When Cultures Meet in Blended Learning: What Literature Tells Us

When Cultures Meet in Blended Learning: What Literature Tells Us

Chun Hu (University of Sydney, Australia)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-852-9.ch014
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This chapter presents a literature review of the blended learning projects that involved learners from different cultures. The studies reviewed essentially addressed two issues: the feasibility of cross-cultural blended learning and leaner differences in such a learning environment. While the studies overwhelmingly reported the benefits of using the Internet to create opportunities for students to learn with peers from other cultures, they also highlighted issues of cultural impact on learner behaviors. Learner differences reported included approaches to asking questions, collaborating with others and preferences in the way they made use of technologies. Patterns emerged from the review, implying some design considerations for planning cross-cultural blended learning. It seems that successful cross-cultural blended learning programs need committed teaching teams who make decisions on curriculum choices, learning tasks and assessments, and which technology tools to use; and who skillfully handle issues of language barriers, project management, and preparation of learners.
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For the purpose of the discussion, a definition by Osguthorpe and Graham (2003) on blended learning is adopted. The purpose of “blended learning approach is to find a harmonious balance between online access to knowledge and face-to-face human interaction” (p. 228). Blends of blended learning may involve the mixing of online and face-to-face learning activities, student or instructors with a number of goals including pedagogical richness, access to knowledge, and social interaction (p. 231). Blended learning share a similar component with distance learning, i.e. information and communication technology. Distance learning, according to the U.S. Department of Educational Research and Improvement, is “the application of telecommunications and electronic devices which enable students and learners to receive instruction from some distant location” (Bruder, 1989, p. 30). However, blended learning is not the same as distance learning and does not have a vital element of Keegan’s (1988) definition of distance learning, i.e. “the quasi-permanent separation between teacher and student throughout the length of the learning process” (p. 10).

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