Unit 4 Activity Impact of Digital Learning on Cross-Cultural Communication

 

image courtesy of John Schnobrish https://unsplash.com/photos/2FPjlAyMQTA

Barb, Eric and myself discussed the impact of digital learning on cross-cultural communication.  It was an interesting investigation that we have summarized here:

To see the google doc, click below. To read summary on this post see my not so pretty table (turns out google docs don’t nicely copy into workpress).

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1o_7KHaBgCLgOoYO0xkp6Fd8eD9NqQsFeh8-uNckV3kQ/copy

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).

 

How has digital learning impacted cross-cultural communications? Below is a breakdown of background information on this topic.  We have categorized impacts from the literature as positive or negative. 

 

Impact Reference Short Summary
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.

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.

[Taylor & Francis Online] , [Google Scholar] http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/ehost/detail/detail?vid=1&sid=51129fc1-1862-4619-a006-660314fcf0ca%40sdc-v-sessmgr01&bdata=#AN=21001282&db=aph

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: 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).  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: With carefully designed and intentional programs, which incorporate best practices, students can become more motivated and engaged.

Negative: This cross-cultural community building and curriculum development is not easily implemented in all areas of study. 

Kumi-Yeboah, A. (2018). Designing a cross-cultural collaborative online learning framework for online instructors. Online Learning, 22(4), 181-201. doi:10.24059/olj.v22i4.1520

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f262/56411ea94cf4af9a30277e499fa89173ec49.pdf

The key takeaways from this article are that success in online teaching and learning is enhanced when instructors take an intentional approach to including cross-cultural awareness in the curriculum and classroom. This should be done by; including a self-introduction or cultural awareness activity at the beginning of the course; consistently clear, concise, and adequate instructions and feedback are given; being available at all times to answer questions in online discussion forums; creating a caring online community; including culturally diverse content; allowing students to be flexible with choosing activities; using digital tools that promote communication. 
Positive: An overall satisfaction with digital tools and intercultural learning,and increased knowledge towards both their own and other culture

Negative:Overall cultural understanding was mostly superficial

Frustration when there is technological breakdown

Çiftçi, E. Y. (2016). A Review of Research on Intercultural Learning through Computer-Based Digital Technologies. Educational Technology & Society, 19 (2),313–327. The literature reviewed in this article indicated a general feeling of enjoyment in working with intercultural groups and increased motivation for pursuing study abroad.  Effective digital tools utilized  included blogs (build a sense of community) and to lesser degree email, chat and podcasts.

CMC (computer mediated communication) allowed people to reflect on both their own and target culture-contributed to becoming culturally competent “to a certain extent”. Overall cultural understanding was mostly superficial and fact based, but this study argued that people could build understanding from superficiality.

Positive: Digital age tools simplify the process of cross cultural communication. 

Negative: Online communication is not enough to build real trust between people. 

Lifintsev, D., & Wellbrock, W. (2019). Cross-cultural communication in the digital age. Estudos em Comunicação, 1(28), 93-104.https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Denys_Lifintsev/publication/333576410_Cross-ultural_communication_in_the_digital_age/links/5cf51b9b4585153c3daf5507/Cross-cultural-communication-in-the-digital-age.pdf For many people it is easier to deal with a representative of a different culture when they are not “face-to-face”, especially with language barriers. Online translators, autocorrecting etc. can make a person more confident during cross-cultural communication processes. 

Interesting point: This article states English is a “must-have” skill for both personal and business issues for people all over the world. This is an interesting statement as this study focused on sample countries where English is not the primary language.

Positive: Ability to learn online from any geographical location

Reduced cost/expense related to travel and student visas to attend on campus in other countries.

Negative: Pedagogical and course design mismatch with cultural expectations: 

Political Issues-Social media tools are restricted in some countries due to political reasons.  Students may only write positive posts due to fear of political reprisals for being critical.

Dennen, V. P., & Bong, J. (2018). Cross-cultural dialogues in an open online course: Navigating national and organizational cultural differences. TechTrends, 62(4), 383-392.  Expectations between individualistic and collectivist cultures for online learning are very different. For example, collectivist culture is familiar with instructivist learning (expect more lecture based) and did not expect peer interaction to be part of the learning experience. Individualist cultures focus on independent work and not necessarily on group work-which may be part of course design, therefore creating a mismatch of expectations.

Interesting Point:

Learners in online learning tended to lead with their national culture and identity which may lead to conflict with the instructor’s pedagogical approach.

Positive: Asynchronous discussion allows for reduction in misunderstandings caused by language barriers such as accents.

Synchronous communications allows for students “get to know each other much better thanks to the live interaction.”

Negative: Asynchronous communication is delayed and nuances of human interaction may be lost.

Synchronous can be difficult with various time zones

Cultural specific experiences in course content may not translate to an 

international study group

Xiaojing Liu, Shijuan Liu, Seung-hee Lee and Richard J. Magjuka Source: Journal of Educational Technology & Society , Vol. 13, No. 3, Innovations in Designing Mobile Learning Applications (July 2010),pp. 177-188 International Forum of Educational Technology & Society 

https://www.jstor.org/stable/jeductechsoci.13.3.177?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents 

Delayed text-based communication of an asynchronous discussion “is unable to convey the nuances of human interaction and, therefore, the students felt that it was difficult for them to figure out the intentions of the other students during group work due to their different working styles and cultures.”

Case bases content/studies in this course were US centric that other students could not relate to-diversity with cross cultural considerations are needed.

Negative: While enhancing communication between different demographics, ICTs sometimes exacerbate the disparity between people with different socioeconomic backgrounds. Resta, P., & Laferriere, T. (2015, 12). Digital Equity and Intercultural Education. Education and Information Technology:, 20, 743-756. Impoverished countries are left behind the digital trend due to impediments in both hardware and content. The underdevelopment of infrastructure, cost of hardware and software for individuals, and the linguistic barriers – the majority of public knowledge is published in English, which excluded non-English speaking minorities.

 

References

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.

Çiftçi, E. Y. (2016). A Review of Research on Intercultural Learning through Computer-Based Digital Technologies. Educational Technology & Society, 19 (2), 313–327.

Dennen, V. P., & Bong, J. (2018). Cross-cultural dialogues in an open online course: Navigating national and organizational cultural differences. TechTrends, 62(4), 383-392. 

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

Hofstede, G. (1991). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind. London: McGraw-Hill.

Kumi-Yeboah, A. (2018). Designing a cross-cultural collaborative online learning framework for online instructors. Online Learning, 22(4), 181-201. doi:10.24059/olj.v22i4.1520

Lifintsev, D., & Wellbrock, W. (2019). Cross-cultural communication in the digital age. Estudos em Comunicação, 1(28), 93-104.

Resta, P., & Laferriere, T. (2015, 12). Digital Equity and Intercultural Education. Education and Information Technology:, 20, 743-756.

Xiaojing Liu, Shijuan Liu, Seung-hee Lee and Richard J. Magjuka Source: Journal of Educational Technology & Society , Vol. 13, No. 3, Innovations in Designing Mobile Learning Applications (July 2010), pp. 177-188 International Forum of Educational Technology & Society 

 

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