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Determination and evaluation of cultural influence factors regard...
lutions must be found. In comparison to face to face situations, Kerr wri...
As an example, learning technology standards1 aim at achieving i...
If during the validation process (Figure 1, left) the costs for the adapt...
leads to a refusing of the course? A concrete example will be di...
ever, this opportunity rarely has been used. In the following tables, we ...
7. a trusted person. 
Table 1. Comparison: Role of lecturer / pr...
Question: What do you consider as the lecturer’s / professor’s tasks and ...
In the question-block gender g...
larger gap than in Germany as well regarding to the treatment in relatio...
Davis, M., Johnson, B. (2002). Questioning Cultural Viability o...
Mc. Laughlin, C. and Oliver, R. (2000). Instructional Design for Cultura...
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Adapting E-Learning situations for international reuse (Richter, Pawlowski, Lutze CATaC 2008)

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Pre-Publish Version of: Richter, T., Pawlowski, J.-M., & Lutze, M. (2008). Adapting E-Learning situations for international reuse. In: Sudweeks F., Hrachovec, H., & Ess, C. (Eds.), CATaC'08 Proceedings (Nimes, France): Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication, School of Information Technology, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Australia, pp. 713-725.

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Adapting E-Learning situations for international reuse (Richter, Pawlowski, Lutze CATaC 2008)

  1. 1. ADAPTING E-LEARNING SITUATIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL REUSE Determination and evaluation of cultural influence factors regarding the role of participants for the adaptation process THOMAS RICHTER Information Systems for Production and Operation Management University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany AND JAN M. PAWLOWSKI University of Jyväskylä, Finland AND MAXIE LUTZE Korean German Institute of Technology, e-Learning Research Center Abstract. In this paper, we discuss culture-related key attributes as influence fac-tors on e-Learning situations. We focus on factors regarding the influence of the role of participants in learning scenarios affecting the adaptation process. Our approach aims at making already established higher education accessible and particularly affordable for a broader international context. Our holistic approach targets the distribution of higher education through e-Learning technologies and the reuse of contents through adaptation. Therefore, we determined a variety of potential influence factors on learning situations. In this paper, we introduce our adaptation-model for transforming national e-Learning situations into internation-ally compatible, cultural acceptable and context- / user- centered solutions. We focus on an empirical analysis of influences regarding the roles in learning proc-esses in particular in Germany and Korea. 1. Introduction While the classic educational situation, in which a professor teaches students with known attitudes and within a known environment is regionally limited, the technologies of e-Learning and Internet provide further opportunities. In the situation of e-Learning using the Internet, learning situations can be simultaneously distributed in international environments. Further on, the design and production of learning scenarios happens in worldwide distributed environments. In such a situation, particularly location related experiences of educational institutions do not fit the new situation anymore and new so-
  2. 2. 2 THOMAS RICHTER, JAN M. PAWLOWSKI, MAXIE LUTZE lutions must be found. In comparison to face to face situations, Kerr writes that teaching and actions of professors and students in the higher education have not changed signifi-cantly since its beginning in the medieval times (Kerr, 1982). The trend in education generally points on necessary modifications on the traditional teaching system: The Bo-logna process as the most important and wide-ranging reform of higher education in Europe (Reichert and Tauch, 2003) “[…] involves a significant rethinking of current teaching structures, units, methods, evaluation […]” (Schönwald, Euler, Angehrn and Seufert, 2006). E-Learning in an international scenario provides more complex situa-tions and requires further adaptation efforts than those considered within the Bologna process: Known attributes within a local environment, as student’s expectations, techno-logical equipment in the institution or region and the student’s expectable knowledge from former (classic) education now turn to unknown factors within the e-Learning con-text. In international e-Learning scenarios, the students and their attitudes are unknown as long as they have not booked a certain course. Successful education requires taking the context of the students into consideration (Schmidt, 2005) and a simple translation is not the solution (Leonardi, 2002). The reuse of already successfully applied learning situations in the international context therefore requires further adaptations regarding to the different contextual environments. In our approach, we take such unknown specific situations into consideration. We ana-lyzed differences between cultures represented as context-metadata (Richter and Paw-lowski, 2007a). In this representation, influence factors are machine-readable and can be used to adapt systems, in particular e-Learning scenarios. During this adaptation process, which will be presented in the following, we emphasize on those context-describing data for providing the necessary compatibility to the learner’s contexts as a precondition for learning success. This paper focuses on the determination and evalua-tion of concrete culture related influence factors with a focus on the participants’ roles. 