Navigation – Plan du site

Addressing cultural diversity in preparing teachers for openness: culturally sensitive appropriation of open content

Prendre en compte la diversité culturelle dans la formation des enseignants à l'ouverture : pour une appropriation des contenus ouverts sensible à la diversité culturelle
Malgorzata Kurek

Résumés

La question de contenus éducatifs libres et de l'accès à ce type de ressources est souvent discutée en recherches en sciences de l'éducation, mais ce n'est que très récemment que l'accent a été mis sur la réutilisation et l'adaptation de ressources éducatives libres (REL). Cette question s'applique particulièrement à des projets qui visent le transfert d'innovation puisqu'ils ont pour objectif la dissémination de pratiques et de philosophies d'apprentissage dans des pays et des cultures différents. Trop souvent l'échange de contenus pédagogiques se fait dans une seule direction sans se préoccuper des particularités locales de contextes qui sont culturellement très différents. Notre article prend comme point de départ l'idée suivante : puisque le potentiel adaptif des contenus libres représente un élément essentiel des REL, la relation entre le contenu de départ et son adaptation locale ultérieure doit constituer un indice de qualité de la conception pédagogique d'une ressource (Conole & Ehlers, 2010 ; King, 2013). Cette notion est à rapprocher de la tendance actuelle à faire un lien entre la qualité éducative d'une ressource et sa pertinence par rapport aux besoins des apprenants (Tikly & Barrett, 2011). Dans le domaine de la formation des enseignants, ceci implique qu'une appropriation progressive de pratiques nouvelles est plus probable quand celles-ci sont conformes aux valeurs pédagogiques et pratiques quotidiennes. C'est ainsi que nous soulignons l'importance de l'attention portée aux processus de localisation et d'adaptation pédagogiques pour faire en sorte que les ressources et les pratiques aient une validité culturelle pour les utilisateurs et qu'elles répondent à leur contexte éducatif unique. Dans cet article nous examinons les stratégies adoptées par des enseignants et formateurs dans six pays différents lors de l'adaptation culturelle de ressources pour la formation des enseignants dans le domaine des REL. Les dimensions traitées lors de notre analyse comprennent certains aspects qualifiés généralement de sensibles sur le plan culturel mais qui sont, en même temps, des éléments essentiels du mouvement REL, à savoir : le centrage sur l'apprenant ou sur l'enseignant ; le rôle de l'apprentissage collaboratif ; l'adaptation technologique ; la posture face au changement et à la nouveauté ; l'utilisation de l'anglais ; le partage de ressources. Notre analyse révèle la nécessité d'une prise en compte des différentes caractéristiques des contextes nationaux pour une adaptation efficace de ressources éducatives libres. Un environnement d'apprentissage qui est conçu pour l'appropriation par des publics culturellement divers doit fournir tâches d'apprentissage, technologies et soutien pédagogique qui laissent une large place à ces perspectives variées.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

I would like to thank my colleagues and project partners for their time and commitment; their exhaustive explanations helped me collect the data for this study. I am particularly grateful to Katerina Zourou for her insightful comments. The study reported here has been supported by the EC-funded project, LangOER: Enhancing teaching and learning of less-used languages through Open Educational Resources and Practices. The information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

1. Theoretical framework

1.1. Open Educational Resources (OER)

1The massive emergence of technologies enabling users to reuse, modify and share content has led educators to open up materials and practices in many areas. The openness paradigm assumes open access to educational resources and public visibility of educational practices and has become a prerequisite for major educational trends of today; including the focus on learner autonomy, the role of peer-to-peer learning and the merging of formal and informal education, as well as the pressing need for life-long learning and equal educational opportunities. Universal access to educational resources and practices is becoming an increasingly important principle underpinning various didactic models, many of them implemented online. Indeed, it is online learning environments that currently serve as the most natural context for resources to be repurposed, remixed, re-published and, finally, delivered to culturally dispersed participants.

2The enormous diversity and editability of OER make them potentially universal in terms of pedagogy and audience since, depending on type, format and the scope of the modification allowed, they can be flexibly reused and adapted to any classroom. McGreal (2013) observes that OER can in fact be neutral in terms of learning theories because they can accommodate either teacher-centred instruction in the form of behavioural online drilling or promote learner-centred collaborative knowledge construction through modifiable web quest scenarios. Ng'ambi and Luo (2013) note that open content is perhaps best viewed as individual pieces designed to be unique entities, created by different people to serve different educational contexts and purposes. In this sense, OER are often advertised as building blocks from which educators can flexibly build a learning environment to fit any specific educational context. With this in mind, it is reasonable to see the promise and quality of OER not as residing inherently in the resources themselves but emerging in the relation between a particular type of material and the way in which it is appropriated and integrated in a given educational context (Conole & Ehlers, 2010; Bateman, Lane & Moon, 2012; King, 2013). Indeed, quality adaptation of OER for local contexts is currently seen as the greatest challenge in the openness movement (Wolfenden, Buckler & Keraro, 2012). Being able to overcome this difficulty can help address problems with sustainability of OER, and this issue is thoroughly investigated by MacKinnon, Pasfield, Grant, and Manns (2016, this issue). As they observe following Downes (2007), sustainability and, thus, longevity of resources is enhanced if their content is flexible and adaptation-friendly.

3In this article I will show that the mere openness of educational content does not guarantee its smooth replication in other, culturally distinct contexts. In the process of cross-cultural adaptation, especially in the field of teacher training, proper attention needs to be given not only to the cultural flavour of local settings, but also to the pedagogical realities, practices and priorities of end-users. This specifically applies to projects promoting transfer of innovation which disseminate mainstream practices and philosophies of learning. As I will argue, in order to maximise the appropriateness of the OER and reduce confusion resulting from how various pedagogical dimensions are interpreted and realised in culturally different communities, educators and content developers need to play an active role in the process of creating and adapting instructional content (Buckler, Perryman, Seal & Musafir, 2014) and should be autonomous in their judgements and decisions about which modifications respond best to their unique contexts.

