Overcoming Face-to-Face Dependence in Distance Education: Gender and Cultural Considerations


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A videoconference presentation by Steve McCarty by ADSL teleconference to Kansai Airport from Osaka Prefectural University (19 February 2002)

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Overcoming Face-to-Face Dependence in Distance Education: Gender and Cultural Considerations

  1. 1. Overcoming Face-to-Face Dependence in Distance Education: Gender and Cultural Considerations A presentation by Steve McCarty at Osaka Prefectural University on February 19, 2002
  2. 2. Summary <ul><li>Levels of Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Roots of Face-to-Face (f2f) Dependence </li></ul><ul><li>Female differences based on biology </li></ul><ul><li>East-West differences go back millenia </li></ul><ul><li>What other researchers have concluded </li></ul><ul><li>Gender differences in thinking & communication </li></ul>
  3. 3. Summary Continued <ul><li>Females show more f2f dependence </li></ul><ul><li>Gender in Distance Education </li></ul><ul><li>Gender Differences in Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) </li></ul><ul><li>Gender Differences in Asynchronous Learning </li></ul><ul><li>East Asian Culture & Distance Education </li></ul><ul><li>Japanese Culture & Distance Education </li></ul><ul><li>For more information </li></ul>
  4. 4. Levels of Analysis <ul><li>Universally Human (discussed next) </li></ul><ul><li>Gender-Specific (focus on this level) </li></ul><ul><li>Culture-Specific (focus on this level) </li></ul><ul><li>Contemporary Factors (not the focus) </li></ul><ul><li>Individual Factors (not the focus) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Roots of Face-to-Face (f2f) Dependence <ul><li>Universally Human Factors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To this presenter, f2f dependence results from a prehistoric genetic disposition that still influences all people unconsciously. Because in the evolution of human life until recently, communication was within the range of the five senses. A relatively short time ago in evolution, history began with writing or abstracting language representation, which made remote communication (and public education) possible. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Continued <ul><ul><li>Now Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) challenge the limits of time, space, and education to preserve an elite class, making possible UNESCO’s motto of “education for all.” While ICT guided by instructional design principles offers the benefits of online education, it is still a great leap for humans to join a group without ever meeting f2f. To meet once f2f or to see online images of collaborators is much preferred. It will take time for humans to psychologically adjust to remote communication and distance education. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Female differences based on biology <ul><li>Gender-Specific Factors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The reproductive function placed females in the role of maintaining a home base and a stable family for more successful child-raising. Female needs eventually translated into societies, which limited male wandering tendencies through the institution of marriage. Much recent research confirms that biological male-female differences are the root cause of so much conflict in marriages today. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Continued <ul><li>In online education there is a need to make courses female-friendly, to make rules such as Netiquette to avoid male dominance and silencing of women by encouraging the female communication style. That is, instead of cold logic and confrontation, online groups actually need the community building by female moderation and maintaining smooth personal relationships. </li></ul>
  9. 9. East-West differences go back millenia <ul><li>Culture-Specific Factors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The West </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Since ancient Greek philosophy and democracy, Westerners have developed logic and individualism. America further offered wide frontiers for self-reliance and new challenges that appealed to male instincts. Today the English-speaking countries are leading the world with a mainly male way of thinking, including technologies such as online education. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Continued <ul><ul><li>East Asia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Traditionally much more crowded and collectivistic East Asian societies were also much earlier to adopt agriculture while Western men were still hunters. Especially because of the demands of rice agriculture, East and Southeast Asians became more stable societies and less aggressive or violent historically than other parts of Asia and the West. As a result, their general communication style seems more female from the Western viewpoint. The way Japanese men like to sit in a circle, not showing their hierarchy, is a female characteristic worldwide. But a male-female balance is needed everywhere. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. What other researchers have concluded <ul><li>Now here are some sources supporting the views of this presenter, first on universally human characteristics, then on male-female differences: </li></ul><ul><li>“ In terms of biological design for the basic neural circuitry of emotion, what we are born with is what worked best for the last 50,000 human generations … certainly not the last five. The slow, deliberate forces of evolution that have shaped our emotions have done their work over the course of a million years” </li></ul><ul><li>Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence [EQ], pp. 5-6 </li></ul>
  12. 12. Continued <ul><li>“ Men and women have evolved differently because they had to. Men hunted, women gathered. Men protected, women nurtured. As a result, their bodies and brains evolved in completely different ways … Now, we know the sexes process information differently. They think differently.” [emphasis added by the presenter] </li></ul><ul><li>Allan & Barbara Pease, Why Men Don’t Listen & Women Can’t Read Maps , p. 5 </li></ul>
