Cultural considerations in online education
MetadataShow full item record
More and more higher education institutions in the United States are offering fully online courses or blended courses with significant online components. As a result, many international students who came far away from their homeland now end up taking online courses in the United States. This ironic situation creates an interesting issue which is related to cultural, linguistic, and technological aspects in online learning environments. Although researchers have tried to identify various frameworks to understand this issue, there is a lack of data-based research regarding cultural issues in online learning environments. What is needed is not only a refined theoretical framework to understand the phenomenon, but also empirical studies to describe and address cultural issues in online education. This dissertation reports the findings of one such study, involving Taiwanese students who represent the sixth largest international student group in the United States. How this particular subset of international students thinks about the online courses offered by US schools and what challenges they encounter during their online learning are interesting and important questions to explore. This study adopted a mixed-methods design in which an online survey and interviews were used to collect data from Taiwanese students around the United States. A total of 140 participants from 56 different universities completed the online survey, and 16 of them participated in the follow-up interview. The survey and interview data were analyzed using several relevant conceptual frameworks to categorize the factors that influence Taiwanese international students’ online learning experiences. Based on the findings of the study, it is clear that the educational system in Taiwan has a great impact on Taiwanese international students’ opinions about online courses in the USA. These factors along with the variety of technologies used and the instructional design applied in the online courses are the dominant influences on Taiwanese international students’ various online learning experiences. The complex interactions among these factors were discussed in this study. The analysis yielded a set of pedagogical strategies and evaluation criteria that can be applied to the challenge of enhancing online courses for Taiwanese students in particular, and all other students as well.