Cultural Diversity and Its Implications in Online Networked Learning Spaces

Cultural Diversity and Its Implications in Online Networked Learning Spaces

Aras Bozkurt (Anadolu University, Turkey), Müjgan Yazıcı (Anadolu University, Turkey) and İrem Erdem Aydın (Anadolu University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3076-3.ch004
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The open nature of online networked spaces enables diverse participation from all around the globe, raising cultural diversity as a paramount issue within the learning perspective. In this context, the purpose of this research is to examine participation and engagement patterns in online networked learning spaces in terms of cultural dimensions. The findings of this research have demonstrated that there is diversity in both time and space. The geographical distribution demonstrates that most of the participation originates from developed, Western, Anglo-Saxon cultures. Diversity in time creates its own loop, in which interactions were fed continuously and terms, such as day and night, sync and async have blurred borders. The English language is dominant over other languages and learners predominantly participate from those countries where English is spoken as a native or official language. In terms of cultural perspectives, the findings indicate that there is cultural dominancy as well as cultural diversity in online networked learning spaces.
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Purpose Of The Research

The main purpose of the research is to examine cultural diversity in networked online learning spaces. For this purpose, the research seeks answers to the following research questions:

  • How diverse are networked online learners in time and space?

  • How diverse are cultures in networked online spaces?


Literature Review

The definition of culture has many meanings and can be interpreted very broadly. It emerges and is shaped by the context in which it exists; thus, it is a complex and problematic concept to define (Gunawardena, Wilson and Nolla, 2003; Alabdullaziz, 2015). This research adopts the following definition: Culture is “the set of attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors shared by a group of people, but different for each individual, communicated from one generation to the next” (Matsumoto, 1996, p. 16).

Learners from around the globe with different cultural backgrounds use online networked spaces because of the wide availability and cost effectiveness of Information and Communication technologies (ICT) (Cakir, Bichelmeyer and Cagiltay, 2005). Empowered by developments in ICT, online networked practices become more pervasive and therefore cultural issues have become more important (Chang and Lim, 2002).

Culture is a powerful social construct (Boyacigiller et al., 2004) and it plays a large role in the development of human thoughts and behaviors (Salleh, 2005). It has the power to influence the way we receive information and the way we process it (Matsumoto, 1996). Moreover, culture and cultural differences has the power to influence the online teaching-learning process (Bates, 2001). It is also claimed that culture and learning are interwoven and inseparable (McLoughlin, 1999). Supporting this view, it has been suggested that participation in educational processes is also influenced by cultural differences (Che, Luo, Wang, and Meinel, 2016).

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