Incorporating Cultural Components into the Design of an Affective Support Tool for the Malaysian Online Distance Learners

Incorporating Cultural Components into the Design of an Affective Support Tool for the Malaysian Online Distance Learners

Nor Aziah Alias (Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-989-7.ch001

Abstract

For the purpose of this case, culture is defined according to the UNESCO Universal Declaration of Cultural Diversity (2001) as the “set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs”. Online learners and online distance learners are used interchangeably to denote learners who study online with no or minimal face to face interaction. The chapter will be organized in the following manner. A description of the cultural issues surrounding Malaysian online distance learning will be highlighted to provide a comprehensive picture of the problem in hand. The initiative to alleviate the problem will then be described in detail followed by a discussion of initial evaluation findings.
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Setting The Stage

The general profile of the university’s adult online distance learners presented in this case is built from a number of research reports and interviews with the administrators of the various programs. Typically, the online distance learner is a 25 to 35 year-old with a monthly income of RM 1200- 2000 (current monetary parallel to $300 – 500 USD). Males make up a higher percentage of those pursuing degree level programs. In terms of race and religion, they are commonly Malays and Muslims. Basically, they seek further education to improve their academic status in order to secure a better job or advancement in their careers. Most students study on weekends with a more rigorous study schedule when examinations approach. They depend heavily on the self-instructional materials and monthly seminars.

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