Gunawardena, Wilson, & Nolla (2003). Culture and online education.

Gunawardena, C. N., Wilson, P. L., & Nolla, A. C. (2003). Culture and online education. In M. G. Moore & W. G. Anderson (Eds.), Handbook of distance education (pp. 753-775). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

“We borrow significantly from research conducted in the field of cross-cultural psychology, intercultural communication, and the emerging body of research on intercultural computer-mediated communication (CMC).” (p 753)

[Heading: “Definition of Culture” (p 753)]

“… According to Branch (1997), ‘Culture is regarded as the epistemology, philosophy, observed traditions, and patterns of action by individuals and human groups’ (p. 38). More than this static definition, however, are the concepts that culture is constantly changing and that individuals belong to more than one culture, some voluntarily and some involuntarily. Not only is culture an abstract concept of self and group, ‘it also consists of a distinctive symbol system together with artifacts that capture and codify the important and common experiences of a group’ (Wild, 1999, p. 198). Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1998) explained that the essence of culture is not what is visible on the surface, and Hall (1998) added that ‘culture hides much more than it reveals and, strangely enough, what it hides, it hides most effectively from its own participants’ (p. 59). Hall (1998) distinguished between manifest culture (which is learned from words and numbers) and tacit-acquired culture (which is not verbal but is highly situational and operates according to rules that are not in awareness, not learned in the usual sense but acquired in the process of growing up or simply being in different environments). If culture is diverse, changing, and concrete as well as abstract, the implications for its potential impact on communication at a distance become increasingly complex.” (p 753-754)

“For the purpose of this chapter, we would like to adopt the definition of culture put forward by Matsumoto (1996), who perceived culture as: ‘the set of attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors shared by a group of people, but different for each individual, communicated from one generation to the next’ (p. 16).” (p 754)

“As Rogers and Steinfatt (1999) observed, not only do nationalities and ethnic groups have cultures, but so do communities, organizations, and other systems. In the online environment, we are increasingly observing the emergence of networked learning communities, or ‘cybercommunities’ bound by areas of interest, transcending time and space (Jones, 1995, 1997). These communities develop their own conventions for interaction and for what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior online (Baym, 1995).” (p 754)

[Heading: “Theoretical Dimensions Of Cultural Variability” (p 754)]

“Despite criticisms of Hofstede’s dimensions … Ross and Faulkner (1998) recognized that Hofstede’s work has made a valuable contribution to intercultural understanding, ‘Providing insight into what culture is in and of itself’ (p. 39). Hofstede’s model is one of very few empirically supported frameworks that attempt to explain interpersonal phenomena and communication in terms of observed cross-cultural differences (Barret, Drummond, & Sahay 1996; Bochner & Hesketh, 1994; Cifuentes & Murphy, 2000; Fernandez, Carlson, Stepina, & Nicholson, 1997; Merritt, 2000).” (p 756)

[Heading: “Toward A More Comprehensive View Of Cultural Variability” (p 756)]

[Discussion about ‘circularity,’ ‘between-ness,’ and other aspects comparing Western and Eastern values and how these can affect one’s view of culture. (p. 756-757)]

[On cultural variability…]

“In this regard it is worthwhile to consider the model developed by Shaw and Barrett-Power (1998), which provided a detailed and precise mapping

of the elements that constitute cultural differences …” (p 757)

[Discussion about “readily detectable” cultural attributes and two categories of underlying, hidden cultural attributes. (p 757)]

[Heading: “Culture And Cognitive Processes” (p 757)]

“Vygotsky (1962, 1978) believed that it is difficult to understand individual cognitive development without reference to the social and cultural context within which such development is embedded.” (p 758)

“Cross-cultural research on visual perception has shown how culture influences perception.” (p 758)

“Chen and Starosta (1998) … also note that the influence of culture on perception is often reflected in the attributional process. Attribution means that we interpret the meaning of other’s [sic] behaviors based on our past experience or history.” (p 758)

