Wang, CM. & Reeves, TC (2007). The Meaning of Culture in Online Education: Implications for teaching, learning, and design. In A. Edmundson (Ed.) Globalizing e-learning cultural challenges(pp. 2-17). Hershey, PA: Information Science.
Wang & Reeves provide this chapter to review literature on the impact of culture in online education and consider implications for design and research. They assume most designers recognize the importance of cultural factors but emphasize the relatively small body of research in this area. They trace interdisciplinary definitions of culture back to the original provided by British anthropologist Sir Edward Tylor in 1871. They also provide a review of Hofstede’s oft-cited cultural dimensions, including criticism of his choice of nations as units for studying culture. They identify four threads of research on culture in online education: “(1) the interactions in an online course which involved culturally-diverse adult learners; (2) the access to the Internet among different groups; (3) the assessment criteria applied in online education; and (4) the design of virtual learning environments to accommodate the needs of culturally diverse learners. Finally, they advocate for future studies to include thick descriptions of culture: “Without profound narratives to make the cultural context of online education represented in these studies more concrete to both the researchers and practitioners, the applications of the studies in other situations are inevitably limited” (p.13).