Cross-cultural learning projects were carried out in learning environments created using Web 1.0 or Web 2.0 technologies in previous related studies. However, such environments have a limited ability to provide learners with immersive learning experiences of a foreign culture and fail to make them feel virtually present in a foreign cultural context. In this study, we aimed to create such an environment, one that enables not only communication among learners from different cultures but also gives them a sense of presence and provides an immersive experience in a foreign culture without their being physically there. To this end, based on the cultural convergence theory, we designed a cross-cultural learning activity in virtual reality (VR) using a 360-degree video technology. Two groups of university students, one from China (n = 10) and the other from Uzbekistan (n = 11), who exchanged culture-related information with each other, participated in the activity. We investigated whether cross-cultural understanding and the trait emotional intelligence of the participants was facilitated after their participation in the activity. In addition, we explored the participants sense of perceived presence in the VR environment and their acceptance of VR technology. A mixed methods research approach was adopted. We analyzed the reflective journals of the participants, administered three questionnaires, and interviewed the participants. We obtained the following four findings: First, the participants had no prior knowledge of their foreign partners’ cultures and traditions before the learning activity; however, they had knowledge that they could summarize, explain, compare, and contrast at the end of the activity. Second, the comparison of the results of the pre- and post-questionnaires showed that the two trait emotional intelligence constructs (i.e., self-control and emotionality) were significantly improved from the beginning of the activity to its end. Third, the participants perceived a high level of presence in the VR environment. Finally, the participants accepted VR technology in terms of its usefulness for cross-cultural learning and ease of use. The originality of this study lies in creating cross-cultural learning environments based on a 360-degree video technology that enables communication across cultures and gives learners a sense of presence and an immersive experience. The value of the study for the literature and its contribution to theoretical knowledge is that it creates virtual cross-cultural learning environments based on a 360-degree video technology and presents evidence suggesting that the cross-cultural learning environments created in this study can facilitate cross-cultural knowledge and perceived self-control, emotionality, and sense of presence.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but will be provided by the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Avgousti, M. I. (2018). Cross-cultural communicative competence and online exchanges: A systematic review. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 31(8), 819–853.
Bryant, R. (2001). What kind of space is cyberspace. Minerva-an Internet Journal of Philosophy, 5(2001), 138–141.
Bulu, S. T. (2012). Place presence, social presence, co-presence, and satisfaction in virtual worlds. Computers & Education, 58, 154–161.
Çakiroğlu, Ü., & Gökoğlub, S. (2019). Development of fire safety behavioral skills via virtual reality. Computers & Education, 133, 56–68.
Cebeci, B., Celikcan, U., & Capin, T. K. (2019). A comprehensive study of the affective and physiological responses induced by dynamic virtual reality environments. Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds, 30, 1–12.
Chen, J. J., & Yang, S. C. (2014). Fostering foreign language learning through technology-enhanced cross-cultural projects. Language Learning & Technology, 18(1), 57–75.
Chen, M., Zee, M., Koomen, H. M., & Roorda, D. L. (2019). Understanding cross-cultural differences in affective teacher-student relationships: A comparison between Dutch and Chinese primary school teachers and students. Journal of School Psychology, 76, 89–106.
Chen, Y. J., & Yang, S. C. (2016). Promoting cross-cultural understanding and language use in research-oriented Internet-mediated cross-cultural exchange. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(2), 262–288.
Chien, S. Y., Hwang, G. J., & Jong, M. S. Y. (in press). Effects of peer assessment within the context of spherical video-based virtual reality on EFL students’ english-speaking performance and learning perceptions. Computers & Education, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.103751
Çiftçi, E. Y. (2016). A review of research on cross-cultural learning through computer-based digital technologies. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 19(2), 313–327.
Davis, F. D. (1989). Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Quarterly, 13(3), 319–340.
de Albuquerque Moreira, A. M., Paul, J. J., & Bagnall, N. (2019). The contribution of comparative studies and cross-cultural approach to understanding higher education in the contemporary world. Intercultural studies in higher education (pp. 1–20). Palgrave Macmillan.
Ghafoor, H., Ahmad, R. A., Nordbeck, P., Ritter, O., Pauli, P., & Schulz, S. M. (2019). A cross-cultural comparison of the roles of emotional intelligence, metacognition, and negative coping for health-related quality of life in German versus Pakistani patients with chronic heart failure. British Journal of Health Psychology, 24, 1–19.
Gudykunst, W. B., Ting-Toomey, S., & Chua, E. (1988). Culture and interpersonal communication. Sage Publications, Inc.
Higuera-Trujillo, J. L., Maldonado, J. L., & Millan, C. L. (2017). Psychological and physiological human responses to simulated and real environments: A comparison between photographs, 360° panoramas, and virtual reality. Applied Ergonomics, 65, 398–409.
Hsu, S. Y., & Beasley, R. (2019). The effects of international email and Skype interactions on computer-mediated communication perceptions and attitudes and cross-cultural competence in Taiwanese students. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 35(1), 149–162.
Huang, H.-L., Hwang, G.-J., & Chang, C.-Y. (in press). Learning to be a writer: A spherical video-based virtual reality approach to supporting descriptive article writing in high school Chinese courses. British Journal of Educational Technology. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12893
Istiqomah, L. (2017). Engaging students in video creation on cross-cultural understanding: A new approach toward digital storytelling. The proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Language, Literature and Teaching (pp. 93–101). Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta Press.
Jiménez-Murcia, S., Fernández-Aranda, F., Kalapanidas, E., Konstantas, D., Ganchev, T., Kocsis, O., Lam, T., Santamaría, J. J., Raguin, T., Breiteneder, C., & Kaufmann, H. (2009). Playmancer project: a serious videogame as an additional therapy tool for eating and impulse control disorders. Interactive Media Institute.
