by Steve McCarty
The following article has come out, which I hope will be widely discussed:
"Cultural, Disciplinary and Temporal Contexts of e-Learning and English as a Foreign Language"
eLearn Magazine: Research Papers, April 2005.
New York: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
This article sheds light on some important dimensions at the interface of
technology and pedagogy. A general analytical approach is proposed to
understand the cultural, disciplinary and temporal contexts behind any
specialized field or concept. With this tool for understanding, two
seemingly unrelated disciplines, e-Learning and teaching English as a
Foreign Language (EFL), can be seen in parallel. Japanese and other
Asian learning styles are reviewed to illustrate the cultural context,
particularly when utilizing e-learning with non-native users of English.
The universality or limitations of the Western e-learning paradigm
when transplanted into a non-Western culture are also examined.
Discourse on e-learning among EFL teaching practitioners in East Asia
then illustrates disciplinary and temporal contexts, as these dimensions
bring order to e-learning concepts defined variously on the Web.
An actual graduate school course on online education in Japan also
demonstrates how the cultural context must be considered for learning
to be transformative. Overall, e-learning concepts are distinguished in
the fuller dimensionality of their cultural, disciplinary and temporal
contexts. Applied to other fields as well, this approach may shed light
on the limitations of dictionaries and the whole problem of definitions.