2. Reuse and Adaptation Re-using existing educational materials and settings is a promising concept to improve education and learning experiences. The idea is to develop new scenarios based on ex-isting resources which are adapted to a new context. Several methods and concepts for re-use and adaptation are recently discussed. Reuse is a widely discussed subject within the software development community (e.g. Jacobsson, 1997) but also in the educational context particularly focusing on learn-ing objects (Wiley, 2000) and learning activities (Koper and Manderveld, 2004, Ma-nouselis and Sampson, 2005). In (Littlejohn and Buckingham Shum, 2003) the variety of different aspects is discussed. Finally, as conclusion, the outcome of the discussions within the literature focuses on the reasonability (efficiency) of reuse as alternative to re-authoring. As Swan (2003) writes, a facilitation of reuse only by providing the basic data (without national or cultural influences) at least cannot be the solution because teaching is more than simply providing knowledge through coded information.
  3. 3. ADEPTING E-LEARNING SITUATIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL REUSE 3 As an example, learning technology standards1 aim at achieving interoperability for technologies or data structures by developing common description formats. On top of those approaches, the successful reuse of e-Learning situations in different environ-ments (e.g. other countries) strongly requires taking the different contexts of the tar-geted environments into consideration. One of the most important aspects of the context are influence factors regarding the different cultures (Lefevre and Cox, 2006, Carrel and Eisterhold, 1983, Mc. Laughlin and Oliver, 2000). If necessary, changes to the learning situation and the defined requirements must be applied during the adaptation process. Han et. al (1998) define adaptation as a “process of selection, generation or modi-fication of content to suit users’ computing environment and usage context”. Else, con-tents might not be understood (Lugger and Kraus, 2001), cannot be used because of in-compatible (or lacking) technical infrastructures (Selinger, 2004) or in the worst case even offend the learners. But how can we manage such an adaptation process with a reasonable effort and what are the necessary changes, which make learning situations accessible in different contexts? First of all we need to know about similarities and dif-ferences between the origin and the targeted context. Second, as far as possible, we have to take experiences into consideration which in this or similar contextual combinations have been made in the past. In this paper, we focus on the first aspect. 3. The Adaptation Process Model We consider an adaptation process being successful, when the learning effect (educa-tional outcome) for the students in the new context is the same or similar to the one which before has been reached in the origin context. Adaptation in our view is reasona-bly feasible if a positive ratio between cost and benefit is given. Figure 1. Adaptation Process Model 1 Examles for such standards are the description of content (Learning Objects Metadata, LOM, IEEE, 2005), of planned interactions between Learning Management Systems and Learning Objects (Sharable Content Ob-ject Reference Model, SCORM, Dodds and Thropp, 2004), of actor and user interactions (Learner Informa-tion Package, LIP, Smythe, Tensey and Robson, 2001) and of didactical scenarios (IMS Learning Design, Koper, Olivier, and Anderson, 2002, DIN Didactical Object Model, DIN, 2004)
  4. 4. 4 THOMAS RICHTER, JAN M. PAWLOWSKI, MAXIE LUTZE If during the validation process (Figure 1, left) the costs for the adaptation suspend those for rewriting (Pawlowski and Richter, 2007), either the chosen module is not suit-able (because of too fundamental or too many differences) for the reuse in this situation and another one has to be found or the course must be rewritten (Gütl, Garcia-Barrios and Mödritscher, 2004). For lowering the costs, we focus on an automated (as far as possible) changing needs determination process which, as a part of the validation proc-ess we consider being the key-process for a successful adaptation. As shown in figure 1, after the search for courses is done, the actual changing needs resulting from the differ-ences between the origin and the targeted context have to be isolated and evaluated on adaptability (light circle). Within this step, we defined (Richter and Pawlowski, 2007c) a set of processes, as a data gathering process and a data comparison process, which both can be realized fully automated as soon as once the data are collected and stored in the (later on pub-licly accessible) database. Additionally, we defined an evaluation process, which leads to a list of evaluated changing needs. The evaluation process, at least for now has to be realized manually. If there is a generally known and significant difference between two contexts, it cannot automatically be determined if it actually is touched within a certain course. Even if we knew that, we could not automatically evaluate the expense for sub-stitution or elimination: It could be possible that the adaptation process already is fin-ished by substituting a single movie through a picture to fit different technological con-ditions but also that the origin course requires fundamental knowledge sides the stu-dents, which is not given in the new context. In the long term, a recommender system (Manouselis and Sampson, 2004) combined with a knowledge database (basing on past experiences, Bick and Pawlowski, 2006) shall be included into the process. Right now, we still do not understand the contextual influence factors well enough to determine if and when a known difference leads to an unavoidable change or easily would be ac-cepted by the students. 