A Global Blogger’s Needs Assessment: In Honor of International Education Week

As both an educator and a student (yes, I’m still in school, working on my doctorate – which means my college students understand they’re ‘out of luck’ when it comes to complaining about assignments I give them versus their busy schedules), as well as a proponent of education, in general (as I tend to prescribe to the notion that a little bit of knowledge and wisdom can go a long way in solving problems), I want to take this opportunity to honor

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IEW takes on significant meaning for many this year who might otherwise take their educational experiences for granted, as this past month, the world has been faced with the disturbing example of Malala Yousufzai and other young Pakistani women paying much higher prices than the rising tuitions of which many in our country complain.

Most recently, for me it takes on the significance of Hope for South Sudanese children – both boys and girls – their country recovering from a war-torn zone and offering new hope through education within their villages.

The Hope Kinder-Garden School

A few years back, as the e-Community was pioneering viable global educational opportunities, I was privileged to have gotten published, along with a few of my colleagues also specializing in distance e-Learning, on the subject of the Global Needs Assessment (in the AACE Journal, 2005). I believe some of the thoughts that were presented in that paper also apply to good blogging principles. I think I’ll let today’s contribution highlight those with a new focus on “The Blog.”

The first step in ‘Instructional’ Design

is the Needs Assessment –

determining the GAP between “what is” and “what should be.”

A good blog should define its necessity and should take into consideration the audience that is being addressed (which is often global and diverse).

Let’s face it. If you were doing this blog ‘just for you,’ you’d see no need in publishing it on the Web. (I will accept ‘just for my ego’ as an alternate need fulfillment explanation; but if you’re no longer your own audience, there might be some good advice for you to glean somewhere down this page.)

Here are but a few highlights to consider:

  • Recognize there are risks and uncertainties in what is being communicated. (Hope that if you are misunderstood, you have the opportunity to explain yourself /or/ simply realize your position may be controversial and decide if you are prepared to be disputed.)
  • Develop a collaborative relationship. (Encourage interaction. And that you will eventually lose it if there is no respect in understanding.)
  • Be attuned to the needs of your readership and how to best support them. (This ordinarily requires respectful interaction.)
  • Target the lowest common denominator of technology. (If you have a snazzy video, great! But also consider including a lower resolution image to be helpful to those who may not have the bandwidth to support your original offering.)

Cultural Implications

Values and Traditions

Freedom to express oneself or off-handed humor may be perfectly normal in one culture, while viewed as impolite in another. Many cultures view an instructor as an expert who is not to be questioned; while others view the instructor as a facilitator to conduct debates and stretch the student beyond one’s own views.

Let’s face it. I may have inflamed someone reading early in this post by backing the right of education for females. And, to a degree, I have to respect the fear that comes with a change that can threaten members of a society. However, I also firmly believe that a culture cannot thrive without education – even if it means allowing beliefs to be tested so someone can decide for themselves why they are firmly rooted in that value system. (And I can NEVER agree with making victims in order to support a cause or belief.)

In the blog setting, you are only an authority because you’ve deemed yourself to be so. If your readership has made that decision in conjunction with you, do not abuse that authority. Admit that your views are based on understandings of your culture and your experiences.

Practice and Application of Learning

Depending on the blogging audience you’ve attracted, you might not expect to receive a massive number of comments or even ‘likes.’ I know that news is disappointing; but realize that some cultures (or sub-cultures) learn merely through quiet observance; while others enjoy taking a participatory role.

Remember this when you’re reading comments on your blogs. You may not be receiving feedback regarding the needs of your entire readership. You might try to survey your readership periodically through investigative surveys or by leaving contact information where readers might respond that will not appear for the entire blogging community to view.

Technology Awareness

Many bloggers choose their technology based upon the tools and resources that have been made available to them through the platform. Some bloggers pay to enhance those resources. However, realize that just because you have the ability to produce advanced offerings does not mean that all of your readership has the capability to view them.

Some countries’ analog phone systems don’t support digital connections, and many remote areas have unreliable connections or low bandwidth capabilities. Larger files (such as videos) may not be supported (thus my earlier suggestion to offer alternate, lower-resolution substitutes). You could decide that these audience members aren’t important to you, but in doing so, you may be missing out on some rich future learning experiences of your own!

Also, please be certain to test your own links and file inserts after publishing your work. Nothing will frustrate (and chase away) a readership more quickly than dead links.

Communications

I have a feeling that most readers in the blogging community have a tendency to be more patient and understanding (and likely curious) about the gaps and social faux pas made by bloggers, simply because most of the readership acknowledges that we are lurking in a global setting. (Eek, I just made a faux pas in that last sentence because I don’t know how to make ‘faux pas’ plural in French – maybe one of my readers can help me out!)

I also need to acknowledge how appreciative I am of my blogging friends in this community who honor me by putting their words in English when it is not their primary language – and do so without accusing me of being slovenly for my inability to honor them in that same way. The beauty of the blogging platform is that it does allow for translations to take place through a selected translation setting. However, please be aware that much meaning is lost in words, sentence structure and colloquialisms. Try to remember to explain your meaning when you realize you’re leaning in this direction. (Don’t you just wonder how that came out in some translations?!)

Celebrate the Beauty of Diversity!

Most importantly, embrace the blog! Embrace this community for the very best reason it exists – so that we might experience one another’s cultures in a productive and engaging learning environment!

My most sincere appreciation to all of my new blogging friends who have shared so much of themselves with me these past couple of months!

In the languages in which I can actually say it & know the meaning, from the bottom of my Southern states heart…

Thanks!

Arigato!

Cheers!

Dank je!

Gracias!

Grazie!

Merci!

Salamat! (okay, I’m a little shaky on that last one, even if I have used it in return – or something close as I may have slandered it to pieces)

(Would love for you to add more to the collection – even if it’s a funny, personal colloquialism – by using the comments section!)

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One thought on “A Global Blogger’s Needs Assessment: In Honor of International Education Week

  1. Pingback: Snapshots of 2012 International Day at School [or when you've got more than one Country in your heart!]. « 3rdculturechildren

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