Open and Distance Education/Cultural influences in online learning/Chapter Summary
Different theoretical frameworks can be used to analyze cultural differences that influence online learners. There are always limitations if we examine cultural differences under a single framework. There are relations between different theoretical perspectives that may help to fill in the gaps of each other, in order to help to analyze cultural differences more adequately. Hofstede's dimensions of national culture are helpful, as they make a significant contribution to locating regions in each cultural dimensions that will be advantageous for researchers and practitioners in many other fields. Combining those dimensions with the analysis of sub-cultural traits and cultural universals will be a more appropriate way to identify and define cultural differences. Besides, by explaining how students engage with the learning environment, i.e. course-instructor, tutors, and online discussion material, and other learners as well, Moore's TDT supports the idea that culture can be exchanged between online learners. By that engagement in a multicultural environment with learners from different backgrounds, cultural can be understood, learned and harmonized. Cultural adaption is another expected outcome of online learning.
Those aspects of cultural differentiation need to be taken into account for online learning contexts. Realizing cultural differences is essential for both online learners to prepare themselves for avoiding culture shocks, and educators to promote appropriate learner supports. It is well-acknowledged that learner support strategies which are suitable for an institution may not be applicable for other circumstances. However, trying to elaborate strategies to completely fit all learner cultural backgrounds will be an impossible and superfluous job for online providers. After all, cultural difference is also another interesting and indispensable element of online learning.