This post summarizes research and reflections on cultural dynamics in values and ethical standards related to education.

Several researchers have provided critical analysis of educational or pedagogical values across cultures (Bentley, Tinney & Chia, 2004; Ku, Pan, Tsai, Tao & Cornell, 2004; Loewer, 2003; Zhang, 2010). These analytical approaches often rely on literature review and reports of historical and current trends to frame characterizations of learning cultures defined by national, regional or tribal boundaries. Zhang (2010) defines learning culture as “historically-rooted attributes related to learning and education carried by an identifiable community. These cultural attributes are demonstrated as collective, intuitive understanding of what learning is about and how it should be practiced” (p. 232). In this body of literature, these learning culture characterizations are often offered to describe behaviors of learners and inform educational initiatives in these contexts or to advocate for resistance to the imposition of outside learning culture influences. In Young’s (2009) CBM model cultural beliefs and values are included as an element of the psychology of culture and defined as “the ideals, principles, or standards” that “evolved historically from the various social and economic contexts in a society” (p.235).  

Along with attention to culture in educational or pedagogical values, there is also a discussion in the instructional design field about the challenges of establishing ethical standards across cultures. There is consensus in this discussion that uniform rules for any online community should reflect a compromise and negotiated set of standards for that community (Bradshaw, Keller, & Chen, 2003; Dodig-Crnkovic & Horniak, 2006; Hergert, 2003; Marchessou, 2001). However, often this is not the case; rather rules are often established through power and to benefit those who are in power.  Bradshaw, Keller and Chen (2003) suggest that “the cultural and social-power position of the ethics code creators, within both local and global contexts, and the cultural distribution and representation of individuals charged with making decisions regarding ethical standards, are important factors in considering the applicability of a code of ethics to an international community” (p. 18). Bradshaw et al. frame their discussion of power relations with the term “cultural capital” which they define as “symbolic power based on a variety of factors related to social status and cultural ascendancy” (p. 15). Young’s (2009) CBM model includes attention to cultural capital as an element of the anthropology of culture but takes a more narrow view of this construct as part of the economics of a society or culture with a focus on production, distribution and consumption characteristics of a culture or target learner. 

Bentley, J.P.H., Tinney, M.V. & Chia, B.H. (2004) Intercultural Internet-Based Learning:
Know Your Audience and What It Values. Educational Technology Research & Development, 53(2), 117-127.
Bradshaw, A.C., Keller, C.O. & Chen C. (2003). Reflecting on ethics, ethical codes, and
relevance in an international instructional technology community. Tech Trends, 47(6) 12-18.
Dodig-Crnkovic, G. & Horniak, V. (2006). Togetherness and respect: Ethical concerns of privacy in global web societies. AI & Society, 20, 372-383.
Hergert, T. (2003) Consultant’s dilemmas: Trust, ethics, and effective practice across cultures. TechTrends, 47(6), 26-33.
Ku, H., Pan, C.,Tsai, M., Tao, Y. & Cornell, R.A. (2004) The impact of instructional technology interventions on Asian pedagogy. Educational Technology Research & Development, 52(1), 88-92.
Loewer, A. (2003). Preserving, restoring, integrating: Educational practices of the Yanomamo, Ojibway, and Aborigines in contemporary society. Educational Technology Research & Development, 51(2), 83-87.
Marchessou, F. (2001). Some ethical concerns in ed-tech consultancies across borders. Educational Technology Research & Development, 48(4), 110-114.
Young, P.A. (2009). Instructional design frameworks and intercultural models. Hershey, PA: IGI Global/Information Science Publishing.
Zhang, J. (2010). Technology-supported learning innovation in cultural contexts. Educational Technology Research and Development, 58, 229-243.