It’s all about perspective

Father and daughter on a path in a forest

One of my dad’s sayings from my childhood was “always assume good intentions.”

Growing up as an avid reader with an active imagination, my father’s advice would prompt me to consider various circumstances and motivations that may cause others to act in ways that I didn’t initially understand. This approach has pervaded many aspects of my life since; it may be why I study Instructional design today.

Instruction is all about the learner. “The learner will be able to…” What do they need to do? How will they learn it? How will they show they can? You can’t answer these questions without taking into account the perspective of the learner, and there are usually many to include. This is one of the reasons UDL (Universal Design for Learning) is so valuable. It answers the question: what is best for each individual? Occasionally assumptions must be made about the learner, but only with consideration of their experience.

What issues have you avoided by considering different perspectives of your learners? It may be something as simple as using an example in a lesson that is relevant to the learners’ lives or choosing a video with closed captioning.

To give credit where credit is due, the same wise words from my dad are also from Rebecca J. Hogue at the beginning of every online course I’ve taken with her.

Comments 10

  1. Hello Elizabeth,
    Your post got me thinking! to answer your question I reflected back on the many years I spent as a part time trainer, where I trained on personal development and startup topics. What I learned to avoid is having any assumptions or expectations from the learners. What can seem common sense and basic knowledge for one person my not be for the other, especially with adult learners who are willing-fully choosing to learn just for their personal growth.
    I became aware of choosing terms that are common to all levels of education, age groups, and cultural backgrounds. Also when I have a diversified group, I like to use this to enrich the learning experience, I like to give the trainees time to tell their stories and hear others reflections on it, I found this helps a lot in building understanding among the group and resulting in a better learning experience.

    Best,
    Marwa Abduljawad

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      That is a great point about common sense- everyone has a unique background and what is familiar to some is not to others. Like you said, that goes for vocabulary too!

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post, and couldn’t agree more about considering learners’ perspectives. I’ve spent a lot of my career creating content for English language learners. In that context, considering the cultural and linguistic background and experience of learners is key to ensuring that that the broadest range of learners will be able to connect with the materials. In that context, it’s also important to consider the perspective of the teachers who will be using the materials in order to ensure that you provide sufficient supports for all teachers to make the most of them. Have you taken INSDSG646 on UDL?

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      Thanks! I’m glad you pointed out to not only take the learners’ backgrounds into consideration, but also those of the instructors.
      Yes, I took INSDSG646 last summer with Valerie Haven. It was an enlightening course. Have you as well?

  3. Cash counting is a basic skill required for a particular position in my current organization. Until very recently, we viewed this as a skill that most would come into the job with. However, we discovered that variances were occurring fairly often. To remedy this, we started implementing cash counting activities, using theatre cash, to give learners some hands on experience. In true UDL fashion, what was good for some ended up being good for all.

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  4. Your main image is so well suited to your themes of seeing things from more than one perspective, and finding a path through the forest for the learners by assessing their needs.
    I’ve seen so many projects get derailed by someone omitting to ask the right questions at the inception.

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