Challenges of LMS Implementation in a Multi-Cultural Context

Challenges of LMS Implementation in a Multi-Cultural Context

Ross Ian Vance (Lee University, USA) and Beth Crawford (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3930-0.ch005
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Abstract

Utilization of a learning management system (LMS) to deploy web-based learning content creates opportunities to cross cultural boarders and distribute education on a global scale. However, cultural norms, language development, and the cultural diffusion of technology create barriers to the global growth of an LMS. In order to overcome these barriers successfully, instructional designers must use various strategies to work with international teams effectively, and create a virtual learning environment that meets educational goals that are mindful of the diversity present in cultural context. In this chapter, we explore the design, communication, and technology that challenge the development of LMS-based instruction in varied cultures. In the conclusion, we suggest best business practices for navigating these challenges in cross-cultural implementation.
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Introduction

Throughout literature and historical experience, terms denoting the ability to create virtual learning vary by industry and region. Such terms include e-learning, online learning, web-based education, virtual learning environment, and distance education; all of which can be used interchangeably depending on the context. Allison Rossett (2001) defines the concept of e-learning as a connection between the learner and educational content facilitated by hardware, software, or both. Some, but certainly not all, carry deeper connotations of utilizing a global network, mainly the Internet. According to Wang et al (2004), content delivered over the Internet, intranet, or connected network enhances learning through the ability to integrate audio/video and other integrated elements through a collaboration of hardware, software, and personnel. Hardware and software aside, learning in a web-based environment requires an intermediary application to facilitate the organization and transference of information, often described as a Learning Management System. Ellis (2009) defines an LMS by categorizing its main functions into administration, documentation, evaluation, tracking, and reporting of educational material over the Internet.

As the saturation of Internet users has increased, the utilization of LMS-based education has grown substantially both in the U.S. and abroad (Nagel, 2010). The research firm Ambient Insight published a worldwide market forecast and analysis report for 2010-2015, which stated that North America is the largest consumer of e-learning products, a market driven primarily by higher education (Adkins, 2011). As the Global economy and world population evolve, Asia is forecasted to surpass North America by 2014. Further, as online learning opportunities become more widespread, many countries are leaning toward more web-based educational models (Nagel, 2010) in both higher education and organizational training.

A Global progression into the utilization of LMS-based instruction has its challenges. Despite rapid advancement in technology and a worldwide growth in Internet usage, the perception of usefulness and ease, and the acceptance of technology is not universal among all cultures. However, the economic advantages have led both and commercial organizations around the world to seek the benefits of online learning (Vance, 2012). Despite the ability of learning management systems to deliver online learning experiences to both industries, a varied cultural context can create challenges for the successful deployment of an LMS. At its foundation, e-learning requires design, communication, and technology, three things that differ greatly from culture to culture. Further, one must navigate these differences to create a virtual learning environment that meets educational goals in a cultural context. In this chapter, we explore the design, communication, and technology challenges to the development of LMS-based instruction in varied cultures. We address each construct by examining the literature, personal experiences, and building a theoretical framework of best business practices.

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