Goodfellow, R.; Lea, M. R.; Gonzalez, F. and Mason, R.
Opportunity and e-quality - intercultural and linguistic issues in global online learning.
Distance Education, 22(1),
In this paper we investigate some of the ways that cultural and linguistic differences manifest themselves in global online learning environments. We start from the position that the providers of educational opportunity across national and geographic boundaries have a responsibility to consider how their materials and practices can help to promote cross-cultural understanding. We discuss some of the negative implications of taking a 'centre and periphery' view of participants in an internationally-marketed online MA programme, but offer some data on student performance to justify using that perspective to initiate a more in-depth investigation of their experience of cross-cultural interaction during the courses. We present some of the outcomes of a qualitative study of student talk about these issues, and identify the topics of 'cultural otherness', 'perceptions of globality', 'linguistic difference', and 'academic convention' as focal constructs around which their experiences could be recounted. We discuss how to interpret these narratives, in terms of our aim of promoting cross-cultural understanding through online education, and also in terms of action needed to address perceived inequalities in the educational opportunity offered by the courses as they stand.
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