions, and language of a single culture while marginalizing and pathologizing all others, in a multicultural society, monoculturalism is absolutely equal to cultural hegemony.
In Australia, monoculturalism was and continues to be operationalised through assimilation. McCarthy (1993) claims that at the turn of the century, assimilationist ideology grew out of a Euro-Western response to the increasing presence of immigrants who were a potential threat to the established Euro-Western monocultural social order. Assimilation was thus a means of giving up one’s “un-European” or “ethnic” culture in order to embrace that dictated by the monocultural interpretation (Goldberg: 1994: 4). This is what blending into the melting pot, in essence, becoming a part of the mainstream, entails — the renunciation of “one’s subjectivity in name, culture, and as far as possible, colour” (Goldberg: 1994: 5). Power in Euro-Western society belongs to those who continue to define values monoculturally, and thus everything is shaped to serve their interests.
With the advent of the 1960s, those who were continually forced to assimilate — all the “others” as defined by the mainstream — began to assert themselves politically and culturally (Goldberg: 1994: 5-6). Due to demographic shifts and social movements, the 1960’s signalled a shift from the ideal of assimilation to one of integration. Integration, according to Goldberg, gave ethnic groups control of their private lives at the margins while continuing to define central values monoculturally (1994: 6). The monocultural centre of Australian life was not challenged very much by small groups attempting to integrate. Even with political and cultural acknowledgment at the margins, however, the “others” continued to be economically oppressed (1994: 6). The fact that ethnic groups were starving for economic and cultural inclusion, “insurgent cultural expressions” could be either suppressed or diluted through the “tokenism of economic and cultural appropriation” (1994: 6). That is, with the offer of a mainstream, middle class lifestyle, the “Others” who made too much noise were quieted down.
critical-multiculturalism
In response to the history of rejection, assimilation, integration, and subjugation, Goldberg claims that multiculturalism and commitments to cultural diversity have emerged which are resistant to monoculturalism (1994: 7). Macedo sees multiculturalism as calling into question “Western cultural hegemony and the barbarism Western cultures committed against other cultural groups in the name of ‘civilising’ the ‘barbaric’ other” (1994: 39). The fact that a multicultural ideal has been able to surface is proof that White patriarchal supremacy, which silences and subjugates others, no longer has the magnitude of power that it once enjoyed. “It is an educational imperative that we recognise that in the late 20th century, the needs of humanity to transcend cultural difference or national borders as we share a common future” (Merryfield:1994: 7). Multicultural society, viewed as an aggregation of individuals from culturally diverse backgrounds, is now faced with a challenge: developing an educational system that reflects it’s societal needs. The current era, characterised by an aging middle class population, leaving a smaller percentage of the population to generate the economic needs to fund the society (Drucker et al:1997:19), requires all ‘productive’ members of society as fully functioning, independent contributors. For its very survival, it needs for all society, irrespective of cultural background to be able to access relevant and appropriate education.
Ladson-Billings notes that “for almost 15 years, anthropologists have looked at ways to develop a closer fit between a student’s home culture and the school. This work has had a variety of labels including culturally appropriate, çulturally congruent, culturally responsive, and culturally compatible (Ladson-Billings:1995:159). Bartolome in Ladson-Billings “has argued for a humanising pedagogy that respects and uses the reality, history, and perspectives of students as an integral part of educational perspective (1994:173)” (Ladson-Billings:1995:160). 3 criteria underpins culturally relevant pedagogy: “(a) Students must experience academic success; (b) students must develop and/or maintain cultural competance; and (c) students must develop a critical consciousness through which they challenge the status quo of the current social order” (Ladson-Billings:1995:160). An integral part of the success of such a program is the ‘methodology’ that the teaching staff adopt. “The teachers kept the relations between themselves and their students fluid and equitable”. Displaying a participative approach, “they encourage the students to act as teachers, and they themselves often functioned as learners in the classroom”. ”For these teachers, knowledge is continuously recreated, recycled and shared by the teachers and the students. Thus, they were not dependant on state curriculum frameworks or textbooks to decide what and how to teach”. As a result, “the teachers exhibited a passion about what they were teaching – showing enthusiasm and vitality about what was being taught and learned”. “..the students came to them with skill deficiencies, the teachers worked to help the students build bridges or scaffolding so that they could be proficient in the more challenging work they experienced in the classroom” (Ladson-Billings:1995:163).
learning-philosophy
The function of education, it is said, is to maximize the human capital value of persons, in the most effective and efficient manner, for the pursuit of their individual and collective goals within a utilitarian framework (Harris & Schutte:1985:45). Educational quality is thus defined in terms of this function – that is, the effective and efficient attainment of such ends. Any assessment of the educational quality of a program therefore requires that it be done in terms of that program’s effectiveness and efficiency as a means of attaining the specified ends – the attainment of desired ends in terms of educational costs. ‘Indicators’ of educational success or performance must therefore focus either directly on individual educational gains, or indirectly on the consequential market outcomes (such as employment gains or reduced criminality). However, those performance indicators that focus on educational procedures (such as the attainment of targets for the representation of ethnic minorities in educational programs) are therefore seen as only temporary measures to offset the distorting effects of past ethnic discrimination. The ideal free market in education requires only outcome measures: truly outcomes-driven education (Harris & Schutte:1985:47).