4. Influences on Learning Situations In our past research we isolated around 160 potential influence factors (Richter and Pawlowski, 2007c) on learning and particularly e-Learning situations, which now have to be evaluated. Examples for such influence factors are the population density within a region, the technological infrastructure (i.e. digital divide), the political situation in past (special life-experiences of learners) and present, symbols with special meanings, the people’s attitudes and their (course-related) expectable knowledge and expectations. While some scopes and impacts of those influence factors on a course environment are known or at least imaginable (e.g. caused through technological infrastructure, legal systems, politics), especially those dealing with culture and learners are more compli-cated being evaluated. In some cases we still need to find out, if the determined differ-ences are culturally or individually motivated (see next paragraph). Also the impact depths of the influence factors on learning situations are unknown in many cases as well as the level of difference, which necessarily leads to a changing need. A related problem is the question if a certain difference between the origin and the targeted environment, simply will be accepted by the students or maybe causes a fundamental conflict, which
  5. 5. ADEPTING E-LEARNING SITUATIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL REUSE 5 leads to a refusing of the course? A concrete example will be discussed later on with the relationship of students to authorities. In (Pawlowski and Richter, 2007) we have described a testing tool, which has been designed to evaluate the impact depths of various learner and culture related influence factors but which also supports the validation process, shown in the Adaptation Process Model in Figure 1. With this testing tool, we selectively confront the students of two contexts with each other’s environment. Through their reactions, which are monitored through questionnaires and additionally collected via test (examinations) results, we want to collect data and experiences, which in comparative studies may lead to the needed data in particular regarding to impact depths and cross effects between different influence factors. The first field test will take place in the contexts of Germany and South Korea. Right now we conduct a comparative study between Germany and South Korea, which shall lead to answers on the question if certain influence factors are cul-turally or individually motivated. In the following paragraph this study shall briefly be described and first results will be presented. 5. Influence Factors – Cultural vs. Individual Motivation One area of influence factors is of particular interest: the role of participants in the learning process as this determines a variety of learning activities and usage of re-sources. One main question is whether related influence factors are culturally or indi-vidually motivated. Culturally motivated influence factors can be taken into considera-tion during the design and adaptation process for e-Learning courses because they are valid for most of the potential participants in learning programs. As an example, group work is done significantly different in many European and Asian cultures. This factor is culturally motivated as it occurs in various cultures. As a first step, we have done an explorative survey regarding this particular area. Our first study was done in Korea and Germany. It will be extended to further countries to compare a variety of cultures. In the survey, 160 students were interviewed. This ex-ploration is part of a multi-stage empirical study to examine and validate the influence factors affecting the adaptation process. For gaining further feedback from the interviewees, in this first approach we per-sonally conducted the survey in paper form. Originally designed in English language, for now, it has been translated to German and Korean (the mother tongues of the par-ticipants). The students have been randomly contacted and asked for participation on campus and at students’ meeting points (Korea) as also during lessons (Germany). In the German survey until now, mainly students in technical related fields have been asked for participation and so the gender related quota is unbalanced (102m/13f). In Korea, for now, around 45 results are available. The gender related quota is balanced (23m/22f). The survey in both countries is not finished yet, but anyways, the numbers of asked students allow taking first conclusions. Main issues in this survey have been: • the role of the professor / lecturer • gender related differences The questions were answered using a five point Likert scale between strongly agree and disagree. Additionally, free answers have been possible to explore more aspects. How-
