University of Southampton (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 8364-8370
ISBN: 978-84-09-08619-1
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2019.2081
Conference name: 13th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 11-13 March, 2019
Location: Valencia, Spain
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, hold the promise of democratising education and benefitting learners from diverse global backgrounds and cultures on a massive scale. We have carried out a systematic literature review on studies that researched cultural aspects in MOOCs. This review has confirmed the importance of cultural difference as a factor that influences global diverse learners in massive multicultural open online courses and impacts their expectations, perceptions and their whole learning experience. This report identified various types of research, different educational areas of research focus, the origins of MOOC platforms from the reviewed literature, the language of instruction used, and theoretical frameworks and models for mitigating cultural challenges. It investigated various approaches focussing on different levels of culture. In particular, the review distinguishes between studies which support Internationalisation of the course design, content and activities by providing a variety of options and services, as opposed to those which support localisation of MOOC courses for more personalised and culturally relevant learning experience.

Based on the results of this literature review, this paper provides future researchers with some recommendations and possible directions when conducting research on cultural issues in MOOCs.; A shifted focus towards mixed methodology approaches is suggested for better generalisation. Triangulation of data and methods in this interdisciplinary field is recommended to gain a deeper and wider understanding of MOOCs. It may be beneficial to investigate cultural differences over several platforms from different global origins and over multiple MOOC iterations. Researchers are encouraged to study cultural characteristics on an individual level, as learners are influenced to different degrees by their physical and virtual experiences.

Additionally, this paper presents an inventory of suggestions for the MOOC development team to consider when they are designing and delivering MOOC courses for a multicultural audience. The design of these courses should inherit cultural features by being dynamic and regularly updated and having flexible pathways and content. Furthermore, the courses can be considered as an assemblage point of new and diverse knowledge benefitting global learners on many levels.
Massive open online courses, MOOC, Multicultural, culture, cultural challenges, systematic, literature review.