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How technology-mediated learning can help non-profits

October 28, 2014
Raina Delisle

Non-profit organizations worldwide are tapping into the opportunities that technology-mediated learning (TML) offers for staff training and learners in their programs. With a background in non-profit work and post-secondary education, Christine Wrightson saw firsthand how TML was affecting organizations. Her interest brought her to Royal Roads to pursue her MA in Learning and Technology.

During her studies at RRU, Wrightson noticed the ways multiculturalism relates to TML came up again and again.

“I thought it was an interesting and important area,” says Wrightson, who is graduating next week and will be presenting her research at the 1st Annual Royal Roads University Graduate Conference in Innovative Learning. “I think that non-profit organizations are seeking to capitalize on the benefits that technology provides for their programs, particularly when you take the viewpoint that it can be used as a tool for inclusion and education.”

Through her research, Wrightson learned that it’s essential to create a cohesive learning environment when you have multicultural learners. She identified a range of strategies to achieve this outcome.

“The main thing is the reflexivity, for the instructor and the program designer to be aware of how their own cultures influence their decisions and then also understand how the culture of the learners is influencing their expectations, their behavior, their access to technology, all those sort of things,” she says. “Programs need to be flexible, but structured. There needs to be an openness about expectations and about the learning process.”

Communication and community building are also key, Wrightson points out. She suggests introduction activities, digital storytelling and other initiatives that promote reflexivity of one’s own culture, learning and beliefs while also helping to understand other learners.

The way people navigate TML has a lot to do with their culture, Wrightson says. She points to an example of African and Norwegian students and how they came together in a program to create a unique third culture.

“Initially the African students found it disrespectful how the Norwegians were very direct in their communication and critical of the instructors and fellow students,” she says. “The Africans were more reserved, which the Norwegians found frustrating. But over time, both groups modified their communication and created a more cohesive learning community.”

Wrightson and 14 other graduates will be sharing their research on Nov. 3 at the 1st Annual Graduate Conference in Innovative Learning.