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Cross-Cultural Comparisons of Online Collaboration
Kyong-Jee Kim and Curtis J. Bonk
- Previous Research
- Benefits of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning
- Cultural Issues in Computer-Mediated Communication and Interaction
- Schemes for Analyzing Online Collaborative Behaviors
- Background of the Study
- Summary of Postings per Conference
- Cross-cultural Exchanges among Students
- Overall Online Collaborative Behaviors
- Cross-Cultural Comparisons of Online Collaborative Behaviors
- Results of Qualitative Discourse Analysis
- Difference in Social Interaction Behaviors Across Cultures
- Language Barriers and Intercultural Communication
- About the Authors
AbstractThis study investigated two interconnected conferences formed by students and instructors from two different cultures—Finland and the United States—to discuss case situations or problems in school observations,in order to examine cross-cultural differences in online collaborative behaviors among undergraduate preservice teachers. A conference for Korean students in the following semester was added and analyzed for more diverse cross-cultural comparisons. In terms of the first part of this study, computer log data indicated that there were more cross-cultural postings in the Finnish conference by U.S. students than Finnish visitors within the U.S. conference. In addition, student postings made up nearly 80 percent of these discussions. Qualitative content analyses of computer transcripts were conducted to compare their collaborative behaviors with the conferences. Results revealed some cross-cultural differences in the participants’ online collaborative behaviors. Korean students were more social and contextually driven online, Finnish students were more group-focused as well as reflective and, at times, theoretically driven, and U.S. students more action-oriented and pragmatic in seeking results or giving solutions. The U.S. and Finnish students spent much time sharing knowledge and resources and also providing cross-cultural feedback. Findings indicate that instructors who facilitate online collaboration among multicultural students need to be aware of cultural differences in the learners’ online collaborative behaviors, and such differences need to be taken into account to foster online collaboration among culturally diverse learners. Some data from post-collaboration questionnaires, student interviews, and videoconferencing further informed these findings.
IntroductionAdvances in computer and information technologies are altering the way education and training is delivered. Distance education in American institutions of higher educatinis becoming global in terms of its diverse student population due to the flexible delivery system of online learning (Jarvis, 1999; Mason, 1998). Accordingly, globalization and the cultural diversity of learners have become major issues in planning, designing, and delivering online learning (Chute & Shatzer, 1995; McIsaac & Gunawardena, 1996).
With the use of networked computers as an instructional delivery system, computer conferencing is increasingly the means by which “learners actively construct knowledge by formulating ideas into words that are shared with and built upon through the reactions and responses of others” (Harasim, Hiltz, Teles, & Turoff, 1995, p.4). From the sociocultural perspective of learning, social interaction and discourse lead to student cognitive development and higher mental functioning (Vygotsky, 1978; Wertsch, 1991). In effect, learning is a social phenomenon where students acquire competence when interacting with peers and adults in a learning community (Bonk & Wisher, 2000).
Research suggests that collaborative learning has the potential to foster interaction and social support lacking in traditional learning environments and that the nature of computer conferencing—its capacity to support interaction between and among learners and instructors—fosters a collaborative approach to learning (Bonk & King, 1999). The opportunity for “reflective interaction” (Harasim, 1989, p.52) can be encouraged and supported in collaborative learning, which is a feature not readily demanded in traditional university lecture settings. Since the cognitive benefits claimed for collaborative learning must be mediated by the verbal exchanges among learners, an important component of online collaboration is the discussion that occurs during task engagement (Pressley & McCormick, 1995).
In addition to fostering collaboration and social interaction, global networking of students through computer conferencing tools has the potential to enhance student perspective-taking (Bonk, Appelman, & Hay, 1996) and to elevate the level of case discussion and perceived learning relevancy (Bonk, Hara, Dennen, Malikowski, & Supplee, 2000). For instance, postsecondary students might share observations about internships or field experiences while experts or practitioners guide such discussion. The goal, in effect, is to foster students’ critical thinking and perspective taking ability. According to some scholars, the enhancement of student social cognition, in fact, should be a primary goal of education (Bonk, 1990). There are several recent examples where online or virtual environments have been shown to do this (Bonk & King, 1998; Bonk & Sugar, 1998).
Given the benefits of shared experience and co-construction of knowledge with peers from diverse perspectives through multicultural interactions, numerous attempts have been made to provide multicultural collaboration experience for preservice teachers. Although positive reactions have been reported from such experiences, learning through multicultural collaboration seems no easy task. International collaboration adds new dimensions to student teamwork, requiring students to handle collaboration that is remote, cross-cultural, and linguistically challenging (Daniels, Berglund, & Petre, 1999).
Culture plays an important role in cognitive development of learners through social interaction and discourse. From the socio-cultural view of learning, our perception of reality is a product of socio-cultural process and all knowledge is socially mediated, which is grounded in culture (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Vygotsky, 1978; Wertsch, 1991). Accordingly, cultural dimensions of learning need to be adequately addressed in designing and delivering instruction (McLoughlin, 1999; Thomas, Mitchell, & Joseph, 2002), which is an issue particularly relevant to fostering collaborative learning among culturally diverse learners. Therefore, a growing body of knowledge of cultural issues in computer-supported collaborative learning is needed to inform us of how to foster online collaboration among multicultural learners.
This study investigates online collaborative behaviors among preservice teachers from three different cultures. The purpose of the study is to ferret out how their collaborative behaviors are different across cultures and its implications for designing and facilitating online collaboration among culturally diverse learners. Cultural differences in their online collaborative behaviors are discussed based on the perspectives from intercultural communication and computer-mediated communication. The key research questions of this study are as follows: 1. Are there differences in learners' online collaborative behaviors across cultures? If so, how are they different? 2. How do learners feel about the international collaboration experience? 3. What are the implications of such cross-cultural differences for designing and facilitating collaborative learning among culturally diverse learners?
Previous ResearchPrevious studies have revealed that learners with varied cultural styles bring different cultural patterns and prior experiences to face-to-face classroom learning (Murphy, 1996) and some studies have been done on online interactions in the cultural context. Also, as detailed by Bonk and Wisher (2000), recent studies have been undertaken on benefits of computer-supported collaborative learning and ways to measure or evaluate interactions in online environments. Some of the key findings are detailed below.
Benefits of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning
Research indicates that interactions among students foster their learning (Hackman & Walker, 1990, Lauillard, 1993; Moore, 1993; Ramsden, 1992). However, there is a question about whether this belief is justified in the case of online learning environments because of an absence of non-verbal cues when the interactions are mediated, which makes it a very limited mode for what should be semantically rich exchange (Curtis & Lawson, 2001).