1.2. Localisation and cultural appropriation

4With potential for modification being the underlying principle of open educational content, attention needs to be given to situations in which resources created for one cultural context are to be used in another–culturally, pedagogically, technically or even politically different one. Such situations are common in the OER movement for two major reasons: first, the principle of re-use, repurposing and adaptation lies at its very heart and, second, openness is perceived as a means for equalising access to education, especially in developing and culturally distant countries (Atenas & Havemann, 2014). When it comes to the latter, the content is usually created in developed countries and transferred top-down to those in need of pedagogical innovation (see Buckler et al., 2014; Perryman, Buckler & Seal, 2014). If not congruent with end-users' teaching beliefs, values and the local prevailing philosophy of teaching, the novel content or instruction is likely to remain alien and unproductive (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010).

5In the context of cross-cultural transfer of content, the concept of localisation or appropriation is increasingly used to refer to the processes of cross-cultural adaptation of learning materials so that they respond to the unique learning and teaching needs of end users with no harm to the original quality of both content and instruction. This sort of culturally relevant modification is needed to assist users, especially teachers, in the gradual acceptance of novel practices (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010). Whyte, (2016, this issue) in her study of teacher trainees confirms that teacher training should be "anchored in teacher's own specific teaching contexts". There is substantial evidence that teachers' beliefs, attitudes and personal feelings influence the adoption of new models and technologies. If trainees are instructed in a way which aligns with their pedagogical values, experiences, and daily practices, they are more inclined to accommodate the innovation (Gabillon, 2013; Rolfe, 2012). Moreover, culturally relevant adaptation increases the authenticity of instruction, as tasks which are authentic in a one context may lose their authenticity in another.

6Drawing on the above, it can be assumed that open educational content, created for a given context should not be seen as culturally pre-determined but should lend itself to flexible appropriation to other educational cultures (Collis, 1999; Henderson, 1996). Visser (2007) sees contextualisation and cultural adaptation of educational materials as the major condition for full development of the individual. Parrish and Linder-VanBerschot (2010) report on the possible tensions between making materials culturally universal and the need to accommodate the unique characteristics of local contexts. Thomas, Mitchell and Joseph (2002) emphasise the need for cultural adaptation of both content and instruction. As they put it, "Culture is so much a part of the construction of knowledge that it must underpin not only the analysis phase but all phases of the design process" (Thomas, Mitchell & Joseph, 2002: 4). Rivens Mompean and Guichon (2013) demonstrate that educational materials may remain unexplored if their adaptation is not appropriate. They describe the process of local appropriation of a complex multimedia learning system to culturally different institutions and conclude that despite their "intrinsic qualities" educational resources may remain unexplored if the process of their adaptation is inadequate. As they confirm, full integration into a local educational context is possible if the materials are supported with adequate teaching scenarios and provided they become validated by users and their institutions (Rivens Mompean & Guichon, 2013: 39).

7The most conspicuous contexts for localisation are those which are culturally and geographically distant. Many of them are low-income countries, in which teachers work in resource-deprived settings with limited access to pedagogical innovations. In such contexts, open content is often the only way of equalising educational opportunities for teachers and learners alike. Perryman et al. (2014) describe difficulties associated with localising OER to the culturally and linguistically diverse context of India. They draw attention to issues such as translation challenges, users' lack of pedagogical experience or their unfamiliarity with the OER movement, as well as a range of pedagogy-related difficulties, including users' unfamiliarity with activity-based learning. As the authors explain, the localisation process in such a culturally and linguistically complicated context requires skilled manoeuvring between the original and local pedagogical approaches.

8Both Buckler et al. (2014) and Perryman et al. (2014) confirm that many barriers to cultural appropriation may be socially determined. For instance, they may result from the locally observed hierarchical structures or the culturally grounded concept of knowledge ownership. The facilitators' concerns that new practices interfere with the commonly acknowledged status may prevent their efficient localisation. Both Buckler et al. (2014) and Perryman et al. (2014) support the idea of making OER users collaborate in a collegial community of practice (Wenger, 1998), to assist them in engaging "in mutually beneficial sharing of expertise and contextual understanding" (Perryman et al., 2014: 1). Wolfenden et al. (2012) in a study of applying the TESSA (Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa) project in nine countries of Sub Saharan Africa, provide examples of adaptation strategies used for content modification. They enumerate the strategies of replacing names, cultural stories and historical events with culturally relevant ones. The most complex adaptation was that of aligning the resources with the national curriculum; here realised by adding or omitting those which were incongruent. This is in accordance with Beaven, Comas-Quinn, Hauck, de los Arcos and Lewis (2013) who recall that novel content may require changes to contextual elements to guarantee conformity with local history and to incorporate culturally relevant examples.

1.3. The role of educational cultures

9Open educational content is usually localised through translation (eg Beaven et al., 2013). As popular as this strategy is, it addresses the most conspicuous cultural differences related to content, while leaving instructional techniques and task design intact. This can be problematic if there exist cultural preferences for how educational content should be selected, organised, modified and, finally, delivered. Indeed, all educational systems are inevitably shaped by their local socio-political cultures (Hall & Hall, 1990; Rubenstein, 2006). In the related literature it is common to point to the permeating role of motivation or collectivistic vs individualistic orientation in the shaping of didactic approaches, classroom atmosphere, formulation of curriculum, and, last but not least, the interactions between teachers and students (eg Hofstede, 1986). For instance, Rubenstein (2006: 436) notes that many Eastern cultures still cultivate traditional teacher-centred classrooms, in which teachers follow a "highly-ordered pattern of classroom activity". Even if those patterns are being gradually replaced with more learner-centred ones, they take years to take root and develop. In their investigation of various pedagogical dimensions of web-based instruction, Reeves and Reeves (1997) warn that pedagogical values, which are seen as central to one culture, may seem culturally inappropriate in another. As they explain, this may refer to the teacher and learner roles, attitudes to collaboration, task orientation or source of motivation. Parrish and Linder-VanBerschot (2010) investigate several aspects of what they term the Cultural Dimension of the Learning Framework (CDLF). They identify social relationships, epistemological beliefs and temporal perceptions as the main areas in which cultural differences can significantly affect instruction.

