Cultural dimensions of learning: Addressing the challenges of multicultural instruction
Keywords:distance education, online learning, pedagogy, multicultural education
AbstractThe growing multicultural nature of education and training environments makes it critical that instructors and instructional designers, especially those working in online learning environments, develop skills to deliver culturally sensitive and culturally adaptive instruction. This article explores research into cultural differences to identify those dimensions of culture that are most likely to impact instructional situations. It presents these in the cultural dimensions of learning framework (CDLF), which describes a set of eight cultural parameters regarding social relationships, epistemological beliefs, and temporal perceptions, and illustrates their spectrums of variability as they might be exhibited in instructional situations. The article also explores the literature on instructional design and culture for guidelines on addressing the cross-cultural challenges faced by instructional providers. It suggests that these challenges can be overcome through increased awareness, culturally sensitive communication, modified instructional design processes, and efforts to accommodate the most critical cultural differences. Finally, it describes the use of the CDLF questionnaire as a tool to illuminate the range of preferences existing among learners and to discover the potential range of strategies and tactics that might be useful for a given set of learners.
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