Intercultural Awareness in E-Learning

Intercultural Awareness in E-Learning

Eunice Luyegu (Franklin University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-074-3.ch015

Abstract

Advancements in learning technologies have facilitated the creation of e-learning on both local and global scales. Culture has direct implications for e-learning. Cultural variation in e-learning audiences presents a tremendous opportunity to promote cultural awareness. Piers (2003) has noted that culture is the most important factor in the success of e-learning. Yet instructional designers find it challenging to design for diverse learner populations and educators are not taking advantage of opportunities to promote cultural awareness. Guidelines and strategies for designing culturally sensitive e-learning environments are well-documented and so is the use of technologies to promote intercultural awareness. This chapter focuses on three main areas: (1) the relationship between culture and e-learning, (2) the use of technologies to promote intercultural awareness, and (3) the design of culturally-accommodating e-learning environments.
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Culture And E-Learning

This section emerges from a belief that culture is a critical component of e-learning, and that culture is a function of a society’s values and norms. Culture is a concept discussed in a variety of disciplines. Through the years, there have been various definitions of culture (Giles & Middleton, 1999; Tylor, 1871). The definition of culture has been proposed in anthropology, sociology, and archaeology. Definitions of culture have originated in anthropology, ethnography, and social-political empowerment (Palaiologou, 2007). According to anthropological literature, culture is the “knowledge, belief, law, morals, and customs” that, within a particular group, are passed on from one generation to another (Tylor, 1871, p. 46). Hofstede and Hofstede (2005) define culture as “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others” (p. 4).

A comprehensive, interdisciplinary definition of culture, according to Scheel and Branch (1993) is:

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