Through Singaporean eyes: A descriptive case study of young adults' E-learning experience
Linda Mei-Ling Fang, The George Washington University, United States
The George Washington University . Awarded
E-learning has developed at such a tremendous rate in recent years. It is now available 24/7/365 to anyone with Internet connectivity anywhere in the world. Given this great potential to reach a wider global audience, it is increasingly necessary to ensure that E-learning courses fit the culture of our learners.
This qualitative, descriptive single case study sought to capture the E-learning experience of 20 young adult Singaporean Chinese in a Speakers' Program. Taking a socio-cultural learning approach, it was surmised that culture at the national, ethnic and cyber levels could have influenced the way E-learning took place in Speaker's Program which was offered as blended learning. It examined the "how" and "why" learning took place online. The main and sub-research questions were as follows: How were young adult Singaporean Chinese' polytechnic students experiencing E-learning? (i) What were the major characteristics of their E-learning experience? (ii) How different was their E-learning experience from their classroom experience and why? (iii) What aspects of E-learning did they find most useful, enjoyable and effective? (iv) How could their E-learning experience in the program be enhanced?
It was observed that their online interaction with the content, the training team, and each other, and the way they learnt from these three sources were influenced largely by their national, ethnic and cyber cultures. Their communication patterns could have been influenced by age group specificity. As tertiary students between 17 to 19 years of age, they had limited exposure to the working world. Hence, they were shy learners. That also influenced the way they learnt from each other. Their online behavior was similar to that of their classroom behavior in terms of their preference for communicating and working in smaller groups. Their interactions were also determined by the type of tasks and the level of formality. They took on different learning personae online and in the classroom. Much depended on the purpose of communication and their perception of the tasks. In that way they showed that they were sensitive to the context.
It can be said that generally, culture at the national, ethnic and cyber levels influenced the way learning took place online. The study confirms the need for online course developers and providers to be aware of the learners' culture and to match their learning preferences and needs. It is also important for online coaches to understand and appreciate the efforts learners make to learn in the way they know best and shape them to reach great heights. More research could also be done to understand learners from different cultures.
Fang, L.M.L. Through Singaporean eyes: A descriptive case study of young adults' E-learning experience. Ph.D. thesis, The George Washington University.
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