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A Methodological Approach to Researh Cultural and Ethical Issues of E-University in a Pratical Sense

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A METHODOLOGICAL APPROACH TO RESEARH CULTURAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES OF E-UNIVERSITY IN A PRATICAL SENSE

Nuno Silva

De Montfort University

Abstract

This essay analyses in a practical sense the implementation of e-Learning technology on a University setting and the relationship between the success and failure of this technology concerning the address of cultural and ethical issues. This must be carefully under attention by project managers and computer professionals working on traditional, blended or virtual universities projects. The search of methodological approach must consider the aspects including the building of technological infrastructure, content delivery and pedagogy, computer communications and value added. The issues of culture and ethics act with the above aspects creating the factors that we can evaluate interactively to consider the respective influence on the success or failure of the e-learning implementation.

Keywords: Culture, Ethics, e-Learning, University

Introduction

The future of education process must address the best attention in special when new technologies are introducing changes (Anderson, 2008) which could be analyzed under ethical and cultural issues, which should be a lot of consideration in the research area. This essay aims to investigate the above issues related to the use of e-learning technology in a university setting, consider how these issues impact on success or failure of such technology and analyze the related perceived risk that might influence the decision process in building electronic universities. The research embraces the objectives to design, test and refine a model for ethical awareness, establish principles and produce guidelines for cultural sensitivity, explore the issues involved in effective collaboration and evaluate the potential contribution in a cross-cultural perspective to understand whether different cultures have different perceptions of and preferences for e-learning.

The acceptance level of e-learning technology at university settings is mainly accepted to transform the traditional learning environment to a blended learning environment will be attended to confirm if there are ethical principles and cultural influences that can be considered by the students, teachers and administrative staff. Nevertheless, under the umbrella of ethical and cultural issues this practical approach offer new perspectives into the reasons for current delay on the evolution of these projects and deduce if the situation can be significantly improved. To this purpose the link between the concepts o e-learning, ethics and culture is explored to allow the development of the hypotheses that these issues are related to success or failure of the implementation of e-learning technology. Since part of the e-learning technologies is based on the Computer Mediated Communications we combine this approach with the culture of student population. Following Hofstede (1986) cultural studies, considers on focus of the teacher's training should be on learning about his/her own culture, getting intellectually or emotionally accustomed to the fact that in different societies, people learn in different ways. Nevertheless, Sthal (2002) suggested a framework to research ethics on e-teaching which will be considered under the ethical issues on this project.

The development of a theoretical framework will contextualize the concepts o e-learning, ethics and culture to allow the development and test of hypotheses that these issues are related to play an increasingly important role in contemporary education. The goal was to understanding a phenomenon from the point of view of the participants and its particular social and specific contexts. That means this empirical study evaluate the influence of culture for the decision process, in fact the technology configuration must be adjusted to the cultural environment of our target population, and a new culture of learning must be accepted.

Linking Culture, Ethics and e-Learning

E-Learning promised many things that seemed very appealing: Anytime, anywhere access to knowledge, across boundaries of time and space, choice of media and mode for the learner, replacement of costly classroom participation including travel and institutional cost, reusable content and low-cost delivery, just-in-time delivery of knowledge, the potential to personalize learning to individual style and needs, opportunity for disables, combine informal and formal learning.

There are many definitions of e-Learning generally considering the creation, delivery, and management of learning using Internet tools and technology. According to Martin and Webb (1999) e-learning is nothing more than the use of electronic tools and technologies to assist us in our teaching and learning, and Stahl (2005) e-learning is defined as the use of ICT in higher education, which aims mainly at independent use of technology by students, to address the sense of digital content and freedom of time and space for learning. Nevertheless, the Internet is a basic instrument to e-learning, which was described by Anderson (2008), since the World Wide Web is a multifaceted technology that provides a large set of communication and information management tools that can be harnessed for effective education provision.

Culture, which is generally treated as a shared set of norms and values, beliefs and attitudes, have local and national boundaries and also is not the same from organization to organization, that will be considered on this research. According to Hofstede (1986), the implementing of any system developed in one culture for use in another culture may cause problems. Thus, according to Anderson (2008) the learning environment must respect and accommodate the particular cultural attributes, especially the language and particular forms of expression that the learner uses to interpret and build knowledge. This combined with Hofstede (1986), "the focus of the teacher's training should be on learning about his/her own culture, getting intellectually or emotionally accustomed to the fact that in other societies, people learn in different ways", justify the intends of this research to link learning with culture. Nevertheless, for Washam (2001) Hofstede type variables may have limited value as sensitizing devices to cultural difference, deeper local culture understanding and a process-oriented view as to how culture is implicated in IT adoption and use process.

Ethics refers to moral norms and principles that can cause different ethical judgments if based on local customs and laws.

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