Accommodating Cultural Differences in Web-delivered Education Instructional Design for International

Accommodating Cultural Differences in Web-delivered Education Instructional Design for International

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Accommodating Cultural Differences in Web-delivered Education: Instructional Design for International Distance Learning Sonya Milly Condordia University (M.A. candidate, Educational Studies) Canada [email protected] Abstract: This paper argues that, in a global environment, no single pedagogical approach is comprehensive or versatile enough to meet the needs of learners globally. When instruction privileges Western values and educational practices it can create difficulties and ineffective learning situations for a large portion of the world’s population. The main questions guiding this paper are: What is the most effective teaching approach to use in socio-culturally- linguistically- and geographically-diverse virtual classrooms? And how can we adjust pedagogy to better accommodate cultural pluralism in web-based global settings? This paper begins with a discussion of distance education in the context of globalization. Then it presents a cultural critique of constructivist pedagogy to demonstrate that teaching paradigms are value-laden, rather than neutral, and hence problematic when applied in an international context. The paper concludes with some suggestions on how overcoming cultural difference in web-based learning can most effectively be achieved. Introduction This paper argues that, given the multicultural composition of contemporary societies, no single pedagogical approach is, in and of itself, sufficient to effectively meet the needs of learners globally. It also makes the case for the need to incorporate multiple teaching and learning approaches into the instructional design process of online distance education. For several decades, the constructivist approach to teaching and learning has been gaining influence in higher education and in the field of distance education. This paper examines the use of the constructivist approach for web-based instruction and its suitability in technology-mediated learning environments from a cross- cultural perspective. This examination reveals that the constructivist paradigm tends to favor Western values and educational practices. This leads to the suggestion that blended approaches to online teaching can better accommodate cultural pluralism as this promotes more equitable participation and successful learning outcomes in web-based settings for all learners. Distance Education in the Context of Globalization The internet provides individuals with greater access to teaching faculty and educational institutions as well as a wider choice of subject matter via online learning than was possible through earlier forms of distance education. The internet also offers institutions a viable and affordable alternative to earlier, more expensive educational technologies and a quicker way to develop and deliver distance education. Yet, despite the advantages of web-based learning, the increased use of the internet for educational purposes can be problematic. For instance, Wild (1999) suggests that “there is little guidance, and, virtually no empirical research, to determine the most appropriate ways of
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Accommodating Cultural Differences in Web-delivered Education Instructional Design for International

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