CULTURAL DIMENSIONS OF E-LEARNING IN ISLAMIC COUNTRIES
Weill Cornell Medical College (QATAR)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Due to lower cost and convenience (anytime / anywhere) of the e-learning educational model, web-based education has grown substantially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region during the past 10 years. Several countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Israel, have progressed beyond the implementation stage of electronic learning technologies and are currently developing unique software and architecture and producing peer-reviewed scholarship on e-learning in international journals. A growing area of discussion involves the cultural dimensions of e-learning delivery systems, learning objects, and pedagogical philosophies. First, most learning objects are produced in western countries, so Arabic language materials are in short supply. Additionally, objects that are sensitive to the Islamic worldview are difficult to find. All education, even mathematics and the basic sciences, is culturally laden in the sense of the questions that are asked and the view of physical nature that underlie their paradigm of reality. Current e-learning pedagogical methods–for example, collaborative work, and personal ownership of knowledge–may conflict with traditional local educational methodologies based on passive learning (drill and memorization). Also, conservative Islamic states, primarily in the Arabian Gulf, maintain gender segregation in educational institutions up to and including the university level, and the online environment can challenge these social norms in an uncomfortable way.
Keywords: e-learning, Islamic world, cultural considerations.