british-journal-of-edcuational-studies

Therefore, the maximization of educational effectiveness requires, most importantly:
  1. the prior specification of the intended educational outcomes (as goals or objectives) or their consequences;
  2. the management of the ensuing education in such a way as to maximize the attainment of those desired ends ;and
  3. the evaluation of that education and its entailed learning in such a way as to assess the extent to which the desired ends have been realised in actual educational outcomes or their consequences Harris & Schutte:1985:48).
Given this then, we as a society must reevaluate what outcomes that it is desirous of. Aviram is of the opinion that for this repositioning to occur, a social evolution with the stripping of old parameters is necessary. It would need for the organisation of social beings to be different to that which it is currently. It would need for the definitions of organisations to be changed, causing “the organisation to be regarded as a different organisation”(1996:426). Aviram suggests that the aims, target audience, organisational activities, organisational structure and methods need to be synergised into new constructs. These models developed could then “pave the way for a new educational paradigm”, indicating the starting point of the “new educational world” (1996:435).  Teaching Non-Native speakers via a more inclusive curriculum; via a more wholistic curriculum that doesn’t take Euro – Western cultural background, understanding and performance expectation for granted. Yes, a change to the current way of delivering education. To deny an active, productive group within the society of relevant educational knowledge and understanding, is to deny them the opportunity to take their rightful place as social contributors, and to deny the rest of society the opportunity to as a collective, to fulfill our economic aspirations. A multiculturally congruent approach: an approach that satisfies the learning objectives of a much broader population base then is required. To help students become responsible social citizens, teachers should strive to educate students in a more pro-active manner. This can be achieved by a heuristic approach. This would in turn direct the student’s learning by choosing the content relevant to their needs. To achieve the difficult goal of creating independent, thoughtful students choose their content with great care and consideration. The truism about today’s youth becoming tomorrow’s leaders demands education about global issues.
In my experience, differences in learner orientation such as educational background and therefore educational expectation are not given due consideration in the way courses that are offered to culturally diverse groups are being constructed and delivered. Incorporate in this approach are the eurocentric values and beliefs of the European Australian context of its’ design/designers. Attitudes to life, employment, education and learning styles are assumed. Integral to this are cultural thinking processes and a perception of one’s community responsibilities.
learning-philosophy
By doing this, clients and participants are forced to adapt to the western accepted way in order to succeed, or not. The degree of success therefore of those whose learning style falls outside this western accepted way is dependant upon them assimilating this method as their own learning style. Furthermore, this successful learning culture need not only vary between obvious culturally diverse groups, such as Asian, Indigenous to Western; but also between various sub- cultural groups within the one culture, such as male and female learners/learning styles, visual, auditory, kinesthetic and digital learners/learning styles, irrespective/in addition to the learner’s cultural traditions. For a fully functioning society, the development of human resources could be argued as being of paramount importance. Participation is already acknowledged as an important characteristic of the new order, with a more wholistic, self-understanding, heuristic approach complimenting this way. Armstrong, 1994; Cummins, 1986; Gardner, 1993; and Freire, 1972 show the benefits of a relevant, empowering educational approach and what can be achieved within their community. Whilst the teacher acts more in the vain of a facilitator, they guide the learners to what education they need, the kinds of processes they need to acquire and which global issues could be covered.
Within the tertiary context of my experience, my students create a foundation that covers the basic issues of how the course will be run. Students often plan to research a small number of global topics deeply, and decide their assessment collectively. With students making plans relatively independently, they discover the intrinsic importance of the human rights or environmental issues they choose to study. In order to be sure of the quality of the course, various forms of continual feedback can be drawn upon. Encouraging students to make responsible decisions, demands that as teachers we trust our students: to trust our students as learned recipients of an empowering process. Students empowered to create a peaceful, tolerant, and sustainable environment in the community of their classroom are naturally better prepared to create the same environment in the world itself. Beginning university students irrespective of their cultural background may never have been encouraged to think about global issues before. More importantly, university graduates might never have the chance again. Widespread ignorance of global issues among first year university students is hardly surprising, but it can be cured.
