Addressing Cultures in Online Teaching

Addressing Cultures in Online Teaching

Lesley S. J. Farmer (California State University Long Beach, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-791-3.ch015
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In online environments, identifying and addressing different cultures can be challenging, but differences exist as increasingly diverse student populations interact with resources and humans. Making cultural factors explicit can lead to deeper understanding; students can discover how culture informs knowledge. This chapter focuses on key elements of culture and online teaching: students, teachers, curriculum, and the learning environment. Each element interacts, and has cultural implications.
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Representative Cultures And Subcultures

Cultures are well-defined, sustained groups of people with common norms, expectations and values, which can be distinguished from other culture groups. Subcultures are more specialized groups that still belong to the larger group and its norm, but have more specific characteristics. For example, Latinos can be considered a culture, but Puerto Ricans differ significantly from Peruvians, and homeland Puerto Ricans differ from New York born Puerto Ricans (subculture within a subculture). Such differentiations are important to note because too often generalizations are made about a culture (or even mega-culture such as Asians), which have little validity on a subcultural level or case-by-case basis. One might use the analogy of food, such as “All Asian food uses soy sauce,” to demonstrate the feebleness of such generalizations. Particularly when a course has just one student of a certain culture, that student might be called upon to represent that entire culture, which can be a very frustrating – and sometimes condescending – experience for that individual.

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