, Volume 62, Issue 4, pp 383–392 | Cite as

Cross-cultural Dialogues in an Open Online Course: Navigating National and Organizational Cultural Differences

  • Vanessa P. DennenEmail author
  • Jiyae Bong
Original Paper


This study examines the interactions of educators and instructional designers during a four-week open online professional development course about using social media in education. Discourse analysis was used to elucidate points where national and organizational cultural differences arose, noting whether and how learners expressed and bridged differences. Findings suggest that the learners first identified with their national culture, and then, if they did not experience any cultural challenges, began to explore topics related to organizational culture. In this course, Chinese students were most likely to experience national cultural challenges, and Western participants were most likely to raise organizational culture issues. Language and national political climate also played a role in how and what learners expressed in an online learning environment. Flexible course design and facilitation can be used to help make learners from all cultural backgrounds feel more comfortable and engage in cross-cultural sharing.


online discussion online learning MOOC national culture organizational culture social media 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical approval

This study was approved by the researchers’ Institutional Review Board, and all procedures involving human participants were in accordance with these ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

Vanessa Dennen declares that she has no conflicts of interest. Jiyae Bong declares that she has no conflicts of interest.


  1. Aparicio, M., Bacao, F., & Oliveira, T. (2016). Cultural impacts on e-learning systems' success. The Internet and Higher Education, 31, 58–70. Scholar
  2. Arenas-Gaitán, J., Ramírez-Correa, P. E., & Rondán-Cataluña, F. J. (2011). Cross cultural analysis of the use and perceptions of web based learning systems. Computers & Education, 57(2), 1762–1774. Scholar
  3. Boven, D. (2013). The next game changer: The historical antecedents of the MOOC movement in education. E-learning papers, 33, 1–7.Google Scholar
  4. Chen, R. T.-H., & Bennett, S. (2012). When Chinese learners meet constructivist pedagogy online. Higher Education, 64(3), 677–691. Scholar
  5. Cronjé, J. C. (2011). Using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions to interpret cross-cultural blended teaching and learning. Computers & Education, 56(3), 596–603. Scholar
  6. Dennen, V., & Bong, J. (2015). Behind the scenes of an independent MOOC: Instructional design problems and solutions. International Journal for Educational Media and Technology, 9(1), 25–31.Google Scholar
  7. Fernandez, D. R., Carlson, D. S., Stepina, L. P., & Nicholson, J. D. (1997). Hofstede's country classification 25 years later. The Journal of Social Psychology, 137(1), 43–54. Scholar
  8. de Freitas, S. I., Morgan, J., & Gibson, D. (2015). Will MOOCs transform learning and teaching in higher education? Engagement and course retention in online learning provision. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(3), 455–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gover, L., Halinski, M., & Duxbury, L. (2016). Is it just me? Exploring perceptions of organizational culture change. British Journal of Management, 27(3), 567–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hofstede, G. (1983). National cultures in four dimensions: A research-based theory of cultural differences among nations. International Studies of Management & Organization, 13(1–2), 46–74. Scholar
  11. Hofstede, G. (1986). Cultural differences in teaching and learning. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 10(3), 301–320. Scholar
  12. Hofstede, G., Neuijen, B., Ohayv, D. D., & Sanders, G. (1990). Measuring organizational cultures: A qualitative and quantitative study across twenty cases. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, 286–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jackson, S. (2011). Organizational culture and information systems adoption: A three-perspective approach. Information and Organization, 21, 57–83. Scholar
  14. Jasimuddin, S. M., & Hasan, I. (2015). Organizational culture, structure, technology infrastructure and knowledge sharing. Vine, 45(1), 67–88. Scholar
  15. Kang, H., & Chang, B. (2016). Examining culture's impact on the learning behaviors of international students from Confucius culture studying in Western online learning context. Journal of International Students, 6(3), 779–797.Google Scholar
  16. Kim, Y., Sohn, D., & Choi, S. M. (2011). Cultural difference in motivations for using social network sites: A comparative study of American and Korean college students. Computers in Human Behavior, 27(1), 365–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Leidner, D. E., & Kayworth, T. (2006). A review of culture in information systems research. Toward a theory of information technology culture conflict MIS Quarterly, 30(2), 357–399.Google Scholar
  18. Lewin, T. (2012). Instruction for masses knocks down campus walls. New York Times.Google Scholar
  19. Milheim, K. L. (2014). Facilitation across cultures in the online classroom. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research, 5(1). Available online at:
  20. Phirangee, K., & Malec, A. (2017). Othering in online learning: an examination of social presence, identity, and sense of community. Distance Education, 38(2), 160–172. Scholar
  21. Psathas, G. (1999). Studying the organization in action: Membership categorization and interaction analysis. Human Studies, 22(2/4), 139–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Resta, P., & Laferrière, T. (2015). Digital equity and intercultural education. Education and Information Technologies, 20(4), 743–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schegloff, E. A. (2007). A tutorial on membership categorization. Journal of Pragmatics, 39(3), 462–482. Scholar
  24. Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked participatory scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education, 58, 766–774. Scholar
  25. Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2013). Scholars and faculty members’ lived experiences in online social networks. The Internet and Higher Education, 16, 43–30. Scholar
  26. Viberg, O., & Grönlund, Å. (2013). Cross-cultural analysis of users' attitudes toward the use of mobile devices in second and foreign language learning in higher education: A case from Sweden and China. Computers & Education, 69, 169–180. Scholar
  27. Yuen, A. H., Park, J. H., Chen, L., & Cheng, M. (2017). Digital equity in cultural context: exploring the influence of Confucian heritage culture on Hong Kong families. Educational Technology Research and Development, 65(2), 481–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zhang, J. (2010). Technology-supported learning innovation in cultural contexts. Educational Technology Research and Development, 58(2), 229–243. Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications & Technology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instructional Systems & Learning TechnologiesFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

Personalised recommendations