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Intercultural Challenges in Networked learning: Hard Technologies Meet Soft Skills Chase, Mackie; Macfadyen, Leah P.; Reeder, Kenneth; Roche, Jörg 2002

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Intercultural Challenges in Networked Learning: Hard Technologies MeetSoft Skills by Mackie Chase, Leah Macfadyen, Kenneth Reeder and J?rgRocheThis paper gives an account of themes that emerged from a preliminaryanalysis of a large corpus of electronic communications in an online,mediated course for intercultural learners. The goals were to testassumptions that electronic communication is internationally standardized,to identify any problematic aspects of such communications, and toconstruct a framework for the analysis of electronic communications usingconstructs from intercultural communications theory. We found thatcyberspace itself has a culture(s), and is not culture-free. Cultural gaps canexist between individuals, as well as between individuals and thedominant cyberculture, increasing the chances of miscommunication. Thelack of elements inherent in face-to-face communication furtherproblematizes intercultural communications online by limitingopportunities to give and save face, and to intuit meaning from non-verbalcues. We conclude that electronic communication across cultures presentsdistinctive challenges, as well as opportunities to course planners.ContentsIntroduction & BackgroundMethodFindingsDiscussion & Conclusion??Introduction & Background"There is now more negotiation to be held between theparticular institution's processes and discourses on the onehand and, on the other, the uniqueness of the student'sindividual cultural and linguistic related histories" [1].Despite rapid advances in information and communications technology(ICT) approaches to networked learning, relatively little is known aboutactual experience in the field using these technologies to facilitatecommunications between individuals and groups from different culturalbackgrounds. Rather, it is widely assumed that it suffices to deploystandardized technologies worldwide, and expect in turn that ways ofcommunicating will become standardized for cohorts of culturally diverselearners and teachers participating in local, national or internationalprograms. One of the major pitfalls in networked learning programs forculturally diverse participant communities is miscommunication.Expanding our understanding of the process of interculturalcommunication in a virtual learning environment is a necessary step indesigning exemplary networked learning in international/interculturaleducation.The term "culture" has multiple meanings in different contexts. Often usedto refer to the literature, art, music and architecture of a society, in thepresent study "culture" refers to the commonly shared system of generalbeliefs, values, and underlying assumptions held by a group of people."Culture is always a collective phenomenon ... it is the collectiveprogramming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one groupor category of people from another ... it is learned, not inherited"(Hofstede, 1991).This paper describes Phase One of a longitudinal, large scale analysis ofintercultural communications factors in the ICT elements of international,networked learning courses run by a large Canadian university.Preliminary findings include:?  differing communication patterns and instances ofmiscommunication in online exchanges between culturally diverselearners and online facilitators;?  a preliminary account of self-reported cultural and values dataabout participants; and,?  a taxonomy of intercultural communication problems associatedwith ICT elements of networked learning, developed usingethnographic methods and informal discourse analysis.Our overall goals are to test critically the assumption that electroniccommunication will proceed in a standardized manner for culturallydiverse learners in networked environments, to identify any problematicaspects of such communications, and to provide a preliminary frameworkfor the analysis of electronic communications by using constructs fromintercultural communications theory.?MethodSince 1996, the UBC Centre for Intercultural Communication (CIC) - aunit within the Division of Continuing Studies of the University of BritishColumbia - has offered a program with modular courses each having amajor online component, as part of a certificate program in the field ofintercultural studies. The program arose from the interests of professionalsin the field of international education who wanted to enhance their skills inthe intercultural aspects of their work and requested a "Canadian"perspective as opposed to a "U.S." perspective of the field. Initialdevelopment of the program was supported by the University of BritishColumbia, Canadian Bureau of International Education, British ColumbiaCentre for International Education, and Commonwealth of Learning.Course Features?  participatory, experiential workshops combined with facilitateddistance learning;?  part-time format to meet the needs of working professionals;?  delivered in centres across Canada;?  