Uzuner (2009). Questions of Culture in Distance Learning: A Research Review.

Uzuner, S. (2009). Questions of Culture in Distance Learning: A Research Review. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(3). Retrieved from

[Definition …]

“… asynchronous learning networks (ALNs), networks for anytime and anywhere learning via computer communications technologies.” (p 1)

“… Goodfellow, Lea, Gonzalez, and Mason (2001) … found that these students’ unfamiliarity with the linguistic and academic culture of the UK negatively impacted their success and academic performance. … Shattuck (2005) … found that cultural differences hinder student’ communication and success in ALNs, causing them to experience feelings of isolation, alienation, and ‘dissonance out of conflict with the dominant educational culture’ (Shattuck, 2005, p. 186).” (p 5)

“… Tapanes, Smith, and White (2009) … found students from collectivistic cultures to be less motivated to participate in ALNs than those from individualistic cultures.” (p 7)

“… Smith and Smith (2000) concluded that culture does impact various national groups’ learning behavior in ALNs.” (p 7)

“Lim (2004) … findings supported Lim’s contention that cultural orientation influences national groups’ learning motivation in ALNs.” (p 7-8)

“… Gunawardena, Nolla, Wilson, Lopez-Islas, Ramirez-Angel, and Rosa (2001) … found strong evidence showing the influence of students’ national culture on their online learning behaviors.” (p 8)

“Selinger (2004) … provided support for Edmundson’s (2009) claim that ‘e-learning courses are cultural artifacts, embedded with the cultural values, preferences, characteristics, and nuances of the culture that designed them, and inherently creating challenges for learners from other cultures’ (p. 42).  … highlighted the importance of training local instructors so they can make a course that is developed in another country (predominantly in the US) culturally and pedagogically relevant to students in their local contexts.” (p 8-9)

“Chen, Hsu, and Caropreso (2006) … revealed culture-based differences in both groups’ [American and Taiwanese] online collaboration and communication patterns.” (p 10)

[On uncertainty avoidance …]

“To alleviate such student anxieties, online instructors should make their course structure transparent by setting clear expectations for participation, assignments, learning activities, team work, grading, submission dates, and assessment.” (p 11)

“… where active participation in discussions is highly valued, instructors should make specific efforts to  promote critique and divergence and encourage students to create a safe space …” (p 11)

“… the skills and experiences students bring to the distance learning environment are highly influenced by their cultural backgrounds.” (p 11)

“… social presence is the key for the success of students from context dependent cultures.” (p 11)

“… students from Asian cultures, who see instructors as authority figures, value teacher feedback more than peer feedback …” (p 12)

“… Shattuck (2005) found that ‘constructivist-based pedagogy couched in the highly interactive communication world can be a lonely place for an international online learner whose cultural experiences are different than the dominant educational cultures’ (p. 186).” (p 12)

“… questions of culture in ALNs among domestic diversity cultures. For example, what are the experiences of African American, Latino-American, and/or Asian-American students taking distance learning courses in the U.S.? … interaction between learners from dominant and diversity cultures …” (p 13)

[Need for research in other cultures]

“… the vast majority of research tends to surround Asian learners …” (p 13)

“… without paying attention to their individual differences. … Gunawardena et al. (2001) … ‘the fallacy of homogeneity (that terms such as `American` connote international sameness), or the fallacy of monolithic identity (the assumption that individuals in groups have no differential identities) (p. 117).'” (p 13)

Selected references

  • Al-Harthi, A. S. (2005). Distance higher education experiences of Arab Gulf students in the United States: A cultural perspective. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 6(3), 1-14.
  • Anakwe, U. P., & Christensen, E. W. (1999). Distance learning and cultural diversity: Potential users’ perspective. The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 7(3), 224-243.
  • Bates, T. (2001). International distance education: Cultural and ethical issues. Distance  Education, 22(1), 122-136.
  • Chen, A., Mashhadi, A., Ang, D., & Harkrider, N. (1999). Cultural issues in the design of  technology-enhanced learning systems. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30(3), 217-230.
  • Collis, B. (1999). Designing for differences: cultural issues in the design of WWW-based course-support sites. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30(3), 201-215.
  • Gunawardena, C. N., Nolla, A. C., Wilson, P. L., Lopez-Islas, J. R., Ramirez-Angel, N., &  Megchun-Alpizar, R. M. (2001). A cross-cultural study of group process and development in online conferences. Distance Education, 22(1), 85-121.
  • Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
  • McLoughlin, C. (1999). Culturally responsive technology use: Developing an online community of learners. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30(3), 231-243.
  • Rogers, P. C., Graham, C. R., & Mayes, C. T. (2007). Cultural competence and instructional  design: Exploration research into the delivery of online instruction cross-culturally. Educational Technology Research and Development, 55(2), 197-217.
  • Selinger, M. (2004). Cultural and pedagogical implications of a global e-learning programme.  Cambridge Journal of Education, 34(2), 223-239.
  • Tapanes, M. A., Smith, G. G., & White, J. A. (2009). Cultural diversity in online learning: A study of the perceived effects of dissonance in levels of individualism/collectivism and tolerance of ambiguity. The Internet and Higher Education, 12, 26-34.
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