Previous studies seem to support the benefits of computer-supported collaborative learning. Groups using electronic brainstorming tools often generate more unique ideas and ideas of a higher quality than verbal groups without such support (Valacich, Paranka, George, & Nunamaker, 1993). Also, less dominant individuals tend to participate more in computer-mediated tasks than face-to-face tasks (Citera, 1998), and online discussion brings in more equal participation among second or foreign language students than face-to-face discussion (Warschauer, 1996). Warschauer (1997) hypothesized that there is less time pressure and fewer social cues, nonverbal cues, and chances for intimidation in online settings than in face-to-face situations. He also argued that online collaborative learning using e-mail allows for more in-depth analysis and critical reflection, since e-mail can be answered more deliberately than synchronous messages. Similarly, Bonk, Hansen, Grabner-Hagen, Lazar, and Mirabelli (1998) found that asynchronous conferencing is the preferable method for fostering in-depth student online discussion and rich interactions of case situations in teacher education, whereas synchronous conferencing of similar cases generates greater student postings but less reflection and critical analysis. In effect, the synchronous postings are much less conceptually oriented.
Cultural Issues in Computer-Mediated Communication and Interaction
Learners from different cultures seem to exhibit different patterns in their online interactions with their teachers or peers. Freedman and Liu (1996) studied American middle school students who corresponded electronically with culturally dissimilar students. Their findings suggest that students of different ethnic backgrounds may have different learning processes, i.e., the Asian American students tended to ask fewer questions from either teachers or students, were less likely to use trial-and-error or experimental methods in their work processes, and they were more hesitant to being watched when working with computers than their non-Asian American counterparts. Freedman and Liu (1996) also found that the Asian American and the non-Asian American students showed different communication patterns. Asian American students preferred using e-mail to other computer uses and they worked cooperatively in groups when using e-mail, often helping each other compose messages and doing other students’ computer work.
Similarly, Liang and McQueen (1999) compared interaction patterns among Asian and Western adult learners who participated in a Web-based interactive learning via e-mail. They found that the learners from Asian and Western cultures differed in their expectations about the role of tutors and their learning styles. Thus, most of the Asian students had been tutor-oriented learners in their native countries and tended to rely heavily on direction from their teachers even in the interactive online learning environment. In contrast, most of the Western students tended to be peer-oriented learners who believed that more interactions among students should be encouraged. Accordingly, Liang and McQueen (1999) posit that the e-mail interactive learning style is most welcomed by the Western peer-oriented learners, but is also accepted by the Asian tutor-oriented learners if this approach is seen to assist with their learning.
Some studies have revealed that online learners use different communication styles across cultures. For instance, in a study of college students from Denmark and the U.S. who collaborated via electronic mail, Bannon (1995) found that the Danish students tended to be rather reserved in terms of social communication, while Americans were more expressive of their thoughts. In another case, Iivonen, Sonnenwald, Parma, and Poole-Kober (1998) studied Finnish and American college students who collaborated online in a common course. Their study revealed that American students posted more messages to the electronic discussion group than the Finns. They argued that their findings reflect the cultural difference in spoken and unspoken languages between Finns and Americans; i.e., Finns tend to keep silent and not to speak too much, whereas the silence is not habitual with most Americans.
In a study of Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese students enrolled in an American community college, Warschauer (1996) found tendencies toward unequal participation across cultures in face-to-face and electronic discussion. His study revealed that in face-to-face discussions Filipino students tended to dominate discussions and the other students, especially the Japanese, spoke much less. However, he also found that the discrepancy in participation across cultures was lower in online discussions—for instance, Japanese students showed more active participation in online discussions than in face-to-face discussions. Warschauer (1996) argues that cultural factors (i.e., Japanese students are socialized to listen quietly, rather than to speak up) and the lack of oral communication practice prohibited Japanese students from participating in face-to-face discussions. Accordingly, he further claims that Japanese students might be reluctant to participate actively in face-to-face discussions, but they will participate more readily in electronic discussions.
Schemes for Analyzing Online Collaborative Behaviors
As online collaborative learning proliferates, there is a need for evaluation and instructional frameworks that will help researchers, educators, and policymakers evaluate students’ online collaboration. In a review of research methodologies in online collaborative environments, Bonk and Wisher (2000) detailed numerous frameworks for evaluating computer-supported collaborative learning. These frameworks address student online construction of knowledge, social interactions, and critical thinking. One of them is Walther (1996)’s three-level matrix to measure the aspects of interactions in computer-mediated communications, namely impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction. Using this three-level matrix, Kang (1998) found evidence of interpersonality in computer-mediated communications among Korean students in a class that combined live and online approaches to instruction (i.e., one week of live instruction was alternated with two weeks of electronic conferencing). As would be expected, semester-long electronic partnerships appeared to foster greater shared understandings and concerns than briefer experiences. She noted that the influence of collaborative technologies on student interactions and learning was likely dependent on task assignment, grouping structures, and the longevity of the experience.
Another example is Bonk and Kim’s (1998) evaluation framework that details twelve forms of electronic learning mentoring and assistance to analyze online instructors' interaction styles, such as social (and cognitive) acknowledgement, questioning, direct instruction, modeling/examples. Research indicates that some of these forms of assistance are more prevalent than others, e.g. questioning, feedback, and social acknowledgements (Bonk, Angeli, Malikowski, & Supplee, 2001; Bonk & King, 1998). Questions remain whether teachers and students can be trained to utilize different forms of online assistance effectively that could have a positive impact on student learning and collaboration. In addition, there is a pressing need to understand cross-cultural differences in the forms of online assistance instructors and peers provide and appear to require.
In yet another scheme, Newman, Webb, and Cochrane (1995) developed indicators of critical thinking for online discourse to measure the extent to which computer conferencing environments promote students’ critical thinking. Based upon this evaluation framework, they conducted a study comparing the depths of students’ critical thinking in face-to-face seminars and computer conferences. Although they found evidence for critical thinking in both settings, critical thinking was deeper in the computer conferencing environment (Newman, Johnson, Cochrane, & Webb, 1996).
Curtis and Lawson (2001) developed a coding scheme to analyze behaviors of students associated with collaborative learning activities, and identified their online interactions (see Appendix). In this coding scheme, contributions made by group members are analyzed for utterances indicative of the behaviors identified by experts as necessary for successful collaborative learning in face-to-face situations (see Johnson & Johnson, 1996 for details). As detailed below, this latter coding scheme was utilized in the present study.
