The Impact of Digital Learning on Cross-Cultural Communication

Culture, as defined by Geert Hofstede, is “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.” (1991, p.5).

(Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash)

How has digital learning impacted cross-cultural communications? In collaboration with Eric Yu and Shelley Dougan, we investigated this question. Below is a breakdown of background information on this topic categorized from the literature as positive or negative.

Austin, R. 2006. The role of ICT in bridge‐building and social inclusion: Theory, policy and practice issues. European Journal of Teacher Education, 29: 145161.

A study of the use of telecommunications to link schools in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with the goal to use the “contact hypothesis”, to study how sustained interaction can improve the perceptions of each other and could be a model for international relations. The program was called Dissolving Boundaries. Teachers believed that cultural awareness was not impacted the most but the students believed the intercultural awareness was the most impactful.

Positive: Digital learning has resulted in increased cultural awareness, even among adversarial countries.Sustained interaction has improved relationships and understanding.  

Negative: Some findings suggested that negative perceptions can be strengthened if polarization and depersonalization occurs.


 Gómez-Rey, P., Barbera, E., & Fernández-Navarro, F. (2016). The Impact of Cultural Dimensions on Online Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 19 (4), 225–238

Directly links Hofstede’s 6 dimensions and how a dimension like Power Distance and a cultural perception of hierarchy affects autonomy levels, motivation, and initiative. The study used Power Distance, Individualism, Pragmatism, and Indulgence dimensions and compared American, Chinese, Spanish, and Mexican students.

Positive: Hofstede’s model can help to understand the motivation of online students and contribute to a more diverse instructional design.  The study found that online learning is more related to “open-minded” learning (p.232).

Digital Technology Map: V & R

Mapping out my digital activity was a bit of an eye-opener. Google is ubiquitous. If I’m curious about something I Google it (I certainly don’t “Bing” it). I included a separate section specifically for “searching” outside of Google because I search information in nearly every program or app but I’m also a creator of content using a variety of Google products. My social media presence tends to be more heavily concentrated on personal use, and depending on the platform, it will vary on the visitor/resident spectrum. This probably has more to do with my demographic and where I’ll find my social groups than the capability of the platform or my ability to use the platform. In building this tension pair I started by looking at my phone. My Google Pixel phone prompts me with the most used apps when I unlock it. Of the top 5 showing, 3 of them were tools I use to connect with others (messenger apps and Facebook) and the remaining two are search tools (Google Chrome and YouTube). The most eye-opening revelation was that the personal and professional lines are increasingly becoming blurred.

Virtual Symposium

Some fascinating presentations given in the virtual symposium. Dave Cormier’s presentation regarding Open Education and the varying levels of “open”.  That he coined the term MOOC and was on the groundfloor of open education left me a little awed. I teach Training and Development in our Business diploma and we spend a good deal of time looking at tech-enabled training and development. I have students develop a short lesson which they can then modify for an asynchronous, tech/online environment. It’s the chapter and assignment that I most look forward to because it allows the students to explore the curriculum in creative ways. YouTube has been used as the democratizer of learning. I’ve curated YouTube videos to complement my face-to-face instruction for a few years. YouTube, then, is the truest example of “open”education and learning.  I had been looked at Open through a very narrow lens and I’ve been nudged to start thinking about open education differently. I have to admit, after listening to this I did a bit of a deep dive and started following Dave Cormier on YouTube and I finally feel like I belong!

Opening Post

WordPress logo

This is your WebSpace powered by WordPress site. It will be the home for your journey through the MALAT program, and you can customize it to meet your needs and reflect your style.

Use these tutorials to learn more about customizing your WordPress site.

Navigating the Dashboard

Customizing the Appearance of your WebSpace


Creating Content, Pages and Posts

Security and Visibility, Restricting Access to your WebSpace

More WordPress Help

All WebSpaces powered by WordPress tutorials