one to two facilitators for the two-day face-to-face component ofeach course; and,?  online facilitators, in a ratio of one facilitator for every three orfour participants.Course participants post weekly assignments, and are required to respondwith comments and discussion to postings by their colleagues in thecohort. Online facilitators, selected from the professional community inCanada and internationally, respond to each participant, while facilitatorswho have delivered the face-to-face portion of the course also mediatediscussion of content online. The course moderator from CIC isresponsible for introducing participants to the 'culture' of the onlineportion of each course. From 1996 to 1999 the course was conductedthrough an e-mail listserv. However, from 1999 onwards, participants andfacilitators post messages on a Web-based bulletin board within theprogram's Web site. This allows for threading of discussions by topic.Online modules are preceded by a two-day full-time workshop in whichparticipants meet and work intensively together with their colleagues andone to two instructors.Classes vary in size but average between eight to ten participants, withdiverse backgrounds in terms of ethnicity, citizenship, professionaltraining, educational background, experience in international andintercultural work, and age. There are usually more female than maleparticipants.The program's first required module provides an experiential introductionto foundational thought in the field of intercultural studies. Assignments inthis module involve identifying, researching and analysing interculturalencounters that the participants themselves have experienced. In addition,at the beginning of each course, participants are asked to post a 'self-introduction' contribution. A subsequent assignment asks participants toidentify and examine some of their own cultural values, and to considerthe origins of their personal and cultural values. Since 1996, the totalcommunications of each course module offered in the certificate program -whether e-mail-based or Web-based - have been compiled and archived astext files. The archived text files for the set of courses therefore containpersonal introductions written by each participant, personal explorationsof cultural background by each participant, as well as extensive electronicexchanges between participants and facilitators, both formal and informal.Selection and preparation of the corpus for analysisPreliminary and informal discourse analyses of e-mail listserv technologyand Web-based discussion groups indicated very similar processes andproblems arising in the interactions. The ratio of participants to postedassignments and comments was similar and the comments concerning theoverall reaction to the course by participants were similar.Apart from producing a richer corpus (424 postings on the Web vs. 146postings on the e-mail listserv by fewer participants), the main differencerevealed by our preliminary analyses was that the discussion threads werefar easier to follow in the Web format and therefore the analysis ofinteractions and related comments created by each posted assignment orcomment could be conducted in greater depth. For this reason we havefocussed on the Web-based example for our analysis in this study.All messages were arranged in order of date sent, and superficiallyreformatted (extraneous headings reduced, etc.) for ease of analysis.However, within each electronic message all the original formatting,spelling, use of alternate characters, emoticons etc. were left as written bythe course participant. Names were changed and individually identifyinginformation about participants was removed. The corpus for this analysisconsisted of 424 postings across six course assignments by 23 students,five online facilitators and two course moderators in two major Canadiancities. The postings were sent over a period of 12 weeks in late 1999.Analyses of the prepared corpus for the course module involved thefollowing steps:1.  Discourse analysis and ethnographic analysis techniques whichallowed us to identify major themes and clusters ofcommunications problems, and to produce an analytic taxonomyfrom those clusters.2.  Further analysis of selected instances of interculturalcommunications difficulty in the light of concepts fromIntercultural Communication theory.?FindingsCultural heritage, values and influences revealed byparticipantsAs noted earlier, the first two assignments asked participants to post a"self-introduction" and subsequently identify their own personal andcultural values as well as the sources of those values. A sample of thesefindings appears in Table 1. Details are listed in the order in which theywere disclosed by participants over time. An indication of gender (whichwas always apparent from given name and/or pronoun use) appears foreach participant. This information provided us with useful background forour analysis of problematic areas or themes that emerged from theelectronic exchanges throughout the course.?Table 1: A Sample of Self-described Cultural Heritage, Values andInfluences of Course ParticipantsKey: M, male; F, female; BC, British Columbia; B.A., Bachelor