Cross-cultural Multimedia Didactics is a New Direction of Online Pedagogy

Educational process set within multicultural e-learning environment, methods and forms of its organization will be the subject of cross-cultural multimedia didactics. Ethnometric approach by G. Hofstede has been applied to the description of subject at hand. In this context the following important parameters have been selected:

Consideration of psychological and pedagogical features of the educational process in a cross-cultural context

This section deals with a variety of problems which are stemming from objectives and values of national educational systems, educational paradigms, national specific forms of educational communication, types of educational discourses, etc.

For example, if a student belongs to a culture with a low power distance rating than that of a teacher, he would expect from a teacher a more informal way of communication involving exchange of opinions, discussion of mistakes made, which may appear somewhat alien to the teacher. Consequently, the exchange of the relevant information and instructions between a teacher and a student would not take place, which actually will have a negative affect on the future process of study. Representatives of the cultures with a high level of uncertainty avoidance frequently try to avoid ambiguous situations. Ambiguity and change are frowned upon. Structured and routine, even bureaucratic approach to problem solving is preferred.

Interactive education in cultures with a high power distance rating requires monitoring of the learning process. On the contrary, in cultures with a low power distance rating interactive education often thrives. Indeed, members of the team from a culture with high index of individualism are inspired by competition, ability to express own opinions and make own decisions. On the contrary, members of collectivist cultures require quiet environment and quality hardware for group interaction. Experiments conducted revealed that in Western cultures it is acceptable to discuss the mistakes in order to avoid them in future and learn from them, ask questions, argue the points of view, etc. On the contrary, in Eastern cultures the ability to discuss mistakes is limited due to high importance of maintaining harmonious relationship within the group and fear of failure.

Culturally conditioned features of ergonomic design of electronic manuals and media; National features of educational content organization

Cleary, in this context, the importance of psychological and didactic basis for the organization of cognitive activity in a multicultural learning environment cannot be underestimated, neither can be academic support. Thus, cognitive and contextual components may really influence the specific forms and genres of electronic books (i.e. different visual perception of the function keys, difference in ways information is sorted, in presentation of data formats and iconic characters), as well as their structure, content and interface. Electronic learning systems featuring interactive learning, variety, creativity (training scenarios, training simulation environment, integrated learning environments) may successfully be used in Western cultures, and, more likely, with less enthusiasm in the East.

In order to create an effective educational resource aimed at multicultural audiences, it is necessary to consider such components as: a navigation system, cultural competence, easy access to logically presented information, appropriate design, the degree of user involvement, the use (specifics) of various multimedia materials, strategies of educational process, user and motivational support. ‘Cultural marker’ is a design feature that belongs to a particular culture, i.e. colour, national symbol, space layout etc. Members of different cultures pay attention to different things. For example, for cultures with a high power distance such

parameters as index resource structure, hierarchy, information security, officiality in e-learning environment are of high

importance. It has been noted that users from different cultural backgrounds behave differently when using educational resources

organized by the method of open content: members of cultures with a high index of individualism prefer unique content, and they

are more active in using the resources of this kind, they often refill the existing content or change it. Per contra, the

representatives of cultures with a high index of collectivism often relay existing content rather than create a new one.

Thus, we observe influence of national educational paradigm on structure of intellect and specific preferences in processing of

educational material. Once these factors are taken into consideration, the choice of effective methods of learning within

multicultural educational environment is a simple task indeed.

Interconnection of cognitive characteristics, choiceof optimal teaching methods and the preferable types of multimedia technology

Additionally, one of the primary issues in cross-cultural educational environment is a problem of quality and appropriateness of

the feedback (timely responses, degree of clarity of the goals and objectives set by tutors), which for the most part depends on the

cultural context.

For the most rapid adaptation of tutors it would be appropriate to develop a cultural assimilator, aimed at adapting to the

multicultural education in a virtual environment. This assimilator should be developed in the following segments:

  1. Situations aimed at forming psycho-pedagogical and didactic competence in cross-cultural context;
  2. Expertise in culture specific ergonomic design of electronic textbooks and media;
  3. Thorough knowledge of culture specific educational content and types of pedagogical discourse.

In our opinion, there is a certain pattern of interconnection between the type of culture, educational objectives of a culture,

specific techniques and teaching methods, motivational and pragmatic characteristics and preferable type of multimedia

technologies for the members of this cultural group and, finally, effective ergonomic parameters. We’ll compare countries belonging to different cultural groups. The design of on-line resources certainly embodies national culture of its creators. User

web interface must meet the cultural and pragmatic expectations of the user (especially in navigation, graphics and content) for

maximum efficiency of presenting information. For example, it is possible to observe that the design of European sites is

characterized by ease of navigation, logic and predictability, dosage of information and no hidden content.

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