10The unique qualities of diverse educational contexts may affect learners' response to the training materials, too. For example, trainees whose educational cultures are collectivist rather than individualist will readily embrace collaborative activity in group discussions or project work. On the other hand, participants whose educational cultures favour teacher authority, are more likely to await precise instructions from the teacher even if the task is open and the environment is highly interactive (Liu, Liu & Magjuka, 2010). Culturally different educational backgrounds may also breed various interpretations of seemingly uniform pedagogical concepts, which can be observed in educational contexts in which interaction and collaboration take place between culturally diverse individuals. For example, Müller-Hartmann and Kurek (2016) report on cultural differences in how German and Polish students participating in an online intercultural exchange understood the concept of task design. While German student teachers saw this mainly through the lense of learner-centred activities, promoting the development of Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC), the Polish participants concentrated on individual teacher-controlled and skill-oriented language activities. In a similar context of intercultural online exchanges, Turula (2015) investigated the impact of high- and low-context specificity (see Hall, 1976) on students' perceptions of telecollaborative tasks. As she found out, students representing high-context cultures interpreted on-task performance in a highly emotional manner, showed overreliance on social relationships and saw feedback as potentially face-threatening. This was in stark contrast with the neutral perception of tasks and feedback represented by low-context telecollaborative partners.

2. The setting and the data

11The current study into cultural appropriation of open content has been set out in the context of the EU-funded project LangOER (Enhancing teaching and learning of less-used languages through Open Educational Resources and Practices). It was conceived to popularise the concept of openness in the context of less-used and less-taught languages, on the assumption that although there exists a bulk of such resources in English and other mainstream languages, smaller, local languages remain underrepresented in the openness movement. The dominant position of English can be perceived as a barrier since, first, the language may not be known to local instructors and, second, the popularity of resources in English may prevent educators from creating the content in other, less popular, languages, leading to one-directional flow of educational content from more to less-developed countries (Glennie, Harley, Butcher & van Wyk, 2012).

12In an attempt to tackle the issue, the LangOER project brought together educators and researchers representing linguistic contexts as diverse as Frisian, Latvian and Latgalian, Swedish, Lithuanian, Polish, Greek and Norwegian. One of the major project activities was therefore the design and delivery of dedicated teacher training courses, equipping local teachers with adequate skills and helping them to develop positive attitudes to open practices. Since openness is more a philosophy than a set of skills, the underlying assumption behind this training was that the objectives could be reached if the instructional content and strategies were in tune with local teachers' beliefs, practices and their local priorities.

13The prototype instructional design was first delivered in a 30-hour piloting master course which, in order to maintain the validity and reliability of instruction, was delivered online via the Open Learning platform (https://www.openlearning.com/​courses/​goingopenwithlangoer) to a multicultural group of educators, representing various educational contexts and levels of expertise. The course took place in November and December 2015. Its content was structured according to the four stages of openness suggested by Hilton, Wiley, Stein and Johnson (2010) and included:

  • Module 1: Introduction to openness

  • Module 2: Revising and Reusing

  • Module3: Redistributing: Towards open practices

  • Module 4: Remixing: sharing and publishing

14Following the course evaluation, six colleagues were tasked with appropriately transferring the course to fit their national educational contexts. The process of instructional design is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1–The phases of the process of instructional design: Preparing teachers for openness.

Figure 1–The phases of the process of instructional design: Preparing teachers for openness.

15In order to facilitate the prospective process of local appropriation, the course content was developed in line with the following design principles:

  • a broad choice of pedagogically varied activities, technologies and formats;

  • the modularisation of content;

  • limited use of highly contextual materials (Edmundson, 2007).

16While the prototype instruction was delivered entirely online via the Open Learning platform, the local appropriation had to include in-situ sessions, with the instructors free to decide about the ratio of online and in-class learning.

17The following study concentrates on the local appropriation phase (Phase 4) and the subsequent delivery of culturally adapted content, as depicted in Figure 1. The cascading structure of local appropriation created a unique opportunity to observe how the same online content was appropriated to six culturally different educational settings–some of them perceived as culturally monolithic– (eg Polish, Lithuanian, Greek) and therefore, highly context-specific, whereas others are perceived as multilingual (Latvian/Latgalian, Dutch/Frisian). The target languages included Greek, Dutch/Frisian, Lithuanian, Swedish, Polish and Latvian. All the instructors engaged in instructional design were experienced teacher trainers, knowledgeable of their local educational cultures. All of them had taken part in the piloting course (Phase 3) and were actively involved in the local appropriation of the content and its subsequent delivery (Phase 4), which is the main focus of this study.

18As regards target participants, most local courses were typically attended by certified, experienced teachers, many of whom were language teachers. The most diverse in terms of educational levels and subjects was the Polish group, whose participants represented all levels of education, including pre-school and post-secondary education. Most groups were predominantly female, except for a balanced representation of male and female participants in the Frisian group.