Background of the StudyThis study is composed of two parts. The first part of this study examined asynchronous Web-based conferencing among undergraduate preservice teachers in two Finnish universities and an American university that took place during the spring of 1998. They were enrolled in an undergraduate level educational psychology class in their respective schools and had participated in an early field experience prior to or during that particular class. During about a ten-week span in their classes, these students participated as part of their class activities in Web-based conferencing to post and discuss case situations—both problems and successes—seen in schools during their early field observations.
Their cases were posted using an asynchronous Web-based conferencing tool called COW (i.e., “Conferencing on the Web”). All the COW participants accessed the same homepage and logged on with their user name and password to participate in the conferencing. Once they logged on, they could see the list of all the active discussion groups, which are referred to as conferences in COW, and they could engage in a case discussion by clicking on the title of the conference in which they wanted to participate. Since each student belonged to a conference group that was set up according to their nationality (e.g. Finnish conference group, U.S. conference group), culturally distinctive groups were formed within COW. However, since they were able to log into other conferences as well, they were able to read and post messages not only in their own conference but also in other conferences, giving them the opportunity to experience the similarities and differences in educational issues in other countries. Refer to Bonk et al. (1998), and Bonk et al. (in press) for more a more detailed account of the COW tool and associated case discussion activity.
A case-based learning approach was employed to foster student’s learning through COW. In this instructional method, learners actively participate in analyzing, discussing, and solving real problems in a specific field of inquiry, making learning relevant and meaningful to the learner (Flynn & Klein, 2001). In particular, online cased-based learning for preservice teachers has benefits of reducing the relative isolation of student teachers during their early field experiences, while focusing them on authentic problems prior to teaching (Bonk et al., 2001; Bonk, Daytner, Daytner, Dennen, & Malikowski, 2001).
In this conferencing, students were given a structured task to create two cases during the semester and respond to 6-8 cases of comments of their peers during the semester. Topics were selected based on the instructor’s perceived needs, as well as records of topic cases and discussions from previous semesters (e.g., motivation, classroom management, and teacher bias). Under each topic, an individual or a group of students posted cases of their own choice relevant to their early field experience and initiated case discussion. The typical case discussion usually lasted throughout the semester and the student who initiated it was asked to summarize the discussions on the case near the end of the semester.
Most cases were school-related problems that the students had seen in their early field experiences which they attempted to link to concepts and ideas from their undergraduate textbooks (e.g., educational psychology). Naturally, most postings centered on problems observed in their respective schools (e.g., poor teaching, student apathy, limited classroom resources, student drug use, etc.). Some issues were dealt with on a theoretical ground (e.g., learner-centered instruction, constructivism), and in some cases specific situations were shared in pursuit of practical solutions to the problems that the students had faced during their early field experience.
In a case-based learning approach, the instructor assumes the role as a tutor, guide, coach, or facilitator (Flynn & Klein, 2001). In COW, instructors, graduate students, and a few practicing teachers provided case feedback and served as mentors. The mentors participated not only in their own conference but also in other conferences to give feedback and guidance on case discussion, e.g., Finnish students received feedback from both American and Finnish mentors on their case discussions. A framework of electronic learning mentoring and assistance by Bonk and Kim (1998) was used as guidance for mentoring case discussion.
The second part of the study examined the same conferencing activity among undergraduate preservice teachers from a Korean university during the fall of 1998. They participated in the COW conferencing in the same manner as the Finnish and U.S. students did in the previous semester as described above. While students from Korean, U.S., and Finnish universities participated in the Fall, 1998 case discussions, only the designated Korean conference was analyzed here.
MethodologySample and Data Sources
Transcripts of two COW conferences, one formed by the students and instructors in two Finnish universities and the other formed by the students and instructors in an American university in the spring of 1998, were examined in the first part of this study. In terms of conference participants, there were 30 students and 5 instructors in the Finland conference, and 88 students and 7 instructors (3 classroom instructors, 2 graduate student mentors, and 2 practicing teachers) were in the U.S. conference (see Table 1). In addition, the data from a post-collaboration questionnaire and a videoconference between Finnish and U.S. students on the COW case activity were examined.
Conferences Finland U.S Conference Totals Instructors 5 7 12 Students 30 88 118 Total 35 95 130
Summary of participants in Finland and U.S. conferences.
In the second part of this study, a conference formed by the instructor and students from a Korean university was analyzed. This conference was part of a larger conference between preservice teachers from Finland, the U.S., and Korea, which was held in the fall of 1998. One instructor and 21 students participated in this Korean conference.
Hard copies of all the transcripts from the three conferences under investigation were prepared and analyzed. Descriptive data on all the messages posted in those conferences were obtained through computer log analyses and reports. In addition, messages posted in those conferences were analyzed using the Curtis and Lawson coding scheme, which was designed to describe utterances in online collaboration (see Appendix). All the categories that exist in the Curtis and Lawson coding scheme were employed in the present study. The investigators pilot-tested the Curtis and Lawson coding scheme with sample transcripts to see if it was suited to this study, and to become familiar with the coding scheme. After conducting the pilot test, the investigators concluded that all of the categories in the coding scheme fit the purpose of analyzing learners’ collaborative behaviors in the online setting; hence, no modification was made to the Curtis and Lawson coding scheme in this study.
Codes were assigned to utterances (mostly phrases or incomplete sentences) that were indicative of collaborative behaviors. More than one coding category was assigned to a message where there was more than one utterance that reflected collaborative behavior. The coding category was, however, mutually exclusive – i.e., only one category was assigned to an utterance. Three individuals coded data for this discourse analysis. Before coding the data, the investigators discussed and reached consensus on the definition of each code based on the descriptions and examples presented in Curtis and Lawson (2001). Afterwards, each conference was coded by one of the investigators, except the U.S. conference, which was coded by two investigators due to the large volume of postings. After one investigator finished coding the transcripts of a conference, a second rater evaluated all the codes and disagreements were discussed until they reached an agreement.
In addition, a qualitative content analysis was conducted on the transcripts of the three conferences in order to gather qualitative data that reflected cross-cultural differences in the student discourse. Findings from the qualitative content analysis were categorized into several themes as they emerged. Also, to ferret out their reactions on the cross-cultural collaboration experience, a qualitative content analysis was done on the data from post-collaboration questionnaires as well as the videoconference between the American and the Finnish participants.
