learning landscapes in southern africa

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Interpreting cross-cultural blended teaching and learning along Hofstede's cultural dimensions

Dolf Steyn & Johannes Cronje, University of Pretoria, Seugnet Blignaut, Tshwane University of Technology
 
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This article reflects on the cross-cultural communicative experiences of professors from South Africa and students from Sudan, during a two-year Internet-supported Masters' course in Computer-Assisted Education. Four of Hofstede's cultural dimensions were considered as categories of interpretation. The purpose of the research was to determine the extent to which Hofstede's quantitative, functionalist research can be used as a basis for an essentially qualitative, radical humanist enquiry. While Hofstede's work focuses on cultural differences, this article tries to uncover what commonalities were constructed in the process. It was found that dimensions such as power-distance and uncertainty avoidance tended to amplify one another, while together they resulted in a movement away from individualism towards collectivism. The dimensions of masculinity and femininity were not useful in explaining differences as the two meeting cultures were very close together, and both plotted in the middle of the dimension. It is suggested that more research be conducted to uncover the elements that are common to cultures, as emphasizing commonality seems more useful than trying to overcome differences.