Jin, S. (2015). Using Facebook to promote Korean EFL learners’ cross-cultural competence. Language Learning & Technology, 19(3), 38–51.
Kincaid, D. L. (1979). The convergence model of communication. East-West Center.
Luna, P., Guerrero, J., & Cejudo, J. (2019). Improving adolescents’ subjective well-being, trait emotional intelligence and social anxiety through a programme based on the sport education model. International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health, 16, 1–13.
Oldenburg, R. (1999). The great good place: Cafes, coffee shops, bookstores, bars, hair salons, and other hangouts at the heart of a community. Da Capo Press.
Petrides, K. V. (2009). Psychometric properties of the trait emotional intelligence questionnaire. In C. Stough, D. H. Saklofske, & J. D. Parker (Eds.), Advances in the assessment of emotional intelligence. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-88370-0_5
Petrides, K. V., Pita, R., & Kokkinaki, F. (2007). The location of trait emotional intelligence in personality factor space. British Journal of Psychology, 98, 273–289.
Riva, G., Mantovani, F., Capideville, C. S., Preziosa, A., Morganti, F., Villani, D., Gaggiolo, A., Botella, C., & Alcaniz, M. (2007). Affective interactions using virtual reality: The link between presence and emotions. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(1), 45–56.
Ruiz-Ariza, A., Casuso, R. A., Suarez-Manzano, S., & Martínez-Lopez, E. J. (2018). Effect of augmented reality game Pokemon GO on cognitive performance and emotional intelligence in adolescent young. Computers & Education, 116, 49–63.
Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. D. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 9(3), 185–211. https://doi.org/10.2190/DUGG-P24E-52WK-6CDG
Shadiev, R., & Huang, Y. M. (2020). Exploring the influence of technological support, cultural constructs, and social networks on online cross-cultural learning. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 36(3), 104–118. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.6038
Shadiev, R., Wang, X. Y., & Huang, Y. M. (2020). Promoting intercultural competence in a learning activity supported by virtual reality technology. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 21(3), 157–174. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v21i3.4752
Shadiev, R., & Huang, Y. M. (2016). Facilitating cross-cultural understanding with learning activities supported by speech-to-text recognition and computer-aided translation. Computers & Education, 98, 130–141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2016.03.013
Shadiev, R., & Sintawati, W. (2020). A review of research on intercultural learning supported by technology. Educational Research Review, 31, 100338. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2020.100338
Shadiev, R., Sun, A., & Huang, Y. M. (2019). A study of the facilitation of cross-cultural understanding and intercultural sensitivity using speech-enabled language translation technology. British Journal of Educational Technology, 50(3), 1415–1433. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12648
Shadiev, R., Wang, X. Y., Wu, T. T., & Huang, Y. M. (2021). Review of research on technology-supported cross-cultural learning. Sustainability, 13(3), 1402. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031402
Shadiev, R., Wu, T. T., Sun, A., & Huang, Y. M. (2018). Applications of speech-to-text recognition and computer-aided translation for facilitating cross-cultural learning through a learning activity: Issues and their solutions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 66(1), 191–214. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-017-9556-8
Shao, K., Ji, Z., & Yu, W. (2013). An exploration of Chinese EFL students’ emotional intelligence and foreign language anxiety. The Modern Language Journal, 97(4), 917–929.
Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Sage.
Terkildsen, T., & Makransky, G. (2019). Measuring presence in video games: An investigation of the potential use of physiological measures as indicators of presence. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 126, 64–80.
Triberti, S., Brivio, E., & Galimberti, C. (2018). On social presence: theories, methodologies, and guidelines for the innovative contexts of computer-mediated learning. Enhancing social presence in online learning environments (pp. 20–41). IGI Global.
Vettehen, P. H., Wiltink, D., Huiskamp, M., Schaap, G., & Ketelaar, P. (2019). Taking the full view: How viewers respond to 360-degree video news. Computers in Human Behavior, 91, 24–32.
Walshe, N., & Driver, P. (2019). Developing reflective trainee teacher practice with 360-degree video. Teaching and Teacher Education, 78, 97–105.
Walters, L. M., Garii, B., & Walters, T. (2009). Learning globally, teaching locally: Incorporating international exchange and cross-cultural learning into pre-service teacher training. Cross-Cultural Education, 20(sup1), S151–S158.
Wang, Y. F., Petrina, S., & Feng, F. (2015). VILLAGE—virtual immersive language learning and gaming environment: Immersion and presence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 48, 1–20.
Waytz, A., & Gray, K. (2018). Does online technology make us more or less sociable? A preliminary review and call for research. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(4), 473–491.
Witmer, B. G., Jerome, C. J., & Singer, M. J. (2005). The factor structure of the presence questionnaire. Presence, 14(3), 298–312.
Witmer, B. G., & Singer, M. J. (1998). Measuring presence in virtual environments: A presence questionnaire. Presence, 7(3), 225–240.
Wu, Z. (2018). Positioning (mis)aligned: The (un)making of intercultural asynchronous computer-mediated communication. Language Learning & Technology, 22(2), 75–94.
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The study was approved by the ethics committee of Nanjing Normal University, China and performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Shadiev, R., Wang, X. & Huang, YM. Cross-cultural learning in virtual reality environment: facilitating cross-cultural understanding, trait emotional intelligence, and sense of presence. Education Tech Research Dev 69, 2917–2936 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-021-10044-1
- 360-degree video
- Cross-cultural understanding
- Trait emotional intelligence
- Virtual reality