ResultsSummary of Postings per Conference
As shown in Table 2, a total of 32 cases and 417 messages were posted in the Finland conference, and a total of 114 cases and 577 messages were posted in the U.S. conference. The Finland conference showed a higher number of postings per person than the U.S. conference with 6 postings per person in the Finland conference and 12 postings per person in the U.S. conference, including instructors (see Table 2). In terms of student postings, Table 3 shows that the Finnish students averaged over 12 posts per participant during the two months in COW, while the U.S. students only posted about 4.5 posts per participant, respectively. Importantly, the average length of post was 145 words in the Finnish conference and 134 words in the U.S. conference, which indicates that the Finnish students tended to generate longer messages than the American students. In terms of the activity level of COW, each case posted received an average of six responses across the two conferences. Such data indicate that the conference was quite active and students received extensive feedback on their cases during the spring of 1998.
Conferences Topics Conversations
# of Cases per Participant # of Postings # of Postings per Participant Finland 14 32 0.9 417 11.9 U.S. 22 114 1.2 577 6.1 Total 36 146 994
Table 2. Summary of online postings in Finland and U.S. conferences.
In the following semester, the Korean participants generated 28 cases and 170 postings, of which only 4 percent of the total postings came from instructors (see Table 4).
The Korean students averaged nearly 8 posts per participant, accounting for 96 percent of the conference posts. Each case posted to this conference received approximately 5 responses.
Conferences Finland U.S. Conference Totals Average Individual Postings Finland U.S Messages posted by Students 366
12.2 4.5 Messages posted by Instructors 51
10.2 25.7 Total 417
Table 3. Student and instructor participation in Finland and U.S. conferences.
In general, instructors tended not to dominate conversations during the conference in terms of the frequency of postings; in fact, their postings accounted for only 23 percent of the Finnish and U.S. conferences (see Table 3). However, the U.S. instructors showed a relatively higher number of postings than their Finnish counterparts. Most of the U.S. instructors were active participants in the conferencing (averaging over 25 postings per instructor during the conference), whereas only two out of five instructors from the Finnish conference were actively engaged in the conference. At the same time, these two Finnish instructors contributed 33 postings to the conference topics in the Finland conference, accounting for 8 percent of the total postings in that conference (note that U.S. instructors also posted 18 messages in the Finland cases). In the following semester, the Korean instructor posted only 7 times in the Korean conference, accounting for just 4 percent of the conference postings (see Table 4).
# of Cases per Participant # of Postings # of Postings per Participant Student Instructor 10 28 1.3 163
Table 4. Summary of online postings in the Korean conference.
Cross-cultural Exchanges among Student
The amount of text exchanged between the Finland and the U.S. students was compared to examine the level of cross-cultural collaboration among students. They showed different levels of participation in the COW conferencing formed by other cultural groups. As shown in Table 5, among a total of 366 student postings in the Finland conference, more than half of them came from American students, which indicates that they were attracted to the Finland conference. In contrast, postings by Finnish students in the U.S. conference accounted for only 7.8 percent of the 397 student postings in the U.S. conference. More specifically, Finnish students posted 31 messages in the U.S. conference (1.0 posting per student). In contrast, American students posted 231 messages in the Finland conference (2.6 posting per student), thereby suggesting more active cross-cultural participation in the COW conference by U.S. students than Finnish students.
Conferences Finland U.S Conference Totals Postings by Group Members 135
Postings by Other Group Members 231
Table 5. Students' participation in own and other group conferences.
Of course, the unequal number of students from each cultural group within COW clearly might have influenced the findings of the present study, since the U.S. conference had a larger number of participants than the Finnish conference. Nevertheless, the U.S. conference had more cross-cultural postings per student. It is unclear whether language expertise, self-confidence, or online experience was a factor here. Many of the differences were likely caused by perceived English deficiencies for Finnish students, who were non-native speakers of English. Still, it was not entirely a lack of English skills since the Finnish students were planning to teach English as a second language when they finished their degrees. In fact, many U.S. students and instructors acknowledged the high level of English skills displayed in the postings from Finnish participants (Dennen & Bonk, 2001). In the following semester, of the 163 student posts in the Korean conference, 101 (62 percent) of them were entered by Korean students, 15 posts (9 percent) were from Finnish students, and 47 posts (29 percent) were from U.S. students. The Korean students also had some misgivings about posting in English as shown in the following statement posted on a case about how to teach vocabulary:
Date: Nov. 9, 1998 10:35 PM
I also experienced such like you. I used the same way --memorization and testing-- , but I failed to teach my pupil some vocabularies. Now, I don't instruct someone anymore... but these days, I have many troubles in English vocabulary...My friend and I read an editorial in English every day. Then I find that I memorize, or learn, some frequent words in those editorials. This method is not absolute and may not match with a middle school student. However, this belongs to the constructivism--context-based learning--....
The following statement, which is a Korean student's reply to a Finnish case related to teaching culture in the classroom, perhaps explains why they participated in the project:
Date: Oct. 6, 1998 4:17 AM
Teaching a language with its culture seems to be necessary. Korean culture must be very different from English speaking culture, 'cause Korea is far across the distance and we have quite unique history. I think it important to let the students know English speaking countries' culture. It can be helpful in understanding English friendly. Learning not only the language but also the culture means the language can't be separated from their culture.
Overall Online Collaborative Behaviors
As indicated earlier, all the messages in the Finnish and U.S. conferences posted by the students who are members of the conference group were coded according to the Curtis and Lawson coding scheme; in effect, messages posted by instructors and by students from external groups were excluded in this particular coding, since the investigators were interested in obtaining data on online collaboration within the culturally homogeneous groups for cross-cultural comparison among those groups. The total number of coded utterances was 229 in the Finland conference, and 505 in the U.S. conferences. Table 6 summarizes the results of online collaborative behavior analysis by the respective categories in Curtis and Lawson coding scheme. It illustrates that the two groups displayed uneven distributions in the amount of utterances in each category of online collaborative behaviors.
Table 6 also reveals that a majority of the participants’ collaborative behaviors fell into the “contributing” category (i.e., giving help, giving feedback, exchanging resources, challenging others, and explaining or elaborating on positions), accounting for an average of 78.7 percent of the total number of utterances coded in the two conferences. The following statements are some examples of student postings in COW that reflect contributing behaviors. The first example was coded as RI (exchanging resources and information), and the second was coded as CH (challenging others).
Date: Mar. 6, 1998 8:39 AM
I would also like to point out something about the advantages of mixed ability grouping. Rosemary Senior said in one of her articles that mixed ability groups bond more easily than homogeneous groups. Group dynamics has a positive effect on group work and a group that bonds functions effectively even if the student’s pace of working differs greatly. (Note: this is from a Finnish case on ability grouping.)