3. Methods of analysis

19The research presented here was designed as a small-scale, exploratory study aimed at understanding how the process of OER pedagogical appropriation of open content was understood and navigated in six different European contexts. The exploratory study approach seems particularly adequate for the intended investigation since, so far, few studies have investigated the processes of content appropriation. The data were gathered after the whole round of local courses was complete. The main tool of data collection was a questionnaire distributed to six experienced colleagues involved in the process of the appropriation in question. The questionnaire, (Annex) used mainly open-ended questions following O'Cathain and Thomas's (2004) suggestion that closed questions reflect the researcher's rather than the respondent's perspective. The questions covered the descriptions of the training recipients, guided descriptions of the challenges experienced during the appropriation in the areas of organisation, language adaptation, content, technology and teacher attitudes; the major variations from the prototype and criteria for employing them, as well as the choice of dominant forms of adaptation used. A question in which the instructors were to evaluate their local educational cultures used 5-point continuums on which the respondents were to gauge the perceived intensity of learner centredness, attitudes to sharing, educational innovation, collaborative learning, use of English and technology use. The final question investigated the role of the online component and the dominant instruction techniques for in-situ meetings.

20Apart from the questionnaires, additional data were collected in complementary interviews with some course instructors, as well as through a hands-on investigation of the modified resources available online. All the instructors were native to their local contexts and had extensive experience in teacher training delivery.

21In particular, the study presented here sought to answer the following research questions:

  • How do local instructional designers perceive the pedagogical characteristics of their local educational contexts?

  • What appropriation strategies did the instructors use to address the demands of their local pedagogical cultures?

  • What challenges did the instructors encounter in the process of pedagogical appropriation?

4. Local educational cultures and appropriation strategies

22The data collected in the questionnaires permitted a comparison of how the same set of OER had been adapted to various national contexts. A summary of cultural differences is set out in Figure 2. It shows the diversity of target contexts, as well as the wide range of challenges and local constraints that the educators had to cope with. The sections below will briefly present the major traits.

4.1. Instructors' perception of local educational cultures

23The first research question posed in this study addressed the issue of how local instructional designers perceive the pedagogical characteristics of their local educational contexts.

24Drawing on the substantial research into the role of cultural dimensions in affecting teaching and learning, our intention was to capture instructors' perceptions of their educational cultures. The dimensions selected for comparison included those commonly referred to as culturally sensitive and, at the same time, rendered central for modern education and the openness movement. They included 1) learner/teacher centredness; 2) the role of collaborative learning; 3) technology adaptation; 4) attitudes to change and novelty; 5) use of English and 6) attitudes to sharing. For each of the dimensions, the instructors were asked to refer to their teacher training experience and place their choices on a scale ranging from 1, meaning that the particular feature was felt to be underrepresented, to 5, meaning that it was seen as intensely present. The descriptors were provided for the beginning and end values only. The intention was to capture the dominant characteristics of a given educational culture, as seen from an experienced teacher trainer's perspective, but–obviously–it was assumed that within any educational culture, individual teachers could differ in how strongly they aligned with these tendencies. Importantly, the intention was not to provide a generalised picture of particular cultures but, rather, demonstrate the diversity of contexts to which the materials had to be adapted. Figure 2 illustrates the distribution of values attributed to the criteria by local course adaptors. In order to avoid reinforcing cultural bias and stereotyping, each of the local contexts has been anonymised, with letters of the alphabet (A, B, C, D, E, F) replacing particular national contexts.

Figure 2–Instructors' perceptions of their local educational cultures (A, B, C, D, E, F).

Figure 2–Instructors' perceptions of their local educational cultures (A, B, C, D, E, F).
The results confirm the initial hypothesis that despite the relative proximity of the cultures and their seemingly uniform European provenience, each of the local contexts for appropriation represents a distinctly different educational culture. The biggest disparities can be seen for learner centredness, with each of the cultures representing it to a different degree. For example, as instructor F admitted, the educational system in culture F is "in transition from teacher-centred to learner-oriented approaches". Instructor C commented that in their educational culture "while adult education is learner-centred indeed, it is more teacher-centred at schools". Similar distribution can be seen in the category of attitudes to collaboration, with culture B being most collaborative-oriented and culture F the least ("Teachers in my country avoid collaborative tasks"). Strong discrepancies can also be seen in relation to the popularity of English. While instructors B and C saw their educational cultures as fluent in English, for the instructor representing culture F, English as a language of educational content was a barrier rather than a facilitation ("English is truly a foreign language here. Very few teachers know it well". Instructor F, questionnaire).

25In the context of the training it was important to check whether course facilitators were aware of the local teachers' attitudes to sharing, especially since "it is within consciousness that open practices are enabled" (Peter & Deimann, 2013:10). For example, teachers representing culture C were perceived by the local instructor as ready to embrace the sharing practices, while instructors from educational cultures A, D and F, saw them as less prepared for openness and sharing practices. As instructor A explained: "Adaptation is definitely not common practice, nor is redistribution. Teachers tend to keep materials for themselves or, perhaps, share them with friends". This perception affected instructional design as, in an attempt to instil the openness values in course recipients, some facilitators increased the scope of awareness raising activities, such as discussions or explanatory video materials. In a similar vein, teachers' readiness for technology was prone to cultural differences, with culture F perceived as technology resistant and educational culture B seen as technologically advanced.

26Interestingly, Figure 2 shows that culture B is the most pedagogically advanced of all the educational contexts involved; something which was confirmed by the local facilitator on several occasions. Its teaching community was perceived as conforming with almost all the major educational trends, ie learner-centredness, readiness for collaboration, common fluency in English and positive attitudes towards embracing technology and novelty. Such a sublime pedagogical profile of prospective participants called for radical reorganisation of course content in order to meet their refined needs and expectations, which–indeed–was the strategy undertaken by the facilitator in charge.