  6. 6. 6 THOMAS RICHTER, JAN M. PAWLOWSKI, MAXIE LUTZE ever, this opportunity rarely has been used. In the following tables, we summarize the results as aggregated percentages to indicate positive (rather agree than neutral) and negative (rather disagree than neutral) answers. The values are calculated regarding to the total number of participants. 5.1. THE ROLE OF THE LECTURER / PROFESSOR According to Hofstede (2005), there are cultural differences in the relationship to au-thorities, which concern the relationship between students and teacher. He relates his Dimension Power Distance (PDI) to this subject, which exemplary is shown in Figure 2: 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Impact significant Germany (35) Austria (11) Figure 2. Comparison PDI : similar distance but different impact depth Figure 2 shows the relative values, which have been determined for Austria, Germany, South Korea and China. While Austrians and Germans can be considered being equal in the way how they treat persons of authority in particular in educational environments, South Korea is very different to Germany (much more authoritarian). Looking at the values of Hofstede it seems amusing that the difference between Austria and Germany is nearly the same as between Germany and South Korea. The conclusion we can take is that the dimensional values as descriptors of relative distances cannot be taken as a hint, if a changing need is necessary. A course between Germany and Austria does not need any adaptation but a course between Germany and South Korea indeed does. Related to this subject we asked a set of 7 questions to the role, a teacher may play and additional 5 questions to related responsibilities. In the following we first show each question-block and afterwards in the Table 1 the related answers. 5.1.1. The role of a lecturer / professor In this question block we want to determine, which role students expect a lecturer / pro-fessor to play. This question is related to teaching methods (Yang, et. al., 2004), ex-pected behavior of the lecturer / professor (Henderson, 1996) and behavior of the stu-dents regarding to the lecturer / professor (Hofstede and Hofstede, 2005). Question: What role do you subscribe to a lecturer / professor? In my opinion a lecturer / professor occupies the role of: 1. an expert. 2. an idol. 3. a personal coach / consultant. 4. an authority. 5. an all knowing person. 6. a personality. South K orea (60) China (80) Impact not signif icant Impact not signif icant
  7. 7. ADEPTING E-LEARNING SITUATIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL REUSE 7 7. a trusted person. Table 1. Comparison: Role of lecturer / professor (%) Korean Study total 45# negative 0 51,11 8,88 53,33 13,33 42,22 11,11 positve 97,77 26,66 77,77 33,33 75,55 37,77 68,88 neutral 2,22 20 13,33 13,33 11,11 20 20 no an-swer 0 2,22 0 0 0 0 0 German Study total 115# negative 0 26,95 19,13 14,78 77,39 20 28,69 positve 100 49,56 60,86 66,95 13,91 62,6 38,26 neutral 0 22,6 20 18,26 7,82 17,39 33,04 no an-swer 0 0,86 0 0 0,86 0 0 Discussion of results: As well German as also Korean students (in different levels) see a lecturer / professor as an expert (1). The German students consider their professor being an idol (2) an authority (4) and a personality (6) but the Korean students, in their major-ity, see this quite different. While the German students do not expect their lecturer / pro-fessor knowing (5) everything (77,39%), the Korean students expect exactly this (75,55%). Both, German and Korean students do expect their lecturer / professor coach-ing them (3). Additionally, the Korean student expect him being a trusted person (68,88% : 11,11 – yes : no). The German students do not so strongly expect their lec-turer / professor being a trusted person (38,26 : 28,69 – yes : no). Different to Germany, the Korean professors also have responsibilities besides the university activities. Often they consult their students through larger parts of their life (e.g. marriage). How the re-sults influence e-Learning situations still has to be found out. Since the students in e- Learning environments do not or only rarely get in direct touch with their lector / pro-fessor the basic situation could be different to the one in the present teaching form. Anyways, the wish for tutoring seems to exist in both countries. Also, if the Korean stu-dents expect the more anonymous lecturer / professor in e-Learning situations to play a role as a consultant for questions in all day’s life is unclear and has to be found out. 5.1.2. Tasks and Responsibilities of a lecturer / professor In this question block the tasks and responsibilities are focused which students expect a lecturer / professor to do. The aim is determining, weather a different level of support has to be implemented within the adaptation process than in the origin context. There-fore the students should evaluate different levels and kinds of support regarding to their expectations. Learner satisfaction (Davis and Johnson, 2000, TiLa, 2004, Johnson, 2000) as a factor for better motivation in learning situations is still controversially dis-cussed. Since the success in self-learning scenarios is strongly dependent on the motiva-tion of the students, missing learner satisfaction can be seen as a key factor for failure.