  13. 13. Continued <ul><li>The above books use analogies from computers , sometimes giving them gender, for example associating navigation with males and web with females. Notice how the following quotations could apply to making online courses more successful, for example by harnessing female interpersonal skills to build a sense of community. But female face-to-face dependence is particularly indicated and must be overcome. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Gender differences in thinking & communication <ul><li> “ Man and women’s brains have evolved with different strengths, talents and abilities. Men, being responsible for hunting game, needed areas in the brain for long- distance navigation , to develop tactics for organizing the kill and to hone skills for hitting a target. They didn’t need to be good conversationalists or sensitive to anyone’s emotional needs, so they never developed strong brain areas for interpersonal skills. Women, by contrast, needed an aptitude for good short-range navigation, wider peripheral vision to monitor their surroundings, the ability to perform several activities simultaneously, and effective communication skills. As a consequence of these needs, men and women’s brains developed specific areas to handle each skill” (Pease, p. 44). </li></ul>
  15. 15. Continued <ul><li>“ For example, most men have a specific brain location for sensing direction so they find that easy to do. They enjoy planning directions and are drawn to pursuits and pastimes that allow them to use abilities such as navigation and orientation. Women have specific areas for speech. They’re good at it, can do it with ease, and are attracted to fields that allow them to make use of this strength, such as therapy, counseling and teaching” (p. 49). “Men can mentally index their problems and put them on hold … The only way a woman gets rid of problems from her mind is by talking about them to acknowledge them. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Continued <ul><li>Therefore, when a woman talks at the end of the day, her objective is to discharge the problems, not to find conclusions or solutions” (p. 80). “Since women originally spent their days with the other women and children in the group, they developed the ability to communicate successfully in order to maintain relationships. For a woman, speech continues to have such a clear purpose: to build relationships and make friends. For men, to talk is to relate the facts. Men see the telephone as a communication tool for relaying facts and information to other people, but a woman sees it as a means of bonding” (p.81). </li></ul>
  17. 17. Females show more f2f dependence <ul><li>“ When girls play together, they do so in small, intimate groups, with an emphasis on minimizing hostility and maximizing cooperation, while boys’ games are in larger groups, with an emphasis on competition … boys take pride in a lone, tough-minded independence and autonomy, while girls see themselves as part of a web of connectedness ” (Goleman, p. 150). “Indeed, the most important element for women – but not for men – in satisfaction with their relationship in a [University of Texas] study of 264 couples was the sense that the couple has ‘good communication’” (p. 151). </li></ul><ul><li> “ While men have side-by-side friendships based on things and achievement, women have face-to-face relationships based on emotional sharing” (Pease, p. 144). On the same page the authors also explain why men like to make jokes about sex, which are offensive to women. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Continued <ul><li>The above references give enough indication of basic male-female differences. But while women tend to have better communication skills, men may more readily navigate distance education. It may be more difficult to market online courses to women or make them feel comfortable online, but if their f2f dependence is overcome, they can add a social dimension to sustain online relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>The next references directly about online education can now be more deeply understood. A little research has been done on gender in distance education, but very little on cross-cultural issues, the combination of gender and culture, or f2f dependence, so the conclusions will represent the presenter’s views. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Gender in Distance Education <ul><li>“ a new report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation has found that distance--or online--learning is on the rise and women make up the majority of students. Sixty percent of these nontraditional online learners are over 25 years of age and female. </li></ul><ul><li>Working mothers interested in furthering their education are doing so online and adding a difficult &quot;third shift&quot; to their responsibilities as mothers and employees” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Third Shift: Women Learning Online (2001)” http://www. aauw .org/2000/3rdshift.html </li></ul>
  20. 20. Continued <ul><li>The above study shows that online learning can appeal to women, but the reason for the larger numbers may be that more women are still not working full-time outside the home. Other studies on the next slides show that the online world is male-dominated and needs to be made hospitable for women to feel safe to contribute. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Gender Differences in Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) <ul><li>“ Gender differences in online communication tend to disfavor women. In mixed-sex public discussion groups, females post fewer messages.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Some evidence suggests that women participate more actively and enjoy greater influence in environments where the norms of interaction are controlled by an individual or individuals entrusted with maintaining order and focus in the group … it makes sense if the leader's role is seen as one of ensuring a civil environment, free from threats of disruption and harassment.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Males and females tend to participate more equally in chat environments, both in terms of number of messages and average message length.” </li></ul>