of Artsdegree; B.Sc., Bachelor of Science degree; M.A., Masters of Arts degree.Pseudonym/Role Self-described Cultural Heritage, Influences andValuesAsher Pinchas (M)Online Facilitator Middle Eastern, Canadian university instructor, M.A.Batsheva Carmela(F)ParticipantEmployed in Canadian university B.A.; CanadianAnglophone; Values: family, knowledge/learning,independence, creativity, idealism, risk-taking, humour,equality, achievement, patience, versatility.Chava Pazit (F)Online FacilitatorM.A., born in Southern Europe; immigrant in Canada;teacher/ consultant; collectivist cultural background.Dana Ashira (F)Participant Nurse, lived and worked in Canada, U.S. and overseas.Dana Nirit (F)ParticipantB.Sc., Mediation training; Manager and Ombudsman forlarge Canadian company.Efrat Kalanit (F)ParticipantPh.D., born in Germany; immigrant in Canada (21 yrs.);Cultural influences: German collective post-war guilt;uncertainty avoidance; ascription-oriented; traditionalgender roles.uncertainty avoidance; ascription-oriented; traditionalgender roles.Gabriella Hadas (F)ParticipantCanadian; works for a natural gas pipeline company;international development project experience.Kishi Galatia (F)WorkshopFacilitator & OnlineModeratorM.Ed; Canadian university administrator; Canadian;Languages: English/French; lived/worked across Canada,international experience.Levana Tal (F)ParticipantCanadian; B.Sc.; works in resource management withprojects engaging first nations and non-natives.Maya Zohar (F)ParticipantB.A; 11 yrs. living/studying/working in Asia; teacher,editor, translator; Anglo-Saxon heritage; youngest child;Values: "peace, order & good government", compassion,generosity, idealism/altruism & service to others,honesty, politeness, integrity, fairness.Michal Chilion (F)Online FacilitatorM.A.; Canadian, born and schooled in Africa, universityteacher in U.S.Naomi Adina (F)Online FacilitatorM.A.; Canadian university, teacher, counsellor; U.K.-born to South Asian family, raised and educated U.K. andCanada.Raz Dafna (F)ParticipantBC First Nations; small business manager; graduate offirst nations school.Sara Nitzan (F)ParticipantM.A.; born/raised in South Asia, adult immigrant inCanada; Values: predominance of family, individualist,respect for authority; low tolerance for ambiguity;assertiveness and nurturing in men and women.Shua Bartholomew(F)WorkshopFacilitator & OnlineModeratorCanadian; Anglophone; consultant/educator;international experience; M.A.Sivan Penina (M)Online FacilitatorBorn in South Asia; educated in U.S.; graduate study inU.K.; teacher/researcher/journalist; Canadian provincialgovernment position.government position.Vered Maayan (F)ParticipantFirst generation Canadian; Chinese heritage; graduatedegree; Values: family; respect for elders, avoidance ofconfrontation.?Themes emerging from online communicationsWe identified nine main themes in the content analysis of the corpus ofpostings - these are (somewhat overlapping) arenas in which we frequentlyobserved miscommunications, or 'mismatches' between communicatorexpectations. These themes are summarized in Table 2, and described infurther detail below. Our major finding is the discovery of the creation ofan online culture within the course, and we discuss this at greater lengththan other perhaps more predictable findings.?Table 2: Emerging Themes from a Sample of Online InterculturalCommunicationOnline CultureThere is an "online culture" or "cyberculture", and the certificate courses understudy have a sub-culture all their own. We find evidence that the course culturereflects the values of its developers, that this culture is overtly maintained byguideline creation, and covertly maintained by facilitators and participants.Features of the observed cyberculture include 'etiquette', rules offormality/informality, flexibility, interaction style (including greetings/farewells,use of apology), expectations of response speed, and work ethic (tensions betweenrelationship building communications and 'on-task' communications).Format and ParticipationDistinct communication pattern differences are apparent when comparing e-mail-based and Web-based exchanges. Success rate of some communicators may beinferred from the frequency with which they elicit responses from the group.Face-to-Face versus Online IssuesIndividual discomfort with the 'anonymity' of online discourse is represented bydifferent commentary from individuals.Identity CreationSignificant cultural differences become apparent in the ways in which participantswrite about their own identity in online postings. This includes the nature of theirshort introductions (content, length, style), the degree of 'self-revelation' theydisplay. Other features of identity sub-cultures (age/generation, and gender) alsoemerge.Technical IssuesTechnical and formatting issues clearly influence effective communications inthese online arenas. We observe correlations between frustrations or expertisewith the technology and various cultural or sub-cultural themes (age, gender,professional culture). Expectations regarding the role of facilitators in resolvingtechnical problems emerge, and are reflected in a variety of 