Using Web-Based Distance Learning to Reduce Cultural Distance
In recent years, Web-based distance learning (WBDL) systems have become a popular learning environment for many western learners. While it has been established as an effective learning alternative, WBDL is not flourishing in Hong Kong as expected. This paper proposes that this is because Hong Kong students are not trained to learn independently and actively, as required in distance learning. Trapped in a Chinese Confucian-heritage culture, a generation of Hong Kong learners’ learning behavior can be summarized as shy, passive, reactive, inarticulate, non-collaborative, and timid—in short, the SPRINT learning behavior. Hong Kong learners with a SPRINT learning behavior contrast drastically with western learners, who are more proactive, articulate, collaborative, and eager to challenge traditions. The cultural distance in learning that is between western learners and traditional Chinese learners is wide and visible in Hong Kong. The objective of this research was to examine whether a WBDL environment that was integrated with advanced information and communication technology (ICT) can reduce this cultural distance and induce a motivation to learn through interaction. Several key ICT components are suggested that can help to remedy the cultural learning deficiencies of Hong Kong learners when using WBDL environments.