4.2. Appropriation strategies

27The analysis of the materials created during the appropriation phase, as well as the data collected in the questionnaire, allow the adaptation strategies to be slotted into four major categories: linguistic (eg translation or subtitling), organisational (manipulating the ratio between face-to-face and online sessions), pedagogical (replacing, adjusting tasks and their instructions and replacing content) and technical (eg replacing tools or providing additional tutorials). The instructors were free to choose from these categories depending on their local conditions and their specific affordances and constraints. For example, the low working knowledge of English among teachers from cultures A and F (see Figure 2) forced local instructors to turn to translation (A, F, E), subtitling (D) and content substitution (F) as the major appropriation strategies. On the other hand, partners B and C, in whose pedagogical cultures English is commonly used, opted for content reorganisation and task redesign as dominant forms of appropriation.

28For example, instructor B, inspired by the high level pedagogical content knowledge of her prospective trainees, intuitively decided to capitalise on the distinct features of her local pedagogical culture, in particular the positive attitudes to novelty, collaboration and technology use and engaged teachers in the collaborative development of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) for the minority language they represented. This decision served as an important motivational factor since, as the instructor explained:

Most of the teachers [in my country] are overwhelmed with course offers which they can join for free (…) and they get the financial compensation for the hours they could spend on their jobs. (…) while with this project, the only tool we had was to trigger their enthusiasm and curiosity (instructor B, questionnaire).

29The strategy of increasing the novelty factor and turning to a "bottom-up crowd-sourcing initiative" in a pedagogically new context of a MOOC turned out to be a very efficient appropriation strategy, resulting in new partnerships being forged with other local educational institutions. It also required modifications in the instruction mode. As instructor B explained:

We had to step back from a (traditional) teacher role and become more of a moderator in the session. This worked better as participants worked more collaboratively and from their own intrinsic motivation (instructor B, questionnaire).

30The data collected in Table 2 also show that nearly all the instructors took an active approach to appropriation and, instead of simple content replication, chose to re-design the prototype tasks by adapting their instructions or technologies. For example, instructor E, who had also authored the master content, decided to develop additional tasks of varying technical complexity in order to address their participants' mixed digital abilities. Partner F, who saw technology adoption in her country as very monotonous ("Using similar tools without any diversity") decided to reduce selected descriptive content to provide teachers with more space for technology instruction and practice ("We had to shorten the content because (…) we wished to assist teachers in learning new digital tools", questionnaire).

31As can be seen, the values given to task amendment strategy are extremely high for all the partners, which proves high autonomy of instructors and their responsiveness to local needs. Table 1 presents the perceived importance of appropriation strategies as reported by local developers. The percentage values represent the weight given to a particular strategy, rather than its actual share, for which reason they do not add up to 100%.

Table 1–The importance of locally used appropriation strategies, as seen by local instructors.

Appropriation strategy

A

B

C

D

E

F

Verbatim translation

90%

50%

80%

5%

Replacing/adding content

10%

20%

40%

55%

Replacing tools

50 %

40%

20%

Changing instructions

20%

10%

60%

I used pilot tasks as inspiration for my own tasks

100%

100%

60%

40%

80%

Changing course structure

100%

5%

30%

20%

32As regards the use of linguistic strategies, such as translation or subtitling, this was obviously guided by the perceived position of English in the local culture. Translation is considered here in the context of translating content materials such as videos, texts or tutorials, since the instruction itself was always delivered in the local language. Instructors from cultures B/C did not use translation at all, while the instructor representing culture F either created subtitles or had to replace content with equivalents in her local language. Importantly, for partner A, who was aware of low working knowledge of English in his context, the translatability of instructional materials was one of the priorities in selecting them.

33An interesting strategy was linking the training with other locally approved or promoted initiatives and, thus, making the innovation fit national educational standards. For example, instructor A explained:

We tried to promote a currently running initiative from our Ministry of Education, concerning the production and adaptation of OERs and this has proved to be the right decision because the participants were very interested in it (instructor A, questionnaire).

34Also, instructor B appropriated the universal course into her local context by creating partnerships with other minority language-oriented institutions in her region.

4.3. Instructional challenges

35The third research question addressed in the study was the nature of challenges and obstacles encountered by local instructors in the process of pedagogical appropriation. These challenges were extremely diverse, from organisational and motivational (B, C), through technical (A, F) to linguistic ones (A, F), yet even within these categories, significant differences were reported. For example, one of the greatest challenges addressed by partner B was the need to attract participants amidst plentiful, locally available and high-quality professional development courses; most of them additionally subsidised. As previously mentioned, this motivational challenge was addressed by increasing the novelty factor as regards task design, as well as by addressing the positive attitudes to collaboration, which the instructor found typical of her local landscape (see Figure 2). This resulted in a complete redesign of the content and engaging participants in the collective creation of a MOOC for teaching the local minority language.

36Organisation problems of a different nature were an issue for partner C. Since their country is geographically extensive and technologically well-developed, the online component proved to be more easily accessible to training participants than in-situ sessions. The instructors' awareness of this challenge resulted in changing the ratio between face-to-face and online components in favour of the latter. Following this, the instructors used online communication channels such as dedicated Facebook communities to advertise their courses and recruit participants. The choice of recruitment medium enabled participants' digital competence to be assessed–which was the instructors' intention. Both strategies proved very productive and attracted a motivated and goal-oriented group of teacher participants.

37Frequently, reported challenges were also of a technical nature, either in the sense of participants' reported low technical competence (partners A, E and F), or technical difficulties experienced during the in-situ sessions (partners A and E). These challenges were not detrimental to course delivery and seemed to emerge as a natural result of the instruction being technology-supported.

Table 2–Overview of locally appropriated teacher-training courses–as reported by local instructors.

Local context

The main challenges reported

Dominant adaptation strategies

Dominant F2F techniques

Culture A

Addressing mixed technical abilities of participants.

