THE IMPORTANCE OF CULTURE IN DESIGNING E-LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
1 National Design Academy, Nottingham (UNITED KINGDOM)
2 Royal Hospital of Oman (OMAN)
3 Freelance e-learning consultant (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:As more nations are developing economically, the world is becoming more multi-cultural. Online courses are being designed for these cultures across the planet, but are these online learning providers actually meeting the learning needs of these cultures? Different aspects of learning such as social presence, collaborative learning and cognitive skills are all impacted by culture, so course developers need to understand how to accommodate cultural differences and maintain an effective method of educating students online everywhere.
Developments in multi-media and internet technologies enable users to access learning materials ‘anytime and anywhere’ and it is this major advantage of e-learning which means that users from different countries and with different cultural backgrounds can study under the same system. This ‘globally accessible facility’ has brought forth cultural issues – the negative aspects of which researchers attempt to address.
In this paper, authors from the United Kingdom and Iran collaborate in order to examine and compare the cultural issues of e-learning systems. Successful learning between different cultures is difficult due to the various and controversial habits of perceiving, learning about, and understanding the world in regards to cultures. The paper explores the history of distance learning within the respective home nations of the authors, prior to a deeper examination of the cultural dimensions of each nation. To facilitate this examination the framework developed by Hall for the analysis of culture is adopted. Hall believes that culture can be identified in regards to three factors; context, time and space. In this paper we will adopt Hall's theory in order to define each nation's culture which are assumed to be important factors in the efficiency of an e-learning system. Finally, the paper explores the social, cultural and political advantages, disadvantages, and barriers to the implementation of e-learning within each nation.
This paper uses a critical analysis of the literature in order to highlight the major cultural issues in the context of e-learning. It will be of practical value to the instructional design community in the construction of new cross-cultural learning materials for multicultural classes. Similarly, this paper will also contribute to the academic community by raising awareness of the socio-cultural issues of e-learning.
Keywords: socio-cultural issues, multicultural classes, e-learning, United Kingdom, Iran.