[Ishii (1985) recounts Shigehiko Toyama’s description of how “Anglo-Americans think in ‘line’ while Japanese think in ‘dots’.” Stepping stones and bridges. (p 759)]

“Language … represents a different way of thinking as well as a different way of speaking, and cognition is mediated and influenced by language (Gudykunst & Asante, 1989; Pincas, 2001).” (p 759)

“The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis postulates that language shapes our thinking, beliefs, and attitudes.” (p 759) [See Whorf, 1998]

“He [Matsumoto, 1996] further observed that there is a substantial base of cross-cultural research in the areas of gaze and visual attention, interpersonal space, and gestures, to inform us of how culture influences these aspects of the communication process.” (p 760)

[Heading: “Culture And Communication In The Online Environment” (p 760)]

[Heading: “Culture And The Diffusion Of Technological Innovations” (p 762)]

“… Rogers (1995) … ‘An important factor regarding the adoption rate of an innovation is its compatibility with the values, beliefs, and past experiences of individuals in the social system’ (p. 4).” (p 762)

[Reference to Bates (2001) and “three models of international online distance education.” (p 762)]

“A study by Anakwe, Kessler, and Christensen (1999) examined the impact of cultural differences based on the concepts of individualism and collectivism on potential users’ receptivity toward distance learning …” (p 763)

[Heading: “Culture And The Online Teaching Learning Process” (p 763)]

“Drawing on the work of Henderson (1996) and Reeves (1992), Collis (1999) discusses factors that might differ among different cultures in interactive technology-based teaching and learning.” (p 763) [Followed by examples/listing of various factors. (p 763-764)]

[Heading: “Culture And Instructional Design” (p 764)]

“Dunn and Griggs (1995) … stated that instructors need to be aware of three critical factors: (1) universal principles of learning do exist, (2) culture influences both the learning process and its outcomes, and (3) each individual has unique learning style preferences that affect his or her potential for achievement.” (p 764)

“Chen, Mashhadi, Ang, and Harkrider (1999) stated, ‘Technology appears to make everything transparent, whilst, in fact it is conveying and shaping both private and public understanding’ (p. 221).” (p 765)

“McLoughlin (1999) … This is characterized by a design paradigm, which endorses multiple cultural realities or zones of development. Essentially, this approach is a form of ‘eclectic paradigm,’ which entails designing learning resources that allow variability and flexibility while enabling students to learn through interaction with materials that reflect multiple cultural values and perspectives, include multiple ways of learning and teaching, and promote equity of learning outcomes by combining mainstream and nonmainstream cultural interests.” (p 766)

“… Gunawardena et al. (2001) conducted a research study … Country differences, rather than age and gender differences, accounted for the differences observed. … Focus group participants identified several factors that influence online group process and development: (1) language, (2) power distance, (3) gender differences, (4) collectivist versus individualist tendencies, (5) conflict, (6) social presence, (7) time frame, and (8) technical skills.” (p 766)

[Heading: “Designing For Cultural Differences In Online Courses: A Proposed Framework” (p 767)]

[heading: “Research Issues And Recommendations For Future Research” (p 770)

“Our review of the literature has indicated little published research on the cultural aspects of online learning and teaching, a view borne out by some of the authors who have begun research in this area (Branch, 1997; Chen, 2000; Goodfellow et al., 2001; Wild, 1999).” (p 770)

“Bhawuk and Triandis (1996) … Emics focus on ‘the native’s point of view’; etics focus on the cross-cultural scientist’s point of view. … Bhawuk and Triandis note that similarities between cultures must be established before their differences can be studied, because if a framework of universal constructs is not observed, it is impossible to distinguish a cultural difference from a misperception of the methods. A related methodological issue in the study of cultures is the level of analysis. For example, correlations obtained from individual-level data may not always replicate correlations obtained when cultures or nations are used as the units of observation.” (p 771)