Technical problems (online access)

Linguistic adaptation of content

Translation;

Repurposing tasks from online to F2F;

Hands-on computer work;

Pair and group work

Group discussions

Presentations by experts

Culture B

Teacher attitudes– attracting participants to a professional development course when plentiful, high quality educational content is available.

Content customisation

Restructuring

(100%).

Switch to collaborative learning

Pair and group work;

Group discussions

Culture C

Recruitment for F2F meetings. The online mode was predominantly used

Task redesign–using original tasks as inspiration.

Slide presentations

Group discussions

Presentations by experts

Culture D

Recruitment (work overload),

Content customisation

Translation

Technical appropriation–choosing user-friendly technologies

Hands-on computer work activity;

Lectures

Culture E

Differentiating instruction to address participants' varying technical competence.

Content redesign–adding tasks to accommodate teachers4 preferences for quizzes and low-tech activities.

Hands-on computer work

Group discussions

Slide presentations

Print hand-outs

Culture F

Addressing non-English speaking audience and the need for linguistic content customisation;

Technical issues (registration procedures

Rebalancing/replacing content in favour of digital training;

Prototype tasks used as inspiration for local ones.

Hands-on computer work.

Video watching and pair/group work;

Group discussions

5. Conclusions

38The exploratory study presented here shows that instructional design and its appropriation to local contexts is not free from cultural meanings and, thus, cannot be approached as an automatic procedure. Despite the common tendency to perceive contemporary education as equalised by the common access to the same materials and technologies, cultural uniformity can be a disadvantage for those teachers whose educational cultures may require substantial pedagogical appropriation of instruction. This is particularly true in the area of teacher professional development, in which mainstream good practices tend to be seen as universal and usually delivered top-down. In fact, any successful transfer of innovation to culturally different contexts should be done so with better understanding of the educational cultures of the local recipients. These educational cultures should be accounted for in task appropriation and instruction delivery so that recipients feel assisted in their gradual adaptation of new practices.

39During the appropriation stage investigated in this study, all the local instructors worked in fact as course re-designers, demonstrating high awareness of the unique qualities of their local educational cultures and applying various appropriation strategies to accommodate them. In many contexts, the purpose behind the selected strategies was to make amends for assumed limitations of the local educational contexts, such as limited knowledge of English, low technical competence or low popularity of collaborative tasks. At the same time though, the instructors' awareness of educational preferences of training recipients helped them increase motivation, ensure participation and provide learners with materials relevant to their local linguistic contexts.

40Obviously, the differences between local educational cultures may represent a wide spectrum and the results highlighted here do not capture the entire diversity of educational characteristics typical of a particular culture. However, the findings can serve as a reminder of how culture-specific national and regional educational cultures can be and how they can create unique instructional conditions. As we argue, cultural awareness should prompt greater instructional flexibility and lead to the creation of culturally adaptive materials. Large-scale open content, designed for culturally diverse appropriation, should provide learning tasks, technologies and instructional support that allow for choice, flexibility and multiple perspectives; while still offering a scaffolded and clearly structured generic learning environment. More specifically, this can be achieved if the instructional content to be appropriated provides 1) a choice of tasks representing various pedagogical approaches; 2) a selection of materials which lend themselves to various forms of linguistic appropriation (eg translation, subtitling and cultural replacement); 3) a choice of technological tools for task completion; 4) clear information to future adaptors as to which elements of the instruction can be manipulated with no harm done to the targeted learning objectives. Last but not least, successful appropriation requires instructors' sensitivity to and awareness of the target educational culture to create conditions in which new instructional methods will not be perceived by the trainees as totally alien and, thus, will be readily absorbed. This type of culturally sensitive appropriation may help teachers to embrace new practices and integrate them into their daily routines in the best possible manner.

Haut de page

Références

Les liens externes étaient valides à la date de publication.

Atenas, J. & Havemann, L. (2014). "Questions of quality in repositories of open educational resources: a literature review". Research in Learning Technology, vol. 22. pp. 1-13. http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/20889

Bateman, P., Lane, A. & Moon, R. (2012). "An emerging typology for analysing OER initiatives". In OCW Consortium and SCORE Team. Proceedings of Cambridge 2012: Innovation and ImpactOpenly Collaborating to Enhance Education. Milton Keynes: The Open University. pp. 19-28. http://oro.open.ac.uk/33640/5/Conference_Proceedings_ Cambridge_2012.pdf

Beaven, T., Comas Quinn, A., Hauck, M., de los Arcos, B. & Lewis, T. (2013). "The open translation MOOC: Creating online communities to transcend linguistic barriers". Journal of Interactive Media in Education. vol. 3. http://jime.open.ac.uk/jime/article/view/2013-18. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/2013-18

Buckler, A., Perryman, L. A., Seal, T. & Musafir, S. (2014). "The role of OER localisation in building a knowledge partnership for development: Insights from the TESSA and TESS-India teacher education projects". Open Praxis, vol. 6, n° 3. pp. 221-233.

Collis, B. (1999). "Designing for differences: Cultural issues in the design of Wbased course-support sites". British Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 30, n° 3. pp. 201-217.

Conole, G. C. & Ehlers, U. D. (2010). "Open Educational Practices: Unleashing the power of OER". Paper presented to UNESCO Workshop on OER in Namibia 2010. Windhoek. Available online: http://efquel.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/OEP_Unleashing-the-power-of-OER.pdf

Downes, S. (2007). "Models for sustainable Open Educational Resources". Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects, vol. 3. pp. 29-44.

Edmundson, A. (2007). "The cultural adaptation process (CAP) model: Designing e-learning for another culture". In Edmundson, A. (dir.). Globalized e-learning cultural challenges. Hershey, PA: Idea Group. pp. 267-290.

