Tuesday, 7 January 2014

A tool for screening #gender and #ethnicity in #mobile courses

First of all a wonderful 2014 with lots of inspiring moments and growing wisdom!

To start this new year, I gladly share a short paper that describes an instrument I made years ago to screen mobile courses for their gender and ethnicity depiction/narrative before roll out. It is a simple tool, with a simple clicking system and systematic, but nevertheless it has provided me with many insights into my own repetition of the norm embedded in me by culture and habit.

The description of the tool can be read here via academia, in a short paper that was published in
de Waard, I., & Zolfo, M. (2009). Integrating gender and ethnicity in mobile courses ante-design: a TELearning instrument. Name: International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies3, 77-78.

This simple tool was initially build to construct interactive mobile courses for health care workers in different developing regions, but with the rise of MOOC, I figure it could be used for all global courses. Or for very local courses at that. Identity and empowerment are so fundamental to self-esteem, confidence and learning success that a conscious choice to use specific identities in an online course might push interaction, understanding, and self-reassurance.

How does it work: you take your course storyboard - or your course pilot content - and you go through. Every character (animated or real; visual or audio) is categorized or numbered. For example if a black colored woman animated actor is used in the course, the skin color is clicked, the gender is clicked, and her action is counted (an action can either be passive or active - for example a female doctor actively examining a patient). This counting is done for all characters and all narrative voices. At the end the tool tells you how each gender and ethnicity is depicted in the course, and that can be an indicator to redesign certain features to make the course overall more balanced (or focused on a specific identity if that is your wish).

Although this was made for mobile courses, the relevance for MOOC is evident. So I dare you to take this simple tool, and to go to a MOOC you are following and screen it for its gender/ethnic/active-passive representation. That will clearly show how 'global' the content is.
In the process of adding age more specifically as well.