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eGender: Gill Kirkup: Viewing the elearning landscape through the lens of gender

eGender: Gill Kirkup: Viewing the elearning landscape through the lens of gender



Gill Kirkup (Institute of Educational Technology Open University, Milton Keynes): ...

Gill Kirkup (Institute of Educational Technology Open University, Milton Keynes):
In Universities we are busy dealing with the impact of elearning tools and pedagogies on our students and our staff and our knowledge domains. We know that elearning can create opportunities; we worry that it also creates barriers. But who benefits and who is disadvantaged is not yet clear. In this new higher education landscape the complexities of gender can be overlooked because our attention is fully occupied with new structures, technologies, practices, markets, and too few resources. Women students, on the other hand, don’t cause us worry; overall they appear to be performing well. However, it is possible to lose the gender equality gains that have been achieved in the last thirty years in the complexities of change. In this lecture I will argue that the new elearning landscape needs to be examined through the lens of gender. I will review what is known about women’s access to, and use of the technologies of elearning, and relate this to what we know about gender and higher education. I will discuss how gender mainstreaming principles can be integrated into good practices in the design and delivery of elearning, to increase the opportunities for all.



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    eGender: Gill Kirkup: Viewing the elearning landscape through the lens of gender eGender: Gill Kirkup: Viewing the elearning landscape through the lens of gender Presentation Transcript

