Development of a culturally appropriate process for assessing distance learning readiness in Latin America
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The purpose of this study was to develop an instrument for assessing distance learning readiness of institutions in Latin America for international projects of food and agriculture with higher education institutions in the U.S. The data collection followed two approaches: a quantitative, which was processed statistically, including mean (percentage), mode and cross-tabulation, and a qualitative, through semi-structured interviews. The population of this research was animal biotechnology institutions in Latin