Cross-Cultural Issues for Asian e-Learners An Analysis Based on Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions

Cross-Cultural Issues for Asian e-Learners An Analysis Based on Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions

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Cross-Cultural Issues for Asian e-Learners: An Analysis Based on Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Judith B. Strother, Ph.D. Humanities and Communication Department Florida Institute of Technology United States strother@fit.edu Abstract: When instruction is to be delivered by any medium, whether in a traditional e-learning mode or through the use of a blended learning model, cross-cultural issues have a major impact. This paper focuses on the cultural characteristics of Asian e-learners and uses Hofstede’s cultural dimensions as the basis for the analysis. Asian learners face some clearly identified challenges. For example, in a typical classroom, where interactivity is the norm, an Asian learner may have a difficult time overcoming his or her traditional role as a respectful listener. In a blended learning environment, Asian learners may need to adapt to the concept of computer-aided instruction or learning online while they face the challenges of learning how to cope in a classroom situation that may be quite different from what they are used to. Introduction When designing or implementing any e-learning program, whether traditional or some form of blended learning, consideration of the cultural elements is crucial for educational institutions or professional training organizations. Cultures differ in how they view the learning environment: Interpersonal transactions, classroom structure, learner attitudes, and learning activities (Powell 1997). Learners within different cultures react differently to both positive and negative feedback, competition, authority figures, and gender differences (Thiagarajan, 1988). Some corporations and training institutions are aware of the linguistic problems that could arise in their e-learning products and thus consider translation issues – costs included – of websites and training materials. Often, too much of the focus is on the Information Technology issues. While those are certainly critical in the field of e-learning, the consideration of character sets supported by a particular operating system and expansion of text due to translation problems are not the only issues. Some of these organizations simply don’t give enough consideration to the culture and mores, usage and tone of their content. E-learning across the globe introduces more variables and more potential problems than targeting the content and message to a local audience you know well. “Language and localization may reach your bottom line fast, but ignore culture and you’ll sink from the weight of the world. Since you face a large enough challenge asking people to attempt something new, try your hardest not to offend them along the way” (Conner 2000). Some e-learning program developers try to improve their products through some form of localization (see,
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Cross-Cultural Issues for Asian e-Learners An Analysis Based on Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions

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