Kristen Lina Heaster-Ekholm

My research interests focus on the relationship between online learning and culture, with the goal of developing effective instructional design practices to meet the needs of diverse learners.


Before coming to CIE, I completed an M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology at California State University Fullerton that allowed me to become conversant with a large repertoire of educational technologies, provided insight into the benefits and challenges of online learning, and broadened my ability to think strategically about the interface between learning and technology. My master’s thesis focused on Universal Design for Learning and on how instructors can create accessible instructional materials.


While at CIE I published an article in the November 2020 issue of the International Journal of Education and Development using ICT that analyzes seven popular models and offers a series of recommendations that designers should follow to ensure that e-learning developed using these models is culturally inclusive.


My dissertation, titled “Ensuring Culturally Inclusive Online Learning for International Students: A Delphi Study to Identify Requisite Instructor Competencies” (link) looked at the role culture plays in learning and how instructors can create more culturally inclusive online learning environments. I am grateful to my committee members Dr. Cristine Smith (Chair), Dr. Torry Trust, and Dr. John Comings for their supervision and support."


After completing my doctorate, I plan to continue exploring the intersection of culture, pedagogy, and digital learning environments. I am currently working as a Senior Instructional Design Consultant, with the aim of championing human-centered, inclusive and relevant digital learning experiences for today’s global learners. [10-23]





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