Date: Mar. 11, 1998 12:33 PM
Sounds like a great class to have witnessed in action. I just have to play devil’s advocate for the regular classroom real quick. I think that this type of [enriched program] class would work for any classroom, not just accelerated programs. We do not know how long it took the instructor to get the accelerated class to behave in that manner. … The point is, we do not know for sure and we also do not know what a “regular” class may be able to do if given the chance. Maybe it would just take a little time and effort in getting the students to participate in a manner hoped for by the instructor. I just don’t want to leave out any possibility for the other students who are not involved in the accelerated programs. (Note: this is from a U.S. case on enriched programs.)
Behavior Categories (%) Conferences Average Finland U.S Planning 0.0 0.0 0.0 Contributing 80.8 76.6 78.7 Seeking Input 12.7 21.0 16.8 Reflection/
6.1 2.2 4.2 Social Interaction 0.4 0.2 0.3 Total 100 100 100.0
Table 6. Summary of online collaborative behaviors of Finnish and U.S. students.
As shown in Table 6, none of the coded utterances fell into the planning category. It is speculated that planning behaviors were absent because of the nature of collaboration that had occurred in this particular conference. In this online conferencing, participants were not given any activities that resulted in producing tangible outputs except posting cases and exchanging their ideas on the topics under discussion. As a result, the students did not need to be involved in activities related to organizing, summarizing, or presenting their work, which are prominent in other online collaboration research (Curtis & Lawson, 2001).
Conferences Finland U.S Behavior Categories Codes*
Conference Totals Planning
Sub-total 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 Contributing
Sub-total 185 80.8 387 76.6 572 (78.7%) Seeking Input
Sub-total 29 12.7 106 21.0 135 (16.8%)
Sub-total 14 6.1 11 2.2 25 (4.2%) Social Interaction SI
0.4 1 0.2 2 Sub-total 1 0.4 1 0.2 2 (0.3%) Total 229 100 505 100 734 (100%)
* Refer to Appendix for more detailed description on the codes
Table 7. Specific online collaborative behaviors of Finnish and U.S. students.
Table 7 shows more detailed results of the analysis of online collaborative behaviors in the Finland and U.S conferences. The results revealed that there were differences in the frequencies of utterances in seeking input and reflection/monitoring categories across the two groups. Those findings are more detailed in the sections below.
Communication in the Korean conference occurred in the following semester had a slightly different emphasis. A discourse analysis using the Curtis and Lawson coding scheme in the same manner that was done in analyzing the Finland and U.S. conference revealed that nearly 10 percent of the total of 155 utterances coded within the Korean conference was focused on social interactions (See Table 8). Additionally, 64 percent were coded as contributing, 24 percent were coded as seeking input, and the final 2 percent were related to monitoring. Clearly, the percent of social activities in this conference seemed to exceed the previous two.
Sub-total 0 0.0 Contributing
Sub-total 100 64.6 Seeking
Sub-total 37 23.8 Reflection/
Sub-total 3 1.9 Social Interaction
Sub-total 15 19.7 Total 155 100
Table 8. Summary of online collaborative behaviors of Korean students.
Cross-Cultural Comparisons of Online Collaborative Behaviors
As detailed below, differences in online collaborative behaviors among the three conference groups were found from the discourse analysis in the present study.
Differences in reflection behaviors
Finnish students exhibited a higher level of reflection or monitoring behaviors, in which monitoring group effort (coded as ME) were prominent (see Table 6). In addition, the Finnish students provided summaries of their discussions at the end of each case discussion. Even though the case task originally asked for such summaries, those behaviors were absent in the U.S. or Korean conferences. The following is an example of reflection behaviors by Finnish students, wherein a Finnish student posted a summary of discussions on her case regarding student motivation.
Date: Mar. 4, 1998 4:22 AM
As a result of this discussion so far, we have made some conclusions dealing with students’ motivation to learn. We agree that it is impossible to motivate students deliberately. There is no any specific act that can be used to increase students’ motivation. According to McCombs, almost everything that teachers do in the classroom has a motivational influence on students … intrinsic motivation and self-regulation strategies are also important and these can be supported by successful external supports. Contextual conditions and teachers’ beliefs and practices are essential in fostering students’ intrinsic motivation (Note: This was coded as "monitoring group effort" - i.e., ME).
Similarly, another Finnish student posted a summary of discussions on her case regarding learner-centered instruction, which was also coded as &monitoring group effect" (ME).
Date: Mar. 27, 1998 7:06 AM
Thanks for your reply! It’s time to sum up. When children are not used to learner centered teaching, it takes some time for them to adapt to the new teaching method. On the other hand, learner centered lessons may not be as quiet as traditional lessons, for an outsider they may even seem chaotic but children learn better. To avoid the situation where the students find the lesson too chaotic, the teacher should plan his/her learner centered lessons carefully. The teacher should also observe the children and help each of them on their zone of proximal development. It is the teacher’s job to DIRECT the learning, which is not the same as teacher centeredness. Recent studies emphasize the importance of learning not only general thinking skills but content knowledge as well. To make learning meaningful there should be joy in learning, goal-based activities and a real audience for the learning results. The question still remains: How do we monitor or test learner centered learning?
Notice that the Finnish students above embedded their opinions as well as relevant references to psychological theory in their postings and summary comments.
Differences in feedback seeking and giving behaviors
U.S. students exhibited more incidents of seeking input in their utterances than the other two groups (see in Table 7). More interestingly, there seem to be some qualitative differences in the collaborative behaviors between American and Finnish students in seeking and giving feedback.
Feedback seeking and giving by American students
U.S. students tended to be more action-oriented and pragmatic in seeking results or giving solutions than the other groups. For instance, a U.S. student posted the following case that he had experienced, asking opinions for solutions (note that this was coded as "feedback seeking" or FBS).
Date: Apr. 20, 1998 9:10 AM
One day I come into teach the class and one of the twenty students is very quiet. He seemed alright at the time of teaching, but towards the end he just starts crying for no reason. Then, I asked him if there was a problem at home. That is when he starts to really cry. … The questions that were raised in my head were: 1. How involved should I get?, 2. Should I call the family and tell them what happened?, 3. Should I tell the other teachers and see what we all can do?
Another U.S. student posted the following "feedback giving" (FBG) message of his opinion on a case that the other U.S. student had observed where students walked around the classroom barefoot.
Date: Mar. 10, 1998 1:19 PM
The classroom that you observed seems a little out of control. I believe that learning can often take place in a less structured environment, but I think that what you're talking about is a little too relaxed. School is not home. It is a place for learning and actions like running around, sitting on desks, and walking around barefoot are unacceptable. First of all, I could swear that there is some fire hazard law that requires students to keep their shoes on during the day. Second, if I were a parent of one of these students, I would not be too happy.