    • Viewing the e-learning landscape through the lens of gender Gill Kirkup, Deputy Director Institute of Educational Technology, Open University, UK URL http://iet.open.ac.uk/pp/g.e.kirkup/
    • Personal Introduction
      • Deputy Director (responsibility for taught courses) in particular an MA in Online and Distance Education.
      • Nearly 30 years as a distance educator combining research/practice in:
      • distance education and the use of media for learning
      • gendered media preferences in distance education
      • the relationship between gender and technology
      • specifically gender and information and communication technologies (ICTs)
      • developing courses for women
      • e-learning and gender issues
    • Overview of presentation
      • What might we mean by ‘gender’
      • What might we mean by ‘e-learning’ ?
      • What is gender mainstreaming-
        • and its tools and methodologies
      • What are the gender issues in e-learning?
        • Access to the technologies
        • Familiarity and confidence with the technologies
        • Interaction styles in social software (Web 2.0)
        • Educational use, preferred media and learning orientation
        • Gender relations and power
        • The shaping and production of knowledge (Web 2.0)
      • What are the gender mainstreaming activities for any e-learning implementation?
    • Harding’s four aspects of gender
      • A property of individuals
      • A relation between groups
      • A property of symbolic systems
      • A way of distributing scarce resources
      • There is a debate about how far feminist theory has ‘produced’ gender difference in identifying inequality.
      • Gender has not disappeared – or been transformed -online
    • Sometimes these four attributes are collapsed into TWO main ways of understanding sex /gender
      • 1. The sex gender system
        • ‘ a set of social relations between men which have a material base… that enables them to dominate women’ ( Mitchell)
        • Concern with the sexual division of labour, social divisions around sex/gender. ( traditionally the focus of Equal Opportunities or Gender mainstreaming)
      • 2. Gender identity
        • identity and subjectivity of a particular gender
        • Discourse (post-modern feminism is sometimes accused of collapsing everything into discourse)
        • Issues of embodiment
        • Performativity of gender ( Butler)
    • What might this mean for gender and learning?
      • Students are constantly re-defining themselves and performing ‘gender’ through the process of their learning and the construction of meaning
      • As teachers, researchers, and the invisible ‘back room’ technologists are part of this community, all engaged in constantly remaking ourselves, and our disciplines.
      • As teachers and educational designers we must develop activities using the tools of VLE to create active learning that acknowledges gender in a productive and respectful way?
    • E-learning defined by Wikipedia
      • An all-encompassing term generally used to refer to computer-enhanced learning, although it is often extended to include the use of mobile technologies such as PDAs and MP3 players. It may include the use of web-based teaching materials and hypermedia in general, multimedia CD-ROMs or web sites, discussion boards, collaborative software , e-mail, blogs, wikis, text chat , computer aided assessment, educational animation , simulations, games, learning management software, electronic voting systems and more, with possibly a combination of different methods being used.
      • It is also broader than the terms Online Learning or Online Education which generally refer to purely web-based learning. In cases where mobile technologies are used, the term M-learning has become more common.
      • E-learning is naturally suited to distance learning and flexible learning, but can also be used in conjunction with face-to-face teaching, in which case the term Blended learning is commonly used.
    • Gender Mainstreaming:
      • In July 1997, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) defined the concept of gender mainstreaming as follows:
      • "Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making the concerns and experiences of women as well as of men an integral part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal of mainstreaming is to achieve gender equality."
      • The term is now applied to systematic processes for policy and institutional audit and change.
    • The three-legged stool of mainstreaming – Booth and Bennet 2002
    • Tools for Gender Mainstreaming
      • 1. Gender disaggregated statistics:
      • Gender disaggregated statistics are a vital management tool for understanding the often different situations of women and men. All too often such data is not collected or collated.
      • It can often be entirely acceptable that one sex rather than another should benefit more from specific services or budgets, so long as this reflects evidence-based need, rather than being simply demand-led or worse, the consequence of chance or indirect discrimination.
      From: ‘Mainstreaming Equality’ UK Equal Opportunities Commission, 2003
    • Tools for Gender Mainstreaming
      • 2. Gender impact assessments
      • Should be made BEFORE a policy (or legislation) is implemented. It is designed to help policy makers understand the relative impact of the policy or practice upon men and women respectively, and address any adverse effects. Sometimes described as wearing a ‘gender lens’ or having a ‘gender reflex’.
      • It should focus on three questions:
        • representation (what is the gender distribution of relevant decision-making bodies?)
        • resources (what is the distribution of/access to resources for men and women?) and –
        • reality (do men and women profit from the measure? Who gets what, why and on what conditions?)
      From: ‘Mainstreaming Equality’ UK Equal Opportunities Commission, 2003
    • Tools for Gender Mainstreaming
      • 3. Equality indicators:
      • Raw data, even when disaggregated by gender, are limited in what they show without baseline statistics to set and measure performance targets. Equality indicators need to be developed for benchmarking purposes so that comparisons can be made over time or space. The identification of equality indicators should be an on-going process with new information about how gender inequalities are maintained enabling the development of new indicators and the refining of existing ones.
      From: ‘Mainstreaming Equality’ UK Equal Opportunities Commission, 2003
    • Tools for Gender Mainstreaming
      • 4. Monitoring, evaluating, auditing
      • Gender equality needs to be regarded as a performance indicator, and treated the same way for evaluation purposes as, say, balancing the books. It is thus essential to monitor the effectiveness of policy.
      From: ‘Mainstreaming Equality’ UK Equal Opportunities Commission, 2003
    • Tools for Gender Mainstreaming
      • 5. Gender balance in decision-making
      • A gender balance in decision-making is needed to address the democratic principle of gender mainstreaming. In the Research Directorate of the EC, there is a rule that all the scientific committees of the Directorate must have at least 40% of both genders.
      From: ‘Mainstreaming Equality’ UK Equal Opportunities Commission, 2003
    • Tools for Gender Mainstreaming
      • 6. Engendering budgets
      • Budgets can, and indeed, need to be ‘engendered’. It is legitimate to ask what proportion of public budgets in all areas, are spent on men and women, and girls and boys respectively.
      From: ‘Mainstreaming Equality’ UK Equal Opportunities Commission, 2003
    • Tools for Gender Mainstreaming
      • 7. ‘Visioning’
      • Visioning is at the heart of mainstreaming and requires the imaginative reconsideration of the use of resources, time, or public space, in gendered terms. The tools just described are designed to help with this process.
      From: ‘Mainstreaming Equality’ UK Equal Opportunities Commission, 2003
    • What are the gender issues in e-learning?
    • General access to the Internet and ICTs
      • In the developed world women and men have equal internet access. University students have the same ICT access and are familiar with all sorts of devices- mobile and wireless devices
      • Differential access has more to do with age, race and economic class than gender.
      • But men and women have different patterns of how they use the internet and what for.
      • Men spend more time online than women.
      • Women are enthusiastic online communicators and they use email more a more robust way.
      • More men than women perform online transactions – buying and selling.
      • Men pursue and consume information online more aggressively than women.
      • Men use the internet more than women for games, sports and hobbies.
      • Men are more interested in technology than women, have more confidence in their knowledge and technical skills.
      • Source: Deborah Fallows, How Women and Men Use the Internet. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project, December 28, 2005.
    • Familiarity and confidence with the technologies
      • Women are very small – and in some countries decreasing proportions of student studying ICTs – becoming expert with the technology
      • In households women access technology but don’t own it or chose it
      • There is a long tradition of women students being less confident them men with the technology even when they are performing similarly.
    • Interaction styles in social software
      • Gendered patterns of language use in computer mediated communication:
        • Women: attenuated language and positive socioemotional content
        • Men more authoritative language and negative socioemotional content.
      • Women engaging in emotional labour online
      • Blogging- as many women with blogs as men, but women more likely to be using blogs to keep in touch with people, and be relating personal experience. Men try to entertain.
      • Differential use of social software such as facebook and myspace- girls use for keeping in contact with friends boys for making new contacts and ‘flirting’- sexual behaviour
    • Educational use, preferred media and learning orientation
      • Student support issues|: women look for support and connectedness with others ( Kirkup – Price)
      • E-learning, he-learning, she-learning ( Selwyn)? -Women use computers and the internet more for study purposes than men-
      • Confidence with technology,
    • Gender relations and power
      • Classroom ambience and access to equipment gendered.
      • Effect of mixed and single sex groups- boys perform well on technical tasks when in groups with girls and girls perform poorly.
      • In CMC, language can maintain/produce power differentials
      • In email interactions men and women respond differently to people in different power
    • The shaping and production of knowledge (Web 2.0)
      • Second-life, and online networks and communities – extension of gendered behaviour ( myspace and Facebook use)
      • Gender difference in online interactions and language reproduce power differentials, which could produce gendered credibility and authority. ( Haraway ‘Modest witness’
    • How to
      • Bring sensitivity to these issues to Gender mainstreaming processes in your work?
    • How can you use the following mainstreaming tools in your e-learning policy and practices?
      • 1. Gender disaggregated statistics
      • 2. Gender impact assessments
      • 3. Equality indicators:
      • 4. Monitoring, evaluating, auditing
      • 5. Gender balance in decision-making
      • 6. Engendering budgets
      • 7. ‘Visioning’
      • ( See Checklist – hard copy)
    • End Thank you for spending your Friday afternoon engaging with the topic of gender and e-learning. Gill Kirkup