Gabillon, Z. (2013). "A Synopsis of L2 Teacher Belief Research". Belgrade International Conference on Education 2013. Available online: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/file/index/docid/940593/filename/1._Z.Gabillon_A_Synopsis_of_L2_Teacher_Belief_Research_BICE_Conference.pdf

Glennie, J., Harley, K., Butcher, N. & van Wyk, T. (dir.) (2012). Open Educational Resources and change in higher education: Reactions from practice. Vancouver: Commonwealth of Learning. Available online: https://oerknowledgecloud.org/sites/oerknowledgecloud.org/files/pub_PS_OER_web.pdf

Hall, E. T. (1976). Beyond culture. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.

Hall, E. T. & Hall, M. R. (1990). Understanding cultural differences: Germans, French and Americans. Yarmouth: Intercultural Press.

Henderson, L. (1996). "Instructional design of interactive multimedia: A cultural critique". Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 44, n° 4. pp. 85-104.

Hilton, J., Wiley, D., Stein, J. & Johnson, A. (2010). "The Four R's of Openness and ALMS Analysis: Frameworks for Open Educational Resources". Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning, vol. 25, n° 1. pp. 37-41. Available online: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1821&context=facpub

Hofstede, G. (1986). "Cultural differences in teaching and learning". International Journal of Intercultural Relations, vol. 10, n° 3. pp. 301-320.

King, T. (2013). "The 'Onstream' Project: Collaboration between higher education teachers of Russian and teachers of Russian in mainstream and supplementary schools". In Beaven, T., Comas-Quinn, A. & Sawhill, B. (dir.). Case studies of openness in the language classrooom. Dublin: Research-publishing.net. pp. 110-120. https://research-publishing.net/display_article.php?doi=10.14705/rpnet.2013.000114

Liu, X., Liu, S.-h. & Magjuka, R. J. (2010). "Cultural differences in online learning: International student perceptions". Educational Technology & Society, vol. 13, n° 3. pp. 177-188. Available online: http://www.ifets.info/journals/13_3/16.pdf

MacKinnon, T., Pasfield-Neofitou, S., Manns, H. & Grant, S. (2016). "A Meta-Analysis of Open Educational Communities of Practice and Sustainability in Higher Educational Policy". Apprentissage des langues et systèmes d'information et de communication (Alsic), vol. 19, n° 1. http://alsic.revues.org/2908

McGreal, R. (2013). "Introduction: The need for Open Educational Resources". In McGreal, R., Kinuthia, W. & Marshall, S. (dir.). pp. xv-xxiii.

McGreal, R., Kinuthia, W. & Marshall, S. (dir.) (2013). Open Educational Resources: Innovation, Research and Practice. Vancouver: Commonwealth of Learning, Athabasca University. Available online: https://oerknowledgecloud.org/sites/oerknowledgecloud.org/files/pub_PS_OER-IRP_web.pdf

Müller-Hartmann, A. & Kurek, M. (2016). "Virtual group formation and the process of task design in online intercultural exchanges". In Lewis, T. & O'Dowd, R. (dir.). Online intercultural exchange: policy, pedagogy, practice. New York & London: Routledge. pp. 131-149.

Ng'ambi, D. & Luo, A. (2013). "Towards a sustainable inter-institutional collaborative framework for Open Educational Resources (OER)". In McGreal, R., Kinuthia, W. & Marshall, S. (dir.). Available online: http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/97764/2013-Ngambi-Luo-SustainbleCollabOER-pub_PS_OER-IRP_web-CC%20BY%20SA.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

O'Cathain, A. & Thomas K. J. (2004). "'Any other comments?' Open questions on questionnaires–a bane or a bonus to research?". BMC Medical Research Methodology, vol. 4, n° 25. Available online: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186%2F1471-2288-4-25

Parrish, P. & Linder-VanBerschot, J. (2010). "Cultural dimensions of learning: Addressing the challenges of multicultural instruction". The International Review of Research in Open & Distributed Learning, vol. 11, n° 2. pp. 1-19. http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/809/1497

Perryman, L. A., Hemmings-Buckler A. & Seal, T. (2014). "Learning from TESS-India's approach to OER localisation across multiple Indian states". Journal of Interactive Media in Education, vol. 2, n° 7. pp. 1-11.

Peter, S. & Deimann, M. (2013). "On the role of openness in education. A historical reconstruction". Open Praxis, vol. 5, n° 1. pp. 7-14.

Reeves, T. & Reeves, P. (1997). "Effective dimensions of interactive learning on the World Wide Web". In Khan, B. (dir.). Web-based Instruction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications. pp. 59-66.

Rivens Mompean, A. & Guichon, N. (2013). "From the development of online resources to their local appropriation: A case study". Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society, vol. 9, n° 1. pp. 1-10.

Rolfe, V. (2012). "Open educational resources: Staff attitudes and awareness". Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20. pp. 1-13.

Rubenstein, I. (2006). "Educational expectations: How they differ around the world: Implications for teaching ESL college students". Community College Journal of Research and Practice, vol. 30. pp. 433-441.

Thomas, M., Mitchell, M. & Joseph, R. (2002). "The third dimension of ADDIE: A cultural embrace". TechTrends, vol. 46, n° 2. pp. 40-45.

Tikly, L. & Barrett, A. (2011). "Social justice, capabilities and the quality of education in low income countries". International Journal of Educational Development, vol. 31, n° 1. pp. 3-14.

Turula, A. (2015). "Telecollaboration in the clash of high-/low-context cultures: social justice at stake". In Tcherepashenets, N. & Lojacono, F. (dir.). Globalizing online telecollaborations, internationalization and social justice. Bern: Peter Lang. pp. 53-84.

