Cultural Diversity in E-Learning

Designing e-learning content that is engaging and effective for all students is impossible without an awareness of and consideration for student diversity (Liu, Liu, Lee, & Magjuka, 2010).  Before one can begin to effectively address student diversity through instructional design, one must examine the concept as it appears in the research literature.  Surprisingly, the characteristics that form the concept of diversity within student populations are not addressed by a unified model or theory in any of the studies consulted for this paper.  However, researchers have investigated student diversity from a variety of perspectives, including cultural dimensions, disability, geography, and language (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010; Shimoni, Barrington, Wilde, & Henwood, 2013).  Despite this apparent diversity of ideas about student diversity, the majority of studies on the topic deal solely with the cultural dimensions of diversity and rely heavily on the work of Geert Hofstede for their theoretical frameworks (e.g., Wang, 2007).  Though popular as a measure of cultural difference, the usefulness of Hofstede’s model has been criticized for oversimplification, inconsistency, lack of empirical evidence, and a view of culture as largely static (Signorini, Wiesemes, & Murphy, 2009).

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