'housekeeping'messages.Participant ExpectationsParticipant expectations of the course, online facilitators/moderators and themedium vary, and may be connected to differing cultural expectations ofeducational environments.Facilitator ExpectationsSimilarly, facilitators from different cultural backgrounds have varyingexpectations of participants, and express these expectations in various ways.'Academic Discourse' versus 'Stories'We observe communication differences that might be related to differentparticipant experiences with academic discourse. In contrast, other participantsand facilitators incorporate narrative and 'stories' to teach ideas or shareexperiences. There is variation in participant tolerance of critical debate.TimeExplicit and implicit assumptions about 'time' and punctuality emerge, andcultural attitudes towards these become apparent from the ways in whichparticipants and facilitators account (or not) for lateness.?We turn now to these themes and provide examples of each, along withsome preliminary discussion of the significance of the theme in terms ofour study's overall aim of characterizing the nature of interculturalcommunications in networked learning environments and the oftenproblematic nature of this undertaking.1. The Online 'Culture' of the CoursesExamples of creation/enforcement of CIS online culture include:"Here are the guidelines we agreed on in Toronto to informour workshop and on-line discussions: feel free to sharethoughts and feelings openly. I'd like constructive feedbackthat will help me learn, not punitive. judge my idea, but notme ..." (Shua Bartholomew)"Here are the guidelines that the Vancouver group came upwith and agreed to during the weekend workshop ... .?  Confidentiality.?  Respectful, Non-judgemental approach.?  We speak from our own experiences.?  We agree to disagree.?  Respect the learning opportunity.?  We continue the conversations, even when it'sdifficult for us. We accept the questions others askus - asking questions is okay." (Kishi Galatia)We found that there were a number of remarks about the "culture" of thecourse reiterated and built upon at the end of assignment #3. After thisthird assignment, several of the participants decreased their participation.We observed instances of the flexibility of online culture including severalexamples of "style mirroring" by the course facilitators, who sometimesmatched their style and tone to the person they were responding to. Inaddition, we found that facilitators sometimes communicated in startlinglydifferent ways with participants from different cultural backgrounds:"Hi Sharon,I'm sitting at my computer looking out into a wet butthankfully NOT rainy Saturday morning in my backyard.The grass and tress are still amazingly green and children'stoys are piled up in one end of the yard ... this is evidenceof my five year old son's belief that "my mom doesn't likemess" ... ...Looking forward to talking Monday Sharon.Amities, Kishi""Hi Raz,How are you doing? How is your family? Are your childrensurviving the winter colds? As I type, my son is watchingtelevision ... - what is it about Saturday morning cartoons?Do your kids watch them? My daughter is talking on thephone with a friend making plans ... What's it like in Mountcurry today - is there snow? ... What do you think Raz? ....I'd like to hear what you think Raz. Please let me know.Kishi"2. Participation FrequencyThe frequency of participants comments vary greatly as do the number oftimes each person is addressed in postings. Some are never responded toand some stimulate a rush of responses as well as the length and style ofthe responses. Because there appears to be a connection between culturalbackground (including gender) and frequency of comments, we hope toinvestigate such a relationship in the next phase of the study, together withan analysis of discourse structure of online participation as a function ofcultural background.3. Face-to-Face versus Online IssuesIncluded under this theme were preferences expressed for 'distance':"... in a group I am not always the one to jump in with anopinion. I prefer to sit and think things through beforesaying anything. That's why I really like this online course.I have time to filter rash statements (I hope) and can readand cogitate slowly on what all of you have written. In away, it takes us back to the days when letter-writing wasthe norm, and people had lots of time to reflect :>)" (MayaZohar)We also found expressions of unhappiness about lack of face-to-facecontact:"I am hoping that through our online interactions we canproject enough of ourselves to feel comfortable to proceedwith our discussions and reflections ..." (Asher Pinchas)" - it didn't matter that we didn't meet the Toronto group,but I would have liked a photo to relate to" (Maya Zohar)"Hi everyone, I'm not sure if I will be involved in theDecember course, but I live in Vancouver and would loveto meet you face-to-face, especially after these last fewweeks of discussion." (Naomi Adina)4. IdentitySome differences between self-introduction statements that we foundincluded the dimensions of style, quantity and content focus:?  formal versus chatty style?  