  22. 22. Continued <ul><li>“ Similar to off-line cultures, therefore, in which men control public discourse and women communicate more often in private settings (Coates 1993), public CMC is predominantly a male preserve.” </li></ul><ul><li>Susan Herring, “Gender Differences in CMC </li></ul><ul><li>[Computer-Mediated Communication] http://www. cpsr .org/publications/newsletters/issues/2000/Winter2000/herring.html </li></ul><ul><li>The above study shows that women feel more at home in synchronous communication. That may be because chat environments more closely simulate the f2f communication where women have always excelled. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Gender Differences in Asynchronous Learning <ul><li>“ results suggest that gender differences in communication patterns for male and female students in CMC are the same as FTF communication. Females communicate in an elegant way, while males are generally rough, using shorter words and slang. Males communicate with an underlying purpose of seeking power or status while females more often communicate striving to help others. Males dominate the conversation, effectively silencing females. Females use tag words to justify a statement, while males use slang, insults, derogatory words, and often post jokes of a sexual nature. And lastly, females communicate in a more personal manner, often including mention of self, personal experience, and family in their messages. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Continued <ul><li>In contrast, male messages did not contain such references, instead they contained impersonal statements in an abstract manner.” </li></ul><ul><li>Women also tend to be less confident in learning through computers. And yet: </li></ul><ul><li>“ distance education allows a pedagogy preferred by women that is sharing and interactive, and provides an environment for differing learning style preferences because distance education has collaborative potential.” </li></ul>
  25. 25. Continued <ul><li>“ the professor in the CMC distance education environment must act as a facilitator who constantly looks for ways for the students to build a sense of community. Small-group instruction is a ‘common teaching strategy’ for distance education organizations.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ online female students have less time than their traditional education female counterparts, and have even less time than online males.” </li></ul>
  26. 26. Continued <ul><li>“ Data from the analysis on learning styles showed that online females prefer to learn in a connected manner. These two findings together offer a solution to reduce this situational barrier for females: Institutions could make it a policy to include more collaborative and cooperative learning in their courses.” </li></ul><ul><li>Kimberly Blum, “Gender Differences in Asynchronous Learning in Higher Education” http://www. aln .org/ alnweb /journal/Vol3_issue1/ blum . htm </li></ul>
  27. 27. East Asian Culture & Distance Education <ul><li>Among the cultures with advanced technologies, the greatest cultural gulf seems to exist between East and West, despite their friendship, most extreme between the U.S. and East Asia. The contrast in common sense, such as individualism vs. collectivism or group orientation, is reflected in distance education as well. Cross-cultural issues are included in the following WebCT presentation at Ritsumeikan University : </li></ul><ul><li>“ Western assumptions about the active learner and student-centered education cannot be taken for granted in a non-Western culture.” Westerners “need instructional design principles, to apply originally Western Web-based tools and learning theories to East Asian students” </li></ul><ul><li>Steve McCarty, “WebCT for the Language Teacher” </li></ul><ul><li>Presentation at Ritsumeikan University on November 16, 2001 </li></ul>
  28. 28. Continued <ul><li> The traditional cultural similarities among East Asian countries will be seen in the following: </li></ul><ul><li>“ South Korea has made remarkable progress, for example providing even non-degree programs for teacher training, and aiming for Net-based, government-supported teacher education programs with their own software platform. But they have found teachers not facilitating learning, with students passive, using the PC just for information processing, not as a communication tool. In Taiwan, 70% of adult students were found to be teacher-dependent.” </li></ul>
  29. 29. Continued <ul><li>Steve McCarty, Review of Open and Distance Education in the Asia Pacific Region </li></ul><ul><li>UK, Open Learning Systems News . December 2001 </li></ul><ul><li>If adults were found by the Taiwanese to be teacher-dependent, then it must be more true for younger students, and the same pattern would probably be found in Japan. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Japanese Culture & Distance Education <ul><li>An article by the presenter in the world’s most widely read educational technology journal seemed to be one of the first to introduce how Internet education is received very differently in a non-Western culture: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Japanese Culture Meets Online Education” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Educom Review , Volume 34, No. 3 (1999). http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/html/erm993a.html </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The article introduced Japan as a very f2f-oriented culture, which means the men as well as the women. The lack of essential f2f rituals would mean that not being able to meet in person would be a great barrier for Japanese people to join online courses. </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Continued <ul><li>The closeness of relationships between Japanese people also seems to be measured by the frequency they meet f2f, so they often visit in person when Western people would find a phone call or written message sufficient. </li></ul><ul><li>Indeed, online education has been very slow to become popular in Japan. For about six years the presenter has worked to introduce the field in Japanese, receiving little response. Research grants have also been relatively few. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Continued <ul><li>There have been some encouraging signs most recently, however, such as the Advanced Learning Infrastructure Consortium (ALIC) and the J-Net project of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) along with the World Bank’s Global Development Learning Network (GDLN), both to provide distance education from Japan to the Southeast Asian region. </li></ul>
  33. 33. For more information <ul><li>E-mail Steve McCarty , Professor, Kagawa Junior College President, World Association for Online Education ( WAOE ) </li></ul><ul><li>Continue to the online library: Bilingualism and Japanology Intersection annotated in English or in Japanese. </li></ul><ul><li>Essential Sites:   www.waoe.org/steve </li></ul><ul><li>Online library </li></ul><ul><li>(an Asian Studies WWW </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual Library 4-star site, 1997/2001): </li></ul><ul><li>www.waoe.org/steve/epublist.html </li></ul><ul><li>In Japanese: </li></ul><ul><li>www.waoe.org/steve/j.html </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail: </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>
  34. 34. End <ul><li>スティーブ・マッカーティ </li></ul><ul><li>香川短期大学教授、 世界オンライン教育学会 (米国認定の NPO )会長、 グローバル大学 ( UNESCO 認定の NGO ) アジア太平洋機構 等のネット上のボランティア活動を行っている。ボストン生まれ、ハワイ大学大学院文学修士(アジア/日本学の専門)取得。「 バイリンガリズムと日本学 」という著作目録とリンク集は、 ☆☆☆☆ (アジア学にとても役立つ)と Asian Studies WWW Virtual Library に評価されている。 </li></ul>