Bray (2005). Culture – The “error of omission” in online distance education.

Bray, E. (2005). Culture – The “error of omission” in online distance education. Yokkaichi University Journal of Environmental and Information Sciences, 91(1), 69-80.

“… assumptions about effective practice in online distance education (mainly developed in Western counties) may turn out to be faulty when applied in educational contexts where learners from other cultural backgrounds study.” (p 69)

“Educational contexts and environments can evolve rendering previously sound educational approaches outmoded and ineffective.” (p 69)

“By ‘culture’ I am speaking of patterns of behavior and the values that groups share.” (p 71)

[Discussion about national cultural homogeneity vs diversity and subcultures. (p 71)]

“Edward Hall (1976) observed that an interesting feature of culture is that people are often unaware of the core assumptions of their own culture. … we cannot just ask people to tell us about their culture …” (p 71)

“… cultural attributes form a normal distribution with a particular population. Hence, we can avoid stereotyping by keeping in mind that individual

members of a cultural group will differ.” (p 73)

[Heading: “Assumptions about access” (p 73)]

[Heading: “Assumptions about interface usability” (p 74)]

“… differences in alignment (rightlleft orientation), contrast, proximity and repetition.” (p 74)

“Rhetorical style … credibility …” (p 74)

[Heading: “Assumptions about roles of teachers and students teacher’s role” (p 74)]

“The student/teacher role pairing is one of the primary role relationship structures in human societies … Patterns of interaction between these role pairs is conditioned by culture …” (p 74)

“… teacher presence …” (p 75)

“… give clear directions and be available for questions … teacher immediacy …” (p 75)

[Heading: “Assumptions about student roles” (p 76)]

“… explain to students how to best benefit from the online learning environment. … teachers also may have to adjust their expectations for the student role …” (p 77)

[Heading: “Assumptions about the learning process and curriculum” (p 76)]

“… how we view learning is shaped by how we view knowledge itself.” (p 77)

Selected references

  • Hall, E. (1976) Beyond Culture. New York: Doubleday
  • Henderson L (1996) Instructional design of interactive multimedia: a cultural critique. Education Technology Research and Development. 44(4) 85-104
  • Trompenaars, F. & Hampden-Turner, C. (1998) Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Diversity in Global Business. New York: McGraw Hill
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