  8. 8. 8 THOMAS RICHTER, JAN M. PAWLOWSKI, MAXIE LUTZE Question: What do you consider as the lecturer’s / professor’s tasks and responsi-bilities in the learning process? A lecturer’s / professor’s tasks and responsibilities base on: 1. giving support according to technical matters, which are relevant for the learn-ing process (e.g. in case of computer problems or installation of software). 2. providing well-selected contents and contextual information. 3. giving support according to organizing the learning process. 4. assisting within the process of finding the right information 5. giving feedback on my knowledge base, results and general educational devel-opment. Table 2. Comparison: Tasks and responsibilities of the lecturer / professor (%) Korean Study total 45# negative 22,22 0 0 2,22 0 positve 64,44 91,11 93,33 93,33 100 neutral 13,33 8,33 6,66 4,44 0 no an-swer 0 0 0 0 0 German Study total 115# negative 30,43 0 18,26 33,04 19,13 positve 54,78 99,13 63,47 43,47 62,6 neutral 14,78 0,86 18,26 22,6 18,26 no an-swer 0 0 0 0,86 0 Discussion of results: Generally, the same tendencies can be found although the results at the Korean students are some clearer. In two cases (more than the German students) they did not give any negative answer. Question 4 in Germany has been answered nearly balanced between positive and negative and in Korea there is a clear statement to the expectation in getting assistance to find information. It could be deduced that the German students are more used working alone and do not expect the professors assist-ing in such usual things like literature research. In an e-Learning situation this would mean for the design, that if implemented in Korea, literature-lists for further studies would be expected, while they could be spared in Germany. Unexpected has been the answer to question 5: All the Korean students expect their lecturers / professors giving feedback. In his discussion of his dimension IDV (Individualism Index) and his classifi-cation of behavior, Hofstede (2005) writes for Asian societies that the ‘Face is lost when the individual, either through his action or that of people closely related to him, fails to meet essential requirements placed upon him by the virtue of the social position he occupies’. The ability to stand critic and the kind of expected feedback we have tar-geted in another block by asking for the effect of laud and critic. In this block as well German as also the Korean students considered both, laud (89% Germany, 100% Korea) and critic (62% Germany, 82% Korea) having a positive effect on their learning motivation. 71% of the Korean students (in relation to 58% in Germany) said they feel irritated, when they do not get any feedback.
