External publication No
Means Edulearn Proceedings
Scope Proceedings Paper
Nature Científica
Publication date 01/01/2015
ISI 000376685701041
Abstract Diversity and competitiveness characterize modern societies and higher education institutions are merely witnesses of this new reality. The absence of geographical barriers and the competitiveness of the current labour market has framed online learning as a way of lifelong learning. In this context, the study of the online learning success factors has been a priority for distance education researchers and practitioners. Additionally, cultural issues can influence the online learning success factors. Considering the above two issues, this study has investigated student perceptions of the main online learning success factors and linked the findings to a cultural framework, in particular, to the Hofstede model. The Spanish, US, Chinese and Mexican cultures were studied by gathering data from four distance education universities. Specifically, the cases of the Open University of Catalonia in Spain, the University of New Mexico in the US, the University of Peking in China and the Autonomous Popular University of the State of Puebla in Mexico are studied. Variables were organized in two subgroups: a first subgroup with factors for assessing several tools that the university offers students to help them in their academic performance (called the institutional dimension) and a second subgroup with variables that summarize what students receive from their online learning experience (called the outcome dimension). The institutional dimension comprised the following indicators: learner support, social presence, instruction, learning platform, interaction, content and course design while the outcome dimension was defined according to the following three indicators: learner satisfaction, knowledge acquisition and ability to transfer. Multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) was implemented with the goal of determining the online success factors in the four universities considered and the most discriminant variables of the MCA analysis were correlated to the Hofstede cultural framework. This methodology is adopted because the variables to be explored are categorical instead of quantitative. Besides, the MCA method allows authors to explore the correlation between qualitative variable categories and the universities. Thus, the MCA is used to characterize the different elements involved in the learning experience as a whole. The following findings were extracted: Firstly, the online students pay more attention to institutional variables (specifically, the course design, learning content and degree to which a instructor seems to be concerned about the learners\' needs) rather than instruction variables (namely, the degree of effectiveness of a instructor\'s teaching strategies and instructor interaction). Secondly, that the chinese and mexican online universities still tend to have a behavioural flavour while the Spanish and US ones have a more constructivist approach. The learning satisfaction variable and the individualism dimension of the Hofstede framework are indicators of this apprehension to the behavioural behaviour. Finally, learning satisfaction and ability to transfer are highly correlated in online environments as online students are satisfied if they acquire useful knowledge and are able to transfer that knowledge in their lives. For that reason, metacognitive practices should be included in the curriculum. These findings will allow online universities to improve the quality of their teaching, and to deliver culturally sensitive education.
Keywords Hofstede cultural framework; distance learning; learning sucess factors; multiple correspondence analysis
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