In terms of pragmatic solutions, another U.S. student posted the following message in response to a case on managing student tardiness. This instance was coded as "sharing knowledge" or SK.
Date: Apr.14, 1998 3:37 PM
One way to manage time and memories is by using planners and hall passes. I am familiar with a high school where students are required to carry their planners with them at all times. They have a certain number of passes, hall, bathroom, whatever, to use during the school year. At the end of the year, there is a reward for having passes remaining in their books. No one is allowed out of class without proper documentation. If they forgot something in their lockers, they had to use a pass. After a while, they begin to realize that those are wasted moments in their school days. This teaches them responsibility for their actions.
Feedback seeking and giving by Finnish students
In contrast, Finnish students tended to seek feedback or opinions that are more theory-driven rather than action-oriented in their discussions, as can be seen in the following Finnish case on an instructional method.
Date: Mar. 4, 1998 4:50 AM
I would like to bring up a discussion about using a dialogue in education. I personally think dialogue is a goal, which should be tried to reach in education. But can it ever be truly reached? Can we as teachers ever respect our students equally so much that we take from students? Is the gap always there?
In adult education there are more possibilities for a dialogue, but how could it be taken into account in other areas in the field of education as well?
Likewise, Finnish students often embedded educational theories in giving feedback to other students' postings. As an example, the following is a posting by a Finnish student who provided feedback on the case presented in the previous example.
Date: Mar, 25, 1998 7:15 AM
My understanding about using dialogue in education has been influenced by Paulo Freire. He has developed his pedagogy of the oppressed when teaching illiterate people to read in Brazil. Main idea in the dialogue used in education is that both teacher and student are subjects in the learning process. Too often the students tend to be objects. Freire says: "No one teaches another, not is anyone self-taught but men teach each other. (Freire 1972)." Dialogue is possible only when there is mutual trust between people as [name] stated. Communication works when both positive and negative feedback for instance can be given in both ways. This has to happen in the caring atmosphere, without a fear of any kind of threat. According to Freire, a coordinator of successful dialogue must have love, humility, faith and hope towards pupils (Feire 1972).
Discussions based on theories or references from literature were unique to Finnish students and such behaviors were not observed in American or Korean students.
Differences in social action behaviors
As shown in Table 7, Finnish and American students posted only one message that reflected social interaction behaviors (SI) in each conference, which implies that their discourse was very much task-focused. In contrast, Korean students shared personal feelings or concerns related to participating in the conference at the outset of their conference. Korean students posted 15 messages that reflected social interactions out of 101 posts in their conference. Some interesting social interaction episodes occurred in the Korean conference, such as the following (Note: the names that appear here are pseudonyms).
Date: Oct. 1, 1998 9:00 AM
Well, like a cup of coffee, may this new thing be relaxing (I am praying now). It must be the beginning, so I am happy now. I wonder whether someone would reply to me. I am a little bit nervous 'cause I am not so familiar with Web conferencing.
Date: Oct. 18, 1998 8:08 PM
[Dear] Sunny, take care of yourself, and I hope your health will be good soon. I'm not accustomed to Web conference, either, but it is a good chance to participate. Please, cheer up!
Date: Nov. 1, 1998 9:01 AM
Thank you for your interest in my health, but I'm all right now. Just before, my long message to you has gone by my slight mistake, so I am sad (crying). And, sorry for my late reply to you.
In sum, Korean students tended to be more socially and contextually-driven online, Finnish students were likely to be more group focused as well as reflective and, at times, theoretically driven, and U.S. students were likely more action-oriented and pragmatic in seeking results or giving solutions.
Results of Qualitative Discourse Analysis
Some distinctive online collaboration patterns across cultures were observed from a qualitative analysis of the conference transcripts. Also, the students' reactions on the cross-cultural collaboration experience were found from qualitative discourse analyses on post-collaboration questionnaires, videoconferencing, and follow-up interviews by the Finnish and U.S. participants.
Distinctive collaboration styles across cultures
In qualitatively comparing the American and Finnish case transcripts, there were some general trends (see Dennen & Bonk, 2001 for additional differences). First of all, the American students wrote cases to fulfill a task, whereas Finnish students tended to base their cases on recent readings and current interest areas. Some examples of such collaborative behaviors of Finnish and U.S. students are presented in the previous section under "differences in feedback seeking and giving behaviors."
Another interesting finding from the qualitative discourse analysis is that American and Korean students wrote their cases as individuals, while the Finnish students wrote theirs as pairs or small teams. The investigators were able to identify the cases written collaboratively by the signature in the message where the names of students who discussed the case collaboratively appeared. It was found that out of 32 cases posted in the Finnish conference, 11 cases were written in this fashion, which was not seen in Korean or U.S. students. In reviewing the cases, it was clear that these pairs apparently had already discussed the case among themselves prior to posting. Hence, while the Finnish students may have written fewer cases per person, they wrote them with more depth and probably spent much time composing and reflecting upon them. In effect, they were engaged by the online case activity, while the U.S. students simply were fulfilling a task or assignment.
In addition, whereas the Finnish students posted thoughtful summaries of their case discussions and reflected on the various perspectives and comments posted to their case situation, the American and the Korean students seldom summarized the discussions or postings related to their case. This collaborative behavior has been discussed earlier in this paper and some examples of case summary by Finnish students can be found in the earlier section under "differences in reflective behaviors."
Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, the Finnish students inserted more culturally sensitive comments or explanations of unique terminology (e.g., "campschools") or situations in order for readers from another country or culture to understand the term or idea better, as shown in the following paragraph. Such explanations or cultural awareness was lacking in the U.S. conference.
Date: Mar. 20, 1998 7:12 AM
In Finland a phenomenon called 'campschool' has become very popular. We do not know any corresponding term in English for 'leirikoulu', therefore we translate it to 'campschool'. Campschools are different from normal camps in the way that they are part of school. E.g. a class spends a week away from normal surroundings in order to have a break from normal classroom studying and have an authentic and exciting school week. There are many different aims for campschools. The main aims of a campschool mentioned at a magazine (Leirikoulu 4/97) were knowledge and skills (e.g. language, culture), pedagogical aims (e.g. good behaviour, take others into consideration), and practical arrangements (e.g. collecting money, planning the trip and the programme).
Participants' reactions on multicultural collaboration experience
In addition to transcript analyses and computer log reports, data concerning the success of COW was collected from post collaboration questionnaires, follow-up student interviews, and general discussions during a cross-cultural videoconference. What follows are findings from the analyses of these data.
There were two optional videoconferences between some of the Finnish and U.S. students and instructors during the spring 1998 semester. One of these took place near the end of the COW conference on April 1, 1998. There were 7 U.S. students and 6 U.S. instructors from one site as well as about a half dozen Finnish students and two instructors from one of the two Finnish universities participating that particular semester. The participants saw several advantages of the face-to-face contact and communication. For instance, several students felt that the activity added personalization and motivation to the COW conferencing. In addition, small group videoconferencing provided students with an opportunity for more casual conversation and knowledge exchange. Not surprisingly, some noted that they appreciated receiving more than the typical instructor's feedback on their work. And they began to perceive how such technologies might be utilized in their own classrooms.
During the videoconferencing, students from each country noted several positive and negative experiences with the COW conferencing during the semester and offered advice on similar projects in the future. On the positive side were comments about many people keeping conversations going, the ability to hear different viewpoints, and finding out that school-related problems and issues in different countries may be highly similar. On the negative side, students noted that few people read beyond the first 10 comments on a case, there appeared to be a lack of time to read and respond to many cases, and it was difficult to read long cases.
Several people rather insightfully noted that with videoconferencing, students no longer have to travel overseas to obtain an overseas experience. In fact, after participating in both the asynchronous COW conferencing as well as the two videoconferences, the director of student overseas placements stated that:
It is unrealistic to think that every student in the School of Education can "do" a Cultural Project. One thing I like about COW is that students have the opportunity to connect with educators from another culture to share ideas, exchange info, etc. While "immersing" oneself in a host culture is desirable to me, COW gives students a chance to make those cultural connections anyway. It is important for our students to have as broad a perspective as they can, before they enter their own classrooms as certified teachers. COW is an excellent avenue, through the communication with the Finns and other nations you might add on, to see how people from other cultures/nations think about schooling, to understand what their problems are and how they try to solve them, and to foster an appreciation for the diversity of people, beliefs, etc. that characterizes this world."
While the videoconferences were interesting and informative, some of the same goals might be accomplished with a synchronous chat event or set of activities. Further testing is recommended.
In addition, students completed questionnaires before and after the project and ten of the U.S. students were interviewed. Much of this data is reported elsewhere (Bonk et al., in press; Dennen & Bonk, 2001). In general, the questionnaire data indicated that U.S. students found COW to be extremely easy to use. In fact, of the ten key items in the questionnaire, that particular item was rated the most favorable. Also, these students thought that COW fostered peer interaction and dialogue about real life teaching situations. The questionnaire data also indicated that they gained an appreciation for other opinions as a result of using the conferencing system. Finally, American students claimed to get some useful ideas about teaching and learning from participating in the COW project.
Clearly, COW fostered extensive international sharing and perspective taking. During student interviews, all ten U.S. students noted that the international perspective was intriguing and interesting. They found it an effective way to see cultural differences in education. And, as indicated earlier, many found it an excellent method for finding out how technology can be used in education. Not surprisingly, the online mentoring that students received was appreciated and deemed motivating. Students mentioned that instructors might use it to prompt and push them to be more reflective and critical. Some students, in fact, requested more of it.
DiscussionThe present study identified some interesting observations on online collaboration across cultures. The findings revealed that the three cultural groups under investigation were different in the levels of their cross-cultural participation and they exhibited distinctive online collaborative behaviors. Also, the participants expressed positive reactions to their experience in extensive international sharing and perspective taking through multicultural collaboration. In particular, the students showed noticeable cross-cultural differences in the levels of their participation in cross-cultural collaboration. Further reflections on what might have caused the inequality in participation across cultures are discussed below.
Difference in Social Interaction Behaviors Across Cultures
As mentioned in the previous section, Korean students showed a higher level of social interaction behaviors than Finnish or American students, whose social interaction behaviors were almost absent. It is speculated that such differences are related to different communication styles across cultures.
Communication and culture reciprocally influence each other (Gudykunst & Ting-Toomey, 1996). The culture in which individuals are socialized influences the way they communicate, and the way that individuals communicate can change the culture they share over time. Members of different cultures learn different theories of communication to guide their behavior through the socialization processes (Hofstede, 1980). Research suggests dimensions that can be used to explain similarities and differences in communication patterns across cultures.
One of the dimensions often referred to in intercultural communication is the distinction between low-context and high-context communication, as suggested by Hall (1976). Low-context communication emphasizes how intention or meaning can be best expressed through the explicit verbal message, whereas high-context communication emphasizes how intention or meaning can be best conveyed through the context (e.g., social roles, positions, etc.) and nonverbal channels (e.g., pauses, silence, tone of voice, etc.) of the verbal message (Hall, 1976). In general, Western cultures, such as the U.S. and Finland, tend to be low-context along the high-low-context continuum and most Asian cultures, including Korea, are more likely high-context (Moran, 1991; Robinson, 1996; Steward & Bennett, 1991).
Research indicates that low and high context communication is a function of individualism and collectivism, which is another well-known cultural dimension (Goodwin, 1999; Gudykunst & Ting-Toomey, 1996). Members of individualistic cultures, such as North Americans and Finns, value independence, achievement and being unique individuals. They prefer direct, explicit, and unambiguous communication. In contrast, members of collectivistic cultures, who value harmony, solidarity and being interconnected with others (e.g., Chinese, Japanese, Koreans), tend to be indirect, implicit and reserved when communicating with others. Thus, in a general sense, low-context communication is prevalent among members of individualistic cultures, whereas members of collectivistic cultures use predominantly high-context communication (Gudykunst & Matsumoto, 1996).
Furthermore, research suggests that the individualism-collectivism cultural dimension influences communication in personal relationships (Gudykunst & Matsumoto, 1996). People from high-context cultures tend to build dense, intersecting networks and long-term relationships. They have strong boundaries and tend to focus more on relationships than on task in their communication. In contrast, people from low-context cultures are likely to have loose, wide networks, and shorter-term, compartmentalized relationships. They tend to place greater importance on task than relationships (Hall, 1976; Walls, 1993). Therefore, the dominance of social interactions among Korean students at the outset of their online collaboration found in this study demonstrates their cultural inclination toward emphasizing relationship over task. By the same token, the lack of social interaction among American and Finnish students seems to reflect their task-focused cultural orientation.
Thus, it is speculated that the difference in communication styles across cultures, which are commonly found in face-to-face settings, influenced the students' collaborative behaviors found in this study. This finding implies that activities for social interaction are recommended in the early stage of online collaboration in order to facilitate active participation of the learners from high-context communication cultures. In fact, Jaffee (2001) recommends having online learners complete and submit a personal profile that allows them to introduce themselves to the class and discuss personal concerns and interests with other members of the class as a means to facilitate learner collaboration in the online environment. Also, Bonk and Dennen (in press) describe some early activities to motivate online learners.
Language Barriers and Intercultural Communication
In analyzing the conference transcripts from Korean students, it was apparent that they were anxious in communicating in English in the conference. Since English was the working language in COW and it was a foreign language to the Korean students, they may have been shy and anxious about contributing to online discussions. In fact, some Korean students expressed anxiety about their limited proficiency in English, thinking that they might be misunderstood. For instance, two Korean students exchanged the following messages (Note: the names that appear here are pseudonyms):
Date: Nov. 3, 1998 7:39 PM
To Sung-in, as a group member, let's try to be active in every process during this class. And, I'd like to know more of the problem on geometry education with some examples (if possible). [Note: this was coded as FBG (feedback giving)]
Date: Nov. 9, 1998 10:35 PM
To Hara. Thanks for your advice, but I'm doing my best for this conference. I will study hard in the class and will show a nice attitude. [Note: this was coded as SI (social interaction)]
Date: Nov. 9, 1998 10:35 PM
To Sung-in. We have some misunderstanding to each other probably owing to language gap. I didn't intend to judge or insult you, but you seemed to be too serious. [Note: this coded as SI (social interaction)]
Several studies have shown that learners with limited proficiency in the language feel less anxious about participating in discussions and have more time to process the language in computer-mediated communication than in face-to-face communication (Beauvois, 1998; Warschauer, 1996). However, findings of this study indicate that limited language proficiency is still likely to affect the level of online learner interactions to some extent. This is often the case in online collaboration among students who speak different languages. For example, in a study of collaborative learning via electronic mail between American and Danish college students, Bannon (1995) found that while language was not a major barrier, fluency in the use of English varied among the Danish students, making some reluctant to use it. He also reported that students with lower language proficiency were reluctant to participate in online discussion, especially in situations where the others involved were not known to them.
Therefore, it should be taken into account that there might be some participants with a high level of anxiety in their limited language proficiency and ways to reduce their anxiety level and encourage their participation need to be considered. One way to respond, as implied by the findings by Bannon (1995) and Jaffee (2001), would be to encourage social interaction among learners wherein their concerns are shared and participation is encouraged. To this end, online instructors need to be aware of the role of the online instructor to reduce anxiety in the conference and encourage social relationships with and between students (Berge, 1995). In addition, Bannon (1995) suggests that cultural barriers can be alleviated when the need for collaboration and the nature of the joint activity is made clearly evident to the students. He further argues that those involved in setting up the activity need to put in a lot of work to help structure it, especially in the early phases.
Still, it is not evident that the language barrier functioned as the only factor accounting for the low level of cross-cultural collaboration by the Korean students in this study. Others factors, such as lack of instructional guidance and limited instructional feedback, also need to be taken into account to understand their minimal cross-cultural collaboration more fully.
What can be done about cross-cultural differences among online learners? Perhaps learners who participate in such conferences need prior examples or case transcripts highlighting cultural differences in communication styles. In fact, such examples could be part of an online help system or Web site. If learners are aware of different communication styles across cultures, they will become more competent in understanding their differences and figuring out how to cope with such differences. They might also respect such differences to a greater degree.
In addition, instructional designers and software development companies need to build learning tools that address learner needs from different cultures. As part of these efforts, they might perform usability tests in different countries. Instructors play an important role as well in facilitating effective cross-cultural communications. For instance, instructors might require students to include social information in their messages (at least the initial ones) in order to make students from some countries (e.g., Korea) more comfortable.
Limitations of the Study
It is important to point out the limitations of this study. First, this study analyzed conferencing among students from two countries for one semester, and the discussions of just one of three groups in the next. As a result, we were limited in forming specific cross-cultural guidelines related to online collaboration. Second, this study examined one conference for each cultural group. Studies of additional conferences might increase the generalizability of the study. Third, as introduced earlier in the previous research section, there are several tools or coding schemes that can be used to analyze online collaborative behaviors. However, only one coding system was used to analyze the participants' online collaborative behaviors in this study. In effect, participants' online collaborative behaviors could have been analyzed in more diverse dimensions.
Recommendations for Future Studies
Comparative research is needed within additional cultures, situations, and content areas. In particular, analyses of cross-cultural differences in online instructor-student interactions are recommended. Although it was beyond the scope of this study to investigate cultural dimensions of online mentoring, a cross-cultural difference in online mentoring behaviors was observed among the mentors in this study. For instance, Finnish instructors mentored their students in a conversational or collegial (i.e., horizontal) fashion, while instructors from the U.S. more often utilized an authoritative (i.e., vertical) perspective in responding to their student cases and comments. Studies of cross-cultural differences in learners' interaction with the instructor, or the instructor's interaction with their students, will expand the body of knowledge related to the impacts of cross-cultural differences on international online collaboration.
In such research efforts, different types of tasks might be compared for studies on cross-cultural differences. As alluded to above, additional research methodologies might uncover patterns of online interactions between various cultures. Whatever the research direction is, cross-cultural research in online learning settings should prove informative and exciting.
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About the Authors
Kyong-Jee (KJ) Kim is a doctoral student in instructional systems technology (IST) in the School of Education at Indiana University, Bloomington. She is also currently an instructional developer/instructor with the IT Training and Education Program at Indiana University. Before starting her Ph.D. program, she worked as an instructional designer in corporate training settings, specializing in design and develoment of e-learning systems and on-line courses. She also taught several classroom and on-line classes to adult learners in subject areas such as computer training, project management, cross-cultural management, and English language. Her research interests include on-line collaboration, on-line inquiry-based learning, teaching with technology, and on-line learning environments.
Address: Department of Instructional Systems Technology, School of Education, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Fax/voicemail: (702) 974-5160.
Curtis J. Bonk is associate professor of Educational Psychology as well as Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University (IU). He is a core member of the Center for Research on Learning and Technology at IU where he co-directs a rural teacher technology integration program. Dr. Bonk is also a Senior Consortium Research Fellow with the Army Research Institute. He received the Burton Gorman teaching award in 1999, the Wilbert Hites Mentoring Award in 2000, the "Cyberstar" award from the Indiana Information Technology Association in 2002, and is a frequent conference keynote speaker. He is President and Founder of CourseShare.com. and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Address: Indiana University, Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, 201 N. Rose Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47405-1006, Phone: 812-856-8353
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