brief versus lengthy postings?  very focussed on educational/professional role/achievementsversus more focussed on culture, familyParticipants who first (or only) describe their job in a "self-introduction"included:"Here's a little bit about me so you can start to get to knowme ... . My job is ... ." (Bathsheva Carmela)"I am a critical care nurse and have worked in ... ." (DanaAshira)"I live in ... . ... and work in the international arm of a ...company." (Gabriella Hadas)Several participants identified themselves first in relation to their culturalheritage:"My name is Raz, and I'm a First Nations woman ... ." (RazDafna)5. Technical and Formatting Issues">Hi everyone!> ... >>My formal bio is posted somewhere(list of facilitators, I > think ... ." (Sivan Penina)"I found it really hard to read assignments that weren'tdivided into paragraphs. My printer died and I have a hardtime reading a run-on paragraph on screen" (Maya Zohar)"I did find the long run-on paragraphs difficult to assimilate... . Must be old-- eye strain comes easily these days ... . Ifound the facilitators disinterest in helping us understandhow to use the website to be discouraging." (GabriellaHadas)6. Participant ExpectationsExamples of statements regarding participant expectations of the courseincluded the following:"The main reason I'm taking this course is to learn how tocommunicate more effectively with other people. The onething I would like to take away from this course is a betterunderstanding of other cultures, especially the whiteculture." (Raz Dafna)" ...I want to have a more "scientific" basis forcommunication" (Dana Nirit)7. Facilitator ExpectationsTwo questions arose in our consideration of this theme: What dofacilitators expect from participants? And how do they express it? Weobserved that expectations were expressed both directly and indirectly.Expectations were expressed directly when a facilitator asks for moreinformation, indicating that more is needed from the assignment. (We alsofound that the way of asking and the frequency of direct questions variedbetween facilitators.) On the other hand, Naomi used academicinformation as well as personal stories to express expectations.8. "Academic Discourse" versus Use of Narrative/StoriesExamples of academic discourse included one student who structured her'research plan' for assignment two with background, hypothesis andmethod explicitly identified. Others employed academic illustrations,theories, reading references, as well as formal structures with headings andparagraphs. There was assumption of common cultural and academicframes of reference:"Aye and there's the rub." (Kishi Galatia)Comments on the (Western) 'Academic' nature of the course included:"By the time I was half-way through reading the thirdchapter I woke up because I dropped my highlighter on thefloor ... I had to move to a noisy room to stay awake whilefinishing all the chapters. I was drowning in the boredom oftheory after theory." (Raz Dafna)"I also didn't read much about the human spirit ... . Ourenvironment does ensure distinct cultural behaviours, buthow do our spirits differ? How are our spirits similar? ...Western civilization has institutionalized human spiritualityin various forms of religion ... Once you mention thehuman spirit it seems as though most people look at you ina weird way as though you still believe in Santa Claus."(Raz Dafna)The role and use of narrative in the postings varied widely and included:?  narrative used as a case study to illustrate a point (Asher Pinchas)?  narrative which is very personal (Batsheva Carmela)?  personal description of immediate here and now family situation/moment to create an opening into the topic (Kishi Galatia)?  feelings, reactions, emotions, finding commonalities (ShuaBartholomew)?  stream of consciousness?  one tight text with no breaks at all (Raz Dafna and Efrat Kalanit)9. TimeSome participants occasionally complained about lack of punctuality offacilitators in responding to their assignments. Others commented on lifeversus homework commitments:"Thought I would like to eat my turkey with a goodconscience and do my homework first" (Efrat Kalanit)Reasons were sometimes given for lateness, but in widely varying styles:"Please note that I will be out of town from Nov. 19-25 somy next assignment will be late, as I'm not sure that I'llhave internet access during that period of time." (VeredMaayan)"My computer decided to take a rest, so it's away in therepair shop. I'm using a friend's computer to send thismessage. Dana and Batsheva, I can't wait to read yourresearch results. I'll respond as soon as I get my computerback." (Asher Pinchas)"I think this procrastination is part of the top of Hofstede'striangle (page 10, course notes) - the personality part, partlyinherited from my Father (why not that calm coolorganized mother!) and partly learned and practise throughyears of - putting of dealing with it? :>)" (ShuaBartholomew)"Policing" of lateness by facilitator emerged in these postings as well:"NUDGE NUDGE NUDGE to those who haven't posted!!Post those assignment 4's please, great day to sit in front ofthe computer and write." (Chava Pazit)"I hate to be a heavy, but ... Assignment 5 is due thiscoming week and your assignment 4's are not in yet!!! Thison-line course really works when postings come in on timeand allow us all to get involved in the discussion." (ChavaPazit)"Hi Tal, we haven't heard from you in a while (noassignment 3 and 4. Hope you are okay. Please let us knowwhat's happening and hope you can re-join us soon."