Designing for Immediacy and Culture

Designing for Immediacy and Culture

Michele M. Hampton (Cuyahoga Community College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3120-3.ch002
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Abstract

Immediacy represents the psychological distance experienced by individuals who are remotely located. Interaction between students, instructors, and content are tied to increased immediacy. Verbal and nonverbal communication behaviors underpin immediacy and creating a sense of community among online course participants. Culture is a critical component that determines how students communicate verbally and nonverbally. Recognizing student differences and similarities can be a powerful community builder. Designing online courses that promote cultural openness and understanding is an essential piece of the learning landscape. Rather than viewing culture as something to avoid, culture should be viewed as an immediacy, community, and learning enabler.
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Background

Members of a culture function from a shared unconscious which forms the foundation of their values, norms, and beliefs. Including cultural diversity to scaffold and influence the learning experience is more powerful and valuable than ignoring its impact. Students are central to their learning and designing classes that exploit their strengths is critical to good instructional design. Online courses must bring technology, pedagogy, learning theories, and social theories to bear to maintain student engagement and provide a positive learning experience. Exceptional instructional design takes into account the various ways students respond to content and community through the lens of culture.

Something as simple as saying hello becomes complicated when viewed from a cultural perspective. Different cultures have different communication norms both in text and nonverbal expressions (Gunawardena, 2013). Norms govern socially appropriate and desirable behaviors. In an online classroom, those behaviors include etiquette when communicating with virtual classmates and feedback to instructors. Table 1 illustrates how varied and wide-reaching the impact of culture can be when communicating a simple greeting such as “Hello”.

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