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World Views and Online Curriculum

The concept of worldviews and how they impact education, leadership, and all aspects of our daily lives is a compelling topic to be explored. According to Valk (2011), world views are multiple ways of knowing and acting and reinforce one's view of reality and what we perceive as right. Before considering others' world views, it is important to examine my own so that I can better understand the lens through which I approach the world. I am an educated white woman living in a town that is also predominantly educated whites. According to the 2019 Census, 93.1 percent of the population in New Hampshire is white. Interestingly, when I moved here a decade ago, I failed to notice! It was not until my niece, a girl of color, asked "Where are the black people?" The answer mattered less than the fact that I did not notice and that I likely would not have if she had not asked the question. Valk (2011), states that worldviews shift over time and that particular day was eye-opening to me.

In my work, understanding worldviews are critical. First, I am the Head of School and Program Manager for an organization that provides online education globally around the world. Technology has opened the door to cross-cultural education. Our students are located on 5 continents and come from a wide variety of diverse backgrounds. When working with them, their schools, and their parents, I often need to consider if I am subconsciously applying my own worldviews to their experiences, needs, etc. Is my worldview impacting our communications, my expectations of them, or the instruction itself?

I have been teaching online adjunct French courses for community colleges for 15 years. I develop the curricula, provide asynchronous instruction, and assessment. While these students are slightly more diverse than the communities of New Hampshire, I would not describe them as culturally diverse. Over the years, I have started to think about modifying the curricula and approaches to be more inclusive, but I certainly have not mastered that quite yet. I have a new assignment that is very interesting but also a challenge. I accepted another online adjunct role for a college in South Carolina. I know nothing about the college, the community, or the state. It was a shock to me during our first class when I realized that all 30 students are of color. (I think black, but I should not assume.) This has literally never happened to me before. I did not know how to react or if I should react at all? I was initially uncomfortable but the very idea of being uncomfortable surprised and disappointed me. But I am highly interested and motivated to not only understand their world views but also to unpack my own beliefs! I am using this experience to further understand how worldviews (mine and others) impact the course and help define me as a leader.

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