Developing Texts and Cubicle Courtesy

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF2 // The materials of the ODL system are accessible to a heterogeneous audience by virtue of their multimedia characteristics. The Internet, and all emerging media of communication have already destroyed existing motions of privacy and confidentiality. In our system, isolated learners are taught by equally isolated teachers! We need therefore to shed our ‘cubicle’ mindset-a cubicle gives the impression that since we cannot be seen, we are also not heard or identified. Our materials must pass the litmus test of being sensitive, sensitized and of course, academically sound. // Every medium of communication – from simple e-mails to elaborate multimedia presentationshas its own etiquette. Rather than merely transforming a printed text for educational purposes into a multimedia one, we can use the four cornerstones of success for every medium of communication – articulate expression, expertise, enthusiasm and audience-oriented delivery as our signposts. // The watershed period for the teaching/learning materials of the open system is now over and our best learners are now our most discerning critics. We have many lessons to learn from those who have been through the mill. For this, both verbal and non-verbal communication lines must be in place. // In this paper I have tried to draw lessons from some texts I have occasion to edit (from the disciplines of management, education, social sciences, pure sciences, humanities etc.), programmes and courses I have developed and or had exposure to. I have identified possible pitfalls in the path of effective communication with the ‘unreached and disadvantaged learner’. // Printed texts, prepared possibly by experts outside the ODL system need guidelines about sensitivity in the use of terms implying physical disability, ethnic, cultural, religious, national, racist and political diversity, in addition to maintaining gender sensitivity. Therefore we must have access to acceptable, accepted terms for ethnic groups, religious or national sensitivities for example in order to brief our academic associates as well. // It is critical therefore that we now develop a reference dictionary, parallel to the “Broadcasting Standards Councils of Britain”, or the “ITC Guidelines on music videos and program content”, or the UNESCO Guidelines on Gender-Neutral Language. // The via-media is to be attained interactively rather than prescriptively. Hence, I, propose as a first step, a questionnaire to be developed to provide the input for such a reference dictionary. I offer the scaffolding for such a questionnaire as Appendix 1. //