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Cross cultural issues in VLE. Jef Van den Branden Educational Director EuroPACE Barcelona, 18 November 2000. Introduction. Our society: an information society exponential development of information due to ICT (Information and Communication Technologies)

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Cross cultural issues in VLE


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cross cultural issues in vle

Cross cultural issues in VLE

Jef Van den Branden

Educational Director EuroPACE

Barcelona, 18 November 2000

introduction
Introduction
  • Our society: an information society
    • exponential development of information due to ICT (Information and Communication Technologies)
    • “raplex” society due to exponential development of science and technology
  • Need for lifelong learning and ICT literacy
  • VLEs are valuable contributions to fulfilling these needs, but…
  • VLEs should not create new social exclusions
    • respect for cultural identity needed
    • respect for communication on equal terms needed—› includes use of one’s own language

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

overview
Overview
  • culture
    • definition: societies and culture
    • knowledge acquisition and culture
    • communication and culture
    • technology and culture
  • educational cultures
  • VLEs
    • characteristics
    • VLEs shaping culture and being shaped by (sub)cultures
    • VLEs and EU policies
  • Language and VLEs
    • language policy and the “lingua franca” solution
    • language management
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendations

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

societies and culture
Societies and culture
  • societies do not possess but are cultures (Huber, 1990; Bate, 1994)
    • culture ≠elitist concept of “Culture” (Art)
    • anthropological view : behavioural customs, manners, interests of a given community
    • sociological view: ways of thinking and acting acquired through participation in the life of a society
  • broad definition: philosophy, views, values, traditions, conventions, patterns of actions … typical for a specific society (community) and individuals (within such society)

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

knowledge acquisition and culture
Knowledge acquisition and culture
  • Knowledge acquisition is culturally embedded
    • West :
      • Pinxten & Farrer (1990): search for data, universal statements and universal truth
      • Chen (2000): a more mechanistic view on the world
      • Williams-Green (1997): value on individualism, independence, personal achievement
    • East:
      • Pinxten & Farrer: value on details, experiences, processes
      • Chen: a more holistic view (considering natural & human elements)
      • Williams-Green: holistic thinking, intuition, contemplation

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

communication and culture
Communication and culture
  • transfer and creation of culture based in communication

—› many (sub-) cultures / societies:

    • nation / region:Spanish - Catalan - Bask
    • hobbies: (amateur)artists - sportsmen
    • working environment: academic - disciplinary
    • activity: internet…
  • importance of “language” as communication vehicle; = “first language” (experiential / tacit) and = “second language” (language as a medium for translation of the first) ( Wittgenstein, 1953)

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

technology and culture
Technology and culture
  • Value of distance education vs. face-to-face education (Challis & Johnston, 1994)
    • faculty of education: basic concern = student-tutor relationship; belief:distance education inhibits the development of personal relationships with students thus creating limitations in the tutor’s abilities to broaden the student’s view of the world
    • faculty of engineering: basic concern = planning and coordination of the production of distance education; lack of personal contact identified as a problem to be solved
  • Attitude towards ICT-use (Van den Branden, 1995)
    • differences between North and South (Central/Eastern) Europe with respect to use and needed competence before using ict
    • gender differences: men’s attitude significantly more positive than women’s
  • The “frozen middle” in universities (CRE, 1996)

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

two educational cultures
Two educational cultures
  • engineering education vs. constructive learning (Waern, 1997)
    • engineering education: student’s learning is “engineered” by teacher
    • constructive learning: students construct their own knowledge from provided (or found) information
  • traditional education: more “engineered”
    • fixed curriculum, with emphasis on information transfer, convergent thinking, memory checks, authoritarian relationship between teacher and student
  • VLE: more constructive
    • flexible curriculum, with emphasis on problem solving, divergent thinking, evaluation of insight, democratic relationship between teacher and student

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

slide9
VLEs
  • specific society (ies):
    • virtual ‹—› physical
      • communication is mostly asynchronous—› verbal, written communication
      • informal style to compensate for the distance—› “language erosion” (cf. HaCkErS, Crackz)
      • communication language often not the native language—› understanding words ≠ understanding underlying concepts
    • often transregional, transnational
      • —› cultural differences (e.g. what is experienced as offensive ?)
      • —› differences in educational background and prior knowledge
    • emphasis on learning ‹—› teaching
  • cultural issues as problem or challenge ?