Selected References

  • Anakwe. U, P,. Kessler, E. H .. & Christensen, E. W. (1999, July). Distance learning and cultural diversity: Potential users’ perspective. The International Journal of Organizational Analysis. 7(3), 224-243.
  • Bates, T. (2001). International distance education: Cultural and ethical issues. Distance Education, 22(1), 122-136.
  • Baym, N. K. (1995). The emergence of community in computer-mediated communication. In S. G. Jones (Ed.). Cybersociety (pp. 138-163). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Bhawuk, D. P. S., & Triandis, H. C. (1996). The role of culture theory in the study of culture and intercultural training. In D. Landis and R. S. Bhagat (Eds.), Handbook of intercultural training (2nd ed.) (pp. 17-34). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Branch. R. M. (1997, March-April). Educational technology frameworks that facilitate culturally pluralistic instruction. Educational Technology. 38-40.
  • Chen. A-Y., Mashhadi. A., Ang, D., & Harkrider, N. (1999). Cultural issues in the design of technology-enhanced learning systems. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30, 217-230.
  • Chen, G. M., & Starosta, W. J. (1998) Foundations of intercultural communication. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
  • Collis. B. (J 999). Designing for differences: Cultural issues in the design of the WWW-based course-support sites. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30(3). 201-215.
  • Dunn, R., & Griggs, S. A. (1995). Multiculturalism and learning style: Teaching and counselling adolescents. Westport, CT: Praeger.
  • Gunawardena, C. N., Nolla, A. C., Wilson, P. L., López-Islas, J. R., Ramírez-Angel, N., & Megchun-Alpízar, R. M. (2001). A cross-cultural study of group process and development in online conferences. Distance Education, 22(1), 122-136.
  • Hall, E. T (1966). The hidden dimension. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
  • Hall, E. T. (1976). Beyond culture. Garden City. NY: Doubleday.
  • Hall, E. T. (1998). The power of hidden differences. In M. J. Bennett (Ed.), Basic concepts of intercultural communication: Selected readings (pp. 53-67). Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.
  • Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Ishii, S. (1985). Thought patterns as modes of rhetoric: The United States and Japan. In L. A. Samovar and R. E. Porter (Eds.), Intercultural communication: A reader (4th ed.) (pp 97-102). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Jones, S. G. (1995). Cybersociety: Computer-mediated communication and community, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Jones, S. G. (Ed.). (1997). Virtual culture: Identity and communication in cybersociety. London: Sage.
  • Marcus, A., & Gould, E. W. (2000). Cultural dimensions and global web user-interface design: What? So what? Now what?
  • Matsumoto, D. (1996). Culture and psychology. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.
  • McLoughlin, C. (1999). Culturally responsive technology use: Developing an on-line community of learners. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30, 231-243.
  • Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th ed.). New York: The Free Press.
  • Rogers, E. M., & Steinfatt, T. M. (1999). Intercultural communication. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
  • Ross, R., & Faulkner, S. (1998). Hofstede’s dimensions: An examination and critical analysis. In K. S. Sitaram and M. Prosser (Eds.), Civic discourse: Multiculturalism, cultural diversity, and global communication (pp. 31-40). Stanford, CT: Ablex Publishing Co.
  • Shaw, J. B., & Barrett-Power, E. (1998). The effects of diversity on small work group process and performance. Human Relations. 5(10), 1307-1325.
  • Trompenaars, F., & Hampden-Turner, C. (1998). Riding the waves of culture: Understanding diversity in global business (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Vygotsky, L S. (1978) Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Whorf, B. L. (I998). Science and linguistics. In M. J. Bennett (Ed.), Basic concepts of intercultural communication: Selected Readings (pp. 85-95). Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.
  • Wild, M. (1999). Editorial, British Journal of Educational Technology, 30(3), 195-199.
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