As a university teacher, I feel responsible for demonstrating a meaningful connection between my students’ lives and issues of global significance. For those university ESL teachers who would like to “inject” global ideas into their classes, suggestions have been made by Baerwald (1987), Birch (1996), Crandall (1993), Dorman, (1992), Elder and Carr (1987), Sessoms (1994), Wahlstrom and Clarken (1992), and Wenden (1992). Although they represent a wide variety of disciplines, all these educators advocate “superimposing” (London, 1991, p. 22) global issues throughout the curriculum. As a university teacher, I have used research and trial and error to develop ways to infuse global issues into every university language-learning classroom. Keeping Freire’s (1972) ideas about leaving crucial decisions up to the learner in mind, I have found learners willing to be led in their learning self-responsibility and in the development of their global awareness. I would have liked to offer some specifics about the teacher’s role in this process, but the limits of this essay prevent me from doing it here. I have then made some suggestions for leaders, social and educational to assist in the process.

Conclusion

Within this essay I have attempted to present two issues. Firstly, that the current Australian tertiary education system, being a product of a euro-western, monoculturalist ideal provides a number of barriers to the effective teaching of a multicultural society that today exists in Australia. This multicultural society includes Non-Native English speakers (NNEs). Ineffective teaching, as suggested can impact the greater society in its’ realisation of macro goals. Given this, we as a society need to reevaluate the outcomes that we desire, and to make a conscious decision as to whether the current social ideal (euro-western educational system) is to continue. The question I  pose is: should we not be attempting to maximise the contribution of all members of society. It is I believe our leader’s responsibility to ensure that education for responsible citizenship – allowing all to assume their rightful, productive position within our community – so that everybody has an important place in society. The second issue that I chose to broach was how we as educational leaders could contribute once we were in a position to develop an educational system that meets the needs of contemporary Australia.
With reference to my tertiary educational institutional experience, I propose a heuristic educational approach to be adopted. In this approach, the teacher assumes more of a facilitative role, leading the learners to their own self-development, guiding them to greater understanding as to who they are as social members and what they need to learn to become more able to contribute in the contemporary global environment.
This blog series is planned to continue next month with International Education Part 3.
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Aviram, A (1996) The Decline of the Modern Paradigm in Education. International Review of Education, 42(5),421;423 – 443
Baerwald, T J (1987) Thirteen Tips for Teaching Geography in any Setting. Journal of Teacher Education, 86, 165 -167
Birch, B. (1996). Aspects of Peace Education Which Should Concern Writers of ESL Materials. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Chicago.
Blanton, L. L. (1992). A Holistic Approach to College ESL: Integrating Language and Content. ELT Journal, 46, 285-293.
Bragaw, D. H. (1991) Priority: Curriculum. The Global Imperative and Its’ Metalanguage. Foreign Language Annuals. April, 115-124.
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Critical multiculturalism image courtesy of Critical Multiculturalism Accessed 15th October 2013
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Harris, R. and Schutte, R. (1985), A Review of Competency-Based Occupational Education, in P. Mountney and P.S.Mageean (Eds) Issues in TAFE, Payneham, SA, TAFE National Centre for Research and Development, pp 43-65.
Hanvey, R. G. (1982). An Attainable Global Perspective. Theory into Practice, 21, 162-67.
Knoebel M, and Lankshear, C (1994) Learning Genres:Prospects For Empowerment. QUT:Brisbane
Ladson-Billings, G (1995) But that’s Just Good Teaching! The Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. Theory into Practice, 34(3), 159 – 165
Leadership image courtesy of  Leadership  Accessed 15th October 2013
Learning Philosophy image courtesy of:  Learning  Accessed 15th October 2013
Macedo, D. (1994). Literacies of power: What Americans are not allowed to know. Boulder: Westview Press.
McCarthy, C. and Crichlow, (1993) Race, Identity and Representation in Education. New York: Routledge.
London, K. (1988). Global Peace Begins In Our Classrooms. The Language Teacher, 12(2), 21-35.
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Multicultural Diversity image courtesy of Multicultural Diversity  Accessed 15th October 2013
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Peaty, D. (1995). Environmental Issues. Tokyo: Macmillan Language House.
Sessoms, I. (1994). A Conceptual Model of Infusing Multicultural Curriculum In Various Academic Disciplines in Higher Education. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the National Association Multicultural Education, Detroit.
Student image courtesy of  Curriculum Design  Accessed 15th October 2013
Tye, K. A., & Kniep, W. M. (1991). Global education around the world. Educational Leadership, 48, 47-49.
Urch, G. E. (1992). Global Education: The Time Is Now. Educational Horizons, 71, 15-17.
Wahlstrom, M. A., & Clarken, R. H. (1992). Preparing Teachers For Education That Is Multicultural and Global. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. San Francisco.
Wallerstein, N. (1983). Language and Culture in Conflict: Problem-Posing in the ESL Classroom. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing.
Wenden, A. L. (1992). Peace Education: What and Why. TESOL Matters, 2(1), 1-6.
Yoshimura, M. (1993). Teaching Global Issues to Children. The Language Teacher, 17(5), 11-15.
– ©David L Page 15/11/1998
– updated ©David L Page 16/10/2013
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.