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

vles and culture
VLEs and culture
  • VLEs are shaping culture
    • new culture of communication
    • new pedagogy, influencing traditional LEs (from kindergarten to university and beyond)
    • new ways to and a culture of continuing (professional) training
    • new ways to and a culture of lifelong learning
    • creation of opportunities for globalization and citizenship
  • Cultures are influencing VLEs
    • different VLEs in various cultures ? (e.g. is Bonk’s model of starters and wrappers exportable outside US ?)
    • European multicultural environment and
      • distributed VLEs (“virtual student mobility”)
      • transnational accreditation
      • acceptability of “foreign” courseware and fee structures

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

vles and eu policies
VLEs and EU policies
  • EU is economical/political construct, hence target on globalization, with promotion of
    • Technology: IST (Information Society Technologies)-programme, with education & training frame on use of VLEs
    • European citizenship: mobility as a powerful tool (mobility of goods, services, labour, people, know how) —› ERASMUS, including virtual mobility schemes through VLEs = transnational VLEs
    • ICT (and “new pedagogy”) as tool for restructuring the university for the future
    • exporting models to other continents

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

vles and eu policies1
VLEs and EU policies
  • EU is multicultural
    • barrier for Transeuropean education (including VLEs)
    • asset for education (gaining motivation of learners, enriching contents, deepening educational research)
  • Europe of the regions
    • as an “imagined community“ (Anderson, 1993), EU is competing with older communities (nations, regions)—› “think global, be local”: EC and the subsidiarity principle
    • paradox or intermediate phase towards globalization ?

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

language and vles
Language and VLEs
  • language and culture
    • links between establishment of nations, language, communication channels and communication technology (e.g. publishers situated in leading “cultural” cities; English as the informatics language)
    • links between power, language, culture (e.g. colonialism; notion of “post-colonialism”)

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

language policy
Language policy
  • EU language policy vs. EU projects
    • EU policy: innovation in history of mankind (Fishman, 1993)
    • EU projects: mainly imposing the “lingua franca” language policy, with apparent problems
  • Lingua franca policy (Telescopia, 1995)
    • need for greater proficiency in English of all European citizens
    • connected to the use of image based communication
  • Consequences of a lingua franca approach in VLEs (Cammaert et.al.,1997) :
    • dominant position of native speakers in collaboration environments
    • problems with terms and expressions
    • misunderstanding and incomplete (especially oral) communication

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

language management
Language management
  • active policy based on negotiation and democratic decision making
  • consistently implemented in activities
  • managed to secure realization
  • various possibilities:
    • accepted monolingual solution
    • multilingual solutions (for specific activities or for all activities)
      • translation and interpretation
      • subtitling
      • mix of common language (common platform) and native language (local platform and learner support)
      • use of multilingual resources (eventually spread over common and local platform)

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

conclusion
Conclusion
  • VLEs fit in societal need for lifelong educated citizens
  • VLEs contribute to creation of European citizenship
  • Cultural and linguistic issues often considered as obstacles, but should be considered as assets and challenges
  • EU policies show possible direction: democratic decision making and equal treatment of all cultures and languages
  • EU policies should be mirrored in cultural and language management of VLEs
    • condition 1: EU support should aim at sustainable environments
    • condition 2: cultural and linguistic issues must be considered an integral part of the learning process
    • condition 3: cultural and linguistic issues must be managed like the learning process

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs

recommendations for eu
Recommendations for EU

1. Besides funding for projects: direct support for sustainable networks/activities (for continuity and management purposes)

2. Support for studies that develop pedagogy for online learning with focus on the management of cross cultural and linguistic issues in the framework of VLEs (e.g.transregional/transnational joint course and learning materials development, transnational - eventually joint -student support, transnational collaborative learning, layered approaches of learning platforms, etc.)

3. IST to invest in technologies for cost-effective localization, versioning, online translation (including subtitling of videoconferences)

4. E-learning initiative (and its spin offs in programmes) should pay explicit attention to cross cultural issues

Cross Cultural Issues in VLEs