(Naomi Adina)?Discussion & ConclusionOur preliminary survey of the data has highlighted some key areas ofcultural value differences that had an impact upon successful onlinecommunication between learners from widely divergent cultural and sub-cultural backgrounds. Discordance between cultural values andexpectations of individual communicators in these areas renderednetworked learning problematic.Most significant of these is the observation that?  "Cyberspace" itself has a culture, and is not simply a neutral andvalue-free platform for exchange.If we assume that any technology represents a cultural invention, in thesense that it "brings forth a world" [2], and that the social organization ofthis world is rooted in the worlds which gave rise to it, then as Andersonnoted [3], the Internet embodies the values of its creators: "speed, reach,openness, quick response". It was, at root, "a tool of engineers andscientists seeking quick and open access to others like themselves" [4].Layered over the foundational but 'invisible' culture of the Internet, theculture of the online modular courses under study here is similarly theproduct of its creators: predominantly university-educated Canadians, whoare Western English-speaking women. Within the course environment,cultural values that are overtly and covertly maintained speak to thisculture.?  Cultural gaps sometimes exist between speakers and the dominant"cyberculture", as well as between individual speakers.Individuals culturally 'at home' in the foundational scientific/technicalculture of the Internet encounter others whose cultures vary widely, andwhose culturally-defined communication styles do not 'match' thedominant communication patterns of cyberspace. In our corpus, this wasexemplified by the rich mix of communication styles: academic versusinformal, and on-task versus relationship-building.?  The greater the perception of cultural differences between the"speakers" online, the greater the incidents of miscommunication.Gudykunst (1995) proposed that the greater the cultural gap betweencommunicators, the greater the 'anxiety' on the part of communicators. Asanxiety rises, the potential for miscommunication increases. In theenvironment of an online course, significant cultural 'gaps' can be theresult of role differences, (facilitator or 'student'), seniority/experience,perceptions of academic ability, gender (Tannen, 1994), perceptions oftime, professional status, expectations of an educational environment, ortolerance for criticism or debate. Differences in the degree of comfort withonline 'self revelation' is apparent in the extreme range of styles of "self-introduction": from brief, formal and professionally-focussed, to casualand intimate. We suspect that the online environment may also limit theways in which participants can utilize face-saving and face-givingstrategies - vital for allowing participants from some cultural backgroundsto feel secure to participate fully in personal discussions. Miscalculation inface strategies increase anxiety and emphasize feelings of powerdifferences (Kim, 1997). The impact of a 'cultural divide' on onlinecommunications is exemplified in our data by the interactions of FirstNations participants and facilitators in this study. The number of postingsby First Nations participants decreased sharply over the course, andfacilitators used distinctly different discourse patterns with theseparticipants.?  Attitudes towards person to person communication using newcommunications technologies vary greatly between cultures.Relevant cultural dimensions which vary among participants and whichwill be examined in future analyses include: task vs. relationship focus(Laurent, 1983), attitudes toward authority, masculinity vs. femininity,group vs. individual focus (Hofstede, 1991), attitudes towards time, highvs. low context communication patterns (Hall, 1966) and universalism vs.particularism (Trompenaars, 1993). Elements of these cultural dimensionsare evident in the discourse examples cited above.?  Characteristics of electronic genres, communication styles androutines, and viewing/listening practices differ between cultures.In-person greeting rituals, viewing/listening practices and other patterns ofcommunication vary between cultures (Kramsch and Anderson, 1999),and similar differences are evident in online communication patterns.?  