Teaching Students in Mainland China: Factors for Consideration with Online Learning

Teaching Students in Mainland China: Factors for Consideration with Online Learning

William A. Sadera (Towson University, USA) and David Robinson (Towson University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-989-7.ch010


This case study examines the design, implementation and cultural challenges of delivering an online university course to a group of 21 Mainland Chinese educators. Culturally influenced challenges included: culturally different learning styles, inhibited online communication, and language issues. A mid-course survey and an end of the semester course evaluation tool provided anecdotal data to facilitate enacting solutions for the challenges presented in the design and delivery of the course.
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Setting The Stage

University Technical Infrastructure and Support

The University from which the course emanated mainly delivers courses in traditional face-to-face instructional environments. Some courses are delivered in a hybrid environment (defined by the University as some portion of a course is taught online instead of face-to-face), and a smaller portion of coursework is delivered 100% online. Although the University offers fully online courses and is in support of the design and implementation of more fully online courses, the University struggles to provide the technical infrastructure and resources needed to support these courses. The most significant issue was the lack of 24 hour phone support for the online learning environment, Blackboard Academic Suite (Blackboard, 2010). Blackboard inquiries and help requests were handled via e-mail requests to a staff of two full-time support specialists who work a traditional 9:00am to 5:00 pm workday. Most of the e-mail help requests were handled within 24 hours; although this is sufficient for campus-based courses, it is often not helpful for a student who needs immediate support, especially if they are a world away. Courses delivered in Asia are on a twelve hour time differential from the University. As the students in China were seeking support, the full time Blackboard administrators were not available. Students expressed frustration in not getting immediate support by either e-mail or phone. This disconnect led to a pattern of delayed e-mail correspondence between the Chinese students and the Blackboard help desk.

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