Visser, J. (2007). "Learning in a global society". In Moore, M. G. (dir.). Handbook of distance education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 635-648.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: learning, meaning and identity. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Whyte, S. (2016). "From 'solitary' thinkers to 'social actors': OER in multilingual CALL teacher education". Apprentissage des langues et systèmes d'information et de communication (Alsic), vol. 19, n° 1. http://alsic.revues.org/2906

Wolfenden, F., Buckler, A. & Keraro, F. (2012). "OER adaptation and reuse across cultural contexts in Sub Saharan Africa: Lessons from TESSA (Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa)". Journal of Interactive Media in Education, vol. 1. http://jime.ubiquitypress.com/articles/10.5334/2012-03/

Haut de page

Annexe

Questionnaire distributed to local course instructors

The name(s) of the leading course instructor(s) at my institution: ……………………

1. How would you describe the participants of your training? (eg age? sex? educational level?) What were recruitment challenges, if any?

2. Please describe the main characteristics of the educational system in your country using the criteria below. Use the scale to highlight in yellow the most appropriate answer. Mind that for each of the categories I specified the extremes only and provided figures for other, the in-between qualities. Feel free to choose any of them.

Please think of the general picture rather than exceptions

A. The role of the teacher in a typical classroom (scale 1-5)

1- Classrooms in my country are usually very teacher-centered. The teacher makes all the decisions.

2

3

4

5- In my country the learner is in the centre of education. Individual differences are well taken care of.

B. The role of collaboration (scale 1-5)

1- Teachers in my country avoid collaborative tasks.

2

3

4

5- In my country collaborative tasks are very popular.

C. Technology use at schools (scale 1-5)

1- In my country digital technologies are rarely and unwillingly used in classes

2

3

4

5- In my country new technologies are common and popular with teachers.

D. Attitude to change and novelty

1- In my country any new techniques or technologies take a long time to catch on.

2

3

4

5- In my country new solutions are readily embraced and tested out by teachers

E. Use of English

1- English is truly a foreign language here. Very few teachers now it well

2

3

4

5- English is very popular with teachers in my country. Almost everybody knows it.

F. Attitude to sharing

1- In my country teachers are not very willing to share their work

2

3

4

5- In my country teachers are very enthusiastic about sharing

Additional comments: ……………………………………………………………………………………..

3. How would you describe the main challenges (if any) that you experienced when preparing your local training sessions? Please specify them in terms of:

Organization (eg recruitment, infrastructure, etc.)

Language adaptation (translation? Finding equivalent materials?)

Content

Technology

Teacher attitudes (eg to technology? to openness? To online learning?)

4. In what way is your local LangOER course and its training materials different from the pilot? Is it an exact copy? Did you reduce or perhaps change tasks? To what extent? Why?

5. What criteria did you follow when choosing or adapting tasks and content for your local context?

6. When organizing the training in your country you could choose from the following production tasks. Which of them did you skip and why? Which of them worked best in your context? Which of them didn't?

Task

I didn't use it in the course

I used it but it didn't work

I'm not sure it was a good task

It worked quite well

It worked very well

Creating a meme

Creating subtitles

Creating a TED-lesson

Quizziz–multi-user games

Learning Apps

Creating infographics

Comments: ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

7. What were the most significant decisions that you had to make when adapting the course to your local context?

8. Which forms of adaptation did you use? Use % please to estimate their scope and weight (eg 80% translation, etc.)

Verbatim translation ………….%

replacing the content ………….%

replacing the tools …………….%

changing the instructions ……..%

I used pilot tasks as inspiration for my own tasks ……%

Changing the structure of the course ……………..%

Other? ……………………………………………..

9. How would you describe the role of the online component in your context? Put crosses X in the relevant boxes, please.

I totally disagree

I'm not sure

I absolutely agree

A good space for storing our course materials

A good space for interaction and communication

Most of the actual teaching was done online

Not very useful in my context–I would be able to do the training without it

An added value to the course–the participants could experience online learning

Is there anything you would change now in how you used the online component?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

10. Which forms of instruction/materials did you use during face-to-face meetings?

Not used at all

Rarely used

used a lot

A dominant form of instruction

Slide presentation

Hands-on computer work

Print handouts

video watching

lecture

Pair and group work

Group discussions

Presentations by experts

Presentation by the participants

Other ………………………………………………………………………………………………

11. What has been the most rewarding aspect of your training?

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1–The phases of the process of instructional design: Preparing teachers for openness.
URL http://alsic.revues.org/docannexe/image/2904/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 22k
Titre Figure 2–Instructors' perceptions of their local educational cultures (A, B, C, D, E, F).
URL http://alsic.revues.org/docannexe/image/2904/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 53k
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence

Malgorzata Kurek, « Addressing cultural diversity in preparing teachers for openness: culturally sensitive appropriation of open content », Alsic [En ligne], Vol. 19, n° 1 | 2016, mis en ligne le 07 août 2016, Consulté le 22 octobre 2017. URL : http://alsic.revues.org/2904

Haut de page

Auteur

Malgorzata Kurek

Malgorzata (Gosia) Kurek is a researcher and lecturer at Jan Dlugosz University in Czestochowa (Poland) where she teaches English as a Foreign Language Methodology (TEFL). Her principal research interests include task design in CALL, telecollaboration, CALL teacher training and Open Education. She has presented widely at international scholarly conferences. She is an author of numerous ICT-enhanced courses for teachers and teacher trainees, and several publications in the field of Computer-Assisted Language Learning.
Affiliation: Jan Dlugosz University, Czestochowa, Poland.
Email: gkurka@gmail.com
Website: http://www.ifo.ajd.czest.pl/?page_id=1372
Address: Jan Dlugosz University, Institute of Foreign Languages, Armii Krajowej 13/15, 42-200 Czestochowa, Poland.

Articles du même auteur

Haut de page

Droits d'auteur

CC-by-nc-nd

Haut de page