Many communications technologies lack elements inherent inface-to-face communication.Missing elements include: context perception, dynamic real-time repairmechanisms, a parallel visual channel, eye contact, gestural information,and in general the flexibility we normally expect to obtain or emergebetween conversational partners. Unsurprisingly, participants express theirunhappiness with the lack of these elements in their onlinecommunications: another factor creating anxiety on the part ofcommunicators.In summary, our preliminary work confirms the role of interculturaldeterminants in successfully establishing and maintaining electronicallymediated communication, and offers a preliminary framework for analysisof the use of communication technologies in networked learning contextsacross cultural boundaries. We have identified and rendered problematicseveral central themes that emerged from an extensive corpus of Web-based communications. Further analysis will allow us to relate culturedeterminants of our communicator-participants to interculturalcommunications theory, to illuminate in more detail the underlyingframework of online intercultural communications, and to developtentative recommendations for maximizing successful interculturalcommunication online. ?About the AuthorsMackie Chase is Director of the Centre for Intercultural Communication atthe University of British Columbia, where she coordinates a wide range oftraining programs for domestic and international organizations. Herresearch interests focus on skills transfer across cultures and languages.She has an MA in Language Education from UBC and a Diploma inMulticultural Education from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.E-mail: Mackie.Chase@ubc.caLeah Macfadyen is a Research Associate at the UBC Centre forIntercultural Communication and at the Centre for Managing and PlanningLearning Environments (MAPLE) within UBC's division of DistanceEducation and Technology (http://det.cstudies.ubc.ca). Her researchinterests include the impact of culture on electronic communications, andthe uses of internet and communications technologies in internationaleducation.E-mail: Leah.Macfadyen@ubc.caKenneth Reeder is a Professor in the Department of Language andLiteracy Education at the University of British Columbia, where heteaches and conducts research in applied linguistics, first and secondlanguage learning, and appropriate uses of technology in languageteaching and learning.Web: http://www.lled.educ.ubc.ca/faculty/reeder.htmE-mail: Kenneth.Reeder@ubc.caJ?rg Roche is a Professor of German as a Foreign Language and Directorof the Multimedia Research and Development Lab in the Department ofLanguages and Communication at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit?tM?nchen, Germany. He works in the areas of interculturalcommunication, second language acquisition and second languagedidactics.Web: http://werkstadt.daf.uni-muenchen.deE-mail: roche@daf.uni-muenchen.de?AcknowledgmentsThis paper was presented at the Networked Learning 2002 Conference inBerlin, 1-4 May 2002. The authors wish to acknowledge the support of agrant from the University of British Columbia Hampton Fund to KennethReeder and Mackie Chase.?Notes1. Jones et al. in Goodfellow et. al., 2001, p. 81.2. Escobar, 1994, p. 211.3. Anderson, 1995, p. 13.4. Op.cit.?ReferencesJon Anderson, 1995. "Cybarites, Knowledge Workers and New Creoles onthe Superhighway," Anthropology Today, volume 11, number 4 (August),pp. 13-15.Arturo Escobar, 1994. "Welcome to Cyberia. Notes on the Anthropologyof Cyberculture," Current Anthropology, volume 35, number 3 (June), pp.211-231.Robin Goodfellow, Mary Lea, Francisco Gonzalez and Robin Mason,2001. "Opportunity and e-quality: Intercultural and linguistic issues inglobal online learning," Distance Education, volume 22, number 1, pp. 65-84.W.B. Gudykunst, 1995. "Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory:Current Status," In: Richard L. Wiseman (editor). Interculturalcommunication theory. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, pp. 8-58.Edward T. Hall, 1966. The Hidden dimension. New York: Doubleday.Geert Hofstede, 1991. Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind.London: McGraw-Hill.Y.Y. Kim, 1997. "Adapting to a New Culture," In: Larry A. Samovar andRichard E. Porter (editors). Intercultural communication: A Reader.Eighth edition. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, pp. 404-416.C. Kramsch and R.W. Andersen, 1999. "Teaching text and contextthrough multimedia," Language Learning & Technology, volume 2,number 2, pp. 31-42, and athttp://polyglot.cal.msu.edu/llt/vol2num2/article1/index.html, accessed 30July 2002.Andre Laurent, 1983. "The cultural diversity of western conceptions ofmanagement," International Studies of Management and Organization,volume 13, numbers 1-2, pp. 75-96.Deborah Tannen, 1994. Gender and discourse. New York: OxfordUniversity Press.Fons Trompenaars, 1993. Riding the waves of culture: Understandingcultural diversity in business. London: Economist Books.Editorial historyPaper received 17 June 2002; accepted 22 July 2002.Copyright ?2002, First MondayCopyright ?2002, Mackie ChaseCopyright ?2002, Leah MacfadyenCopyright ?2002, Kenneth ReederCopyright ?2002, J?rg RocheIntercultural Challenges in Networked Learning: Hard Technologies MeetSoft Skills by Mackie Chase, Leah Macfadyen, Kenneth Reeder and J?rgRocheFirst Monday, volume 7, number 8 (August 2002),URL: http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue7_8/chase/index.html

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