  9. 9. ADEPTING E-LEARNING SITUATIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL REUSE 9 5.2. GENDER GAPS AND DIFFERENCES In the question-block gender gaps and differences we first of all wanted to find out if the masquerading of the learners’ actual gender may provide an advantage within a cer-tain society within the learning situation. In societies, in which for example women are not considered to achieve a higher education because of their intended social position such a masquerading could help providing female learners the same opportunities in mixed learning environments than males. Additionally we wanted to find out how stu-dents in different societies evaluate mixed groups for group-work in contrast to pure male or female groups. Therefore we defined a set of 9 statements which shall give in-formation about the behavior related to men and women and the picture of both. The statements have been designed as answers to the following question: What is your opinion towards the following gender oriented statements? 1. Learning content should be designed in the same way for women and men. 2. Women and men obtain the same ability in understanding complex informa-tion (e.g. engineering, mechatronics). 3. Women and men obtain the same ability in understanding social contexts (e.g. pedagogic of primary education). 4. Women and men are treated the same way when completing a task success-fully. 5. Women and men are treated the same way when failing a task. 6. Women and men have the same chances to access studies on all subjects. 7. Balanced gender mixed groups benefit intellectually to the learning process /success. 8. Separation of genders in the learning process eases the social interaction in groups. 9. It is generally useful to implement quota for the number of women in sup-posed men dominated studies. Table 3. Comparison: gender gaps and differences (%) Korean Study Total 45# negative 20 35,55 28,88 53,33 57,77 26,66 0 62,22 46,66 positve 66,66 46,66 60 40 33,33 57,77 84,44 28,88 37,77 neutral 13,33 17,77 11,11 6,66 8,88 13,33 13,33 8,88 15,55 no an-swer 0 0 0 0 0 2,22 2,22 0 0 German Study Total 115# negative 2,6 26,08 29,56 28,69 28,69 10,43 11,3 70,43 40 positve 86,08 57,39 59,13 57,39 54,78 73,91 58,26 8,69 30,43 neutral 10,43 15,65 10,43 13,04 15,65 15,65 29,56 19,13 28,69 no an-swer 0,86 0 0 0 0 0 0 1,73 0 The differences of the answers between both countries have been smaller than we ex-pected. Anyways, in the question on treatment, in Korea has been stated that there is a
  10. 10. 10 THOMAS RICHTER, JAN M. PAWLOWSKI, MAXIE LUTZE larger gap than in Germany as well regarding to the treatment in relation to excellent solved as also to failed tasks. Although the tendency is similar, more Korean students think technical subjects being better studied by men than by women (20% more). All negative answers in this case came from men. As a conclusion could be said that maybe it would not be necessary to implement a gender-anonymous interface in Korea, but it could have advantages. In Germany it is considered not being necessary because all re-sults have been positive but since also there are differences monitorable it should be dis-cussed. 5. Conclusions As a first conclusion of our survey, the methodology of an explorative survey can be seen as an adequate method for the evaluation of culturally related influence factors. The results we received until now in some cases have shown clear tendencies, other as-pects require further investigation. Not having shown clear results does not necessarily mean that there are no culturally motivated factors but that in our cases there have not been such (at least not in both). Finally, for taking the decision if a cultural motivation is really given for each influence factor, surveys in further countries are needed and will be conducted within the first half of this year. Also, some of our questions need a re-finement because the answers have not been as clear as expected. Anyways, in those cases, we got valuable statements on possible additional answers and found at least two additional influence factors, which we can define as context metadata: The need of the students for being lauded and criticized (before we only defined their ability to stand it). Our survey will at least go on until the summer of 2008. In this time we expect having finished the statistical evaluation. After that, we will conduct it to further coun-tries. Additionally, since this survey showed usable results, we plan designing further surveys for additional context metadata. What we can say until now: With the survey-method it is possible to determine cultural related attributes and so, those can be taken into consideration when adapting learning situations to other contexts. It should be noted that we do not try to classify so-cieties or cultures through certain attributes. We want to enable producers and distribu-tors of learning contents to raise their flexibility, produce more open, target-oriented and adapt existing course materials instead of rewriting. Reusing contents can massively lower production costs and therefore might be the key for a fair trade of education all over the world. References Bick, M. and Pawlowski, J.M. (2006). Managing & Re-Using Didactical Expertise: The Didacti-cal Object Model. Educational Technology & Society, 9(1), 84-96. Carrel, P. and Eisterhold, J.C.: 1983, Schema theory and ESL reading pedagogy. In TESOL Quar-terly, 17(4), 553-573.
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