Wang, Chun-Min & Reeves, (2007).Thomas. The Meaning of Culture in Online
Education. Chapter 1, The Meaning of Culture in Online Education: Implications for
Teaching, Learning, and
Design (pp. 1-17)
This chapter first explains why study culture is important in online education and state the problem to conduct a research on this topic. Culture issues are important in online education is owing to its global access. The ultimate problem of this kind of research is the definition of culture. The authors list several classical studies revealing the definition of culture and changes of research orientation through time. They tend to explain culture in terms of analyzing culture through different dimensions, including Geert Hofstede's five national culture dimensions and Edward Hall's high- and low- context cultures. They also found there is few studies investigating cultural issues in online learning and expect there will be more studies because of the urgent need that online education is getting more widely accepted. Several culture issues in online education were presented. For example, language differentials, reasoning patter differentials, technical infrastructure differentials, and learning styles differentials. Then this chapter discusses the pedagogical concerns of online education in a diverse culture context. Online education requires different pedagogies from traditional classrooms and thus investigations on pedagogies in different culture context are necessary. The authors focus on instructional design considerations and hope instructional designers and online education instructors to be sensitive and more research-based studies will be conducted.
Based on the authors literature review work, they proposed guidelines for building culturally- sensitive online learning environments for instructors, students, and designers through several empirical studies. Common principles among the three are to be flexible and hold multiple perspectives among the members of the online classrooms. However, there is a lack of holistic viewpoints in these studies even if they adopted the model of multiple cultural dimensions. As a consequence, the authors indicated the need to conducts studies that have thicker connection between cultural contexts and applications. In other words, to develop a theoretical framework of how new construction of knowledge occurs in this complex context. They also suggest having studies done across nations and adopting perspective from other disciplines may help.