Cultural Awareness and Differences in MOOCs

This may be of interest for reference to the discourse on cultural awareness and differences in MOOCs
1. Cooperman said the latest round of MOOC enthusiasm has prompted concern because of the top-down nature of the material being offered on MOOCs by professors from elite Western universities.

2. But, in China, Gunawardena found students don’t necessarily openly argue with each other based on points of view. They build knowledge based on collaboration. What effect will this have on the uptake of Western-made courseware?

There are political and cultural reasons behind the use or non-use of MOOCs in developing countries – such as those in China and Africa. Students coming from another cultural background such as China would have different needs, and there could be significant language barriers since their mother tongue is Chinese (Mandarin). Besides, the pedagogy adopted in mainstream China tends to follow the Confucius system – with a strong didactic teaching approach.

Here is a video that shows some differences in views between American and Chinese students (reflective of the western and eastern cultures to some extent).

Relating to cultural awareness, there has been some research studies done, and even a cultural intelligence has been identified. I have attended a cultural awareness training course but found that most of the researches done might have been over-generalized and “stereo-typed”. As Debbie said the learning outcome may be about cultural awareness rather than learning of the subject matter, and some people coming from another culture may easily be misunderstood, misinterpreted or incorrectly judged due to the differences in their gestures, way of connection and communication, and their customs or cultures. Similarly, MOOCs coming from a western culture may have a strong “flavor” of western style of living and cultural values, especially in areas like literature, politics, arts and dancing, and this could be significantly different from those of the eastern cultures. Conflicts in values or cultures may not be obvious, but could hinder the education and learning process. The shadows of neo-liberalism, imposed or biased values of certain beliefs, imperialism and the associated dominance with powers and authority, might be perceived by participants coming from a different culture to the west.
Here is a paper on cultural intelligence (CI).
Some more research papers herehere and here.

It may be interesting for us to have a Multicultural Awareness and Intelligence MOOCs.

How about the design and development of a MOOC on Multicultural Awareness and Intelligence?  Who are the experts in this area?

Who would be interested in such a MOOC?

Thanks for visit too.

John

15 thoughts on “Cultural Awareness and Differences in MOOCs

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  8. Hi John,
    In the end your ask an interesting question: How about the design and development of a MOOC on Multicultural Awareness and Intelligence? Who are the experts in this area? Who would be interested in such a MOOC?
    I did read your page because I was in a web search for .
    Could students from abroad be experts of a kind?
    Lots of people do have stories about meeting people from other cultures. This Mooc could help to build cultural awareness. Maybe an item could be how to train people to become more aware of cultural differences and how to cope with these differences.
    Nancy White comes in mind with the social artist http://www.fullcirc.com/2011/11/08/reflecting-on-socialartists-and-change11/
    Just look in Amazon.com for books on cultural differences and cultural intelligence and see there is a public for CQ (cultural IQ)
    In most countries cultural differences between groups in the country do exist, and sometimes cause problems, so even people who never went abroad could be experts on cultural differences and awareness.
    Do you know people who could organize a cMOOC out of this cultural intelligence?

    I will post this answer on my connectiv blog too. Maybe something will grow out of this question of yours.

    Regards Jaap

  9. Yes, Nancy White is a champion expert in this area. I think one of the areas of opportunities that cMOOCs could tap into is the cultural awareness and intelligence. That seems to be neglected in a world of MOOCs where people are meeting each others who are coming from different cultures, languages, and educational and social backgrounds. Another possibility is to use “Total Intelligence TQ” or “Integrated Intelligence” (like an integration and synthesis of Multiple Intelligence + CQ +Social and Emotional Intelligence) to reflect the multiple talents and intelligence each of us have, potentially and inherently. This is a huge topic, and there is where diversity of opinions would lead to a Collective Wisdom of the Crowds, though some would argue that these would dilute the role of experts. In a Chinese saying: “The ideas of three guys’ could be better one best strategist (a person named Chu Got Hung Ming in Ancient China who was one of the wisest military strategies). If we could better understand each other’s culture, then that would promote cultural identity, multi-cultural understanding and appreciation, and thus leading to a more harmonious global community. Would this lead to a resolution of many education, cultural and social conflicts which seem apparent in MOOCs, institutions, webs, communities and internet? Education shouldn’t be staying with knowledge only, it should embrace human values and cultural identities, in order for human to prosper.
    John

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  12. Cultural awareness refers to the ability to remain open to the idea of changing attitudes about global cultures and ways of living. Cultural awareness has a big impact on communication, and when not properly addressed, it leads to its breakdown. The concept is often used in the business field, although it arises during any inter-cultural activity.
    Cultural awareness implies to being open to the idea of changing cultural attitudes. It is important as a way to help members of a multicultural team identify where things may be going wrong to best leverage their differences. Without some sort of formal cross cultural awareness training it is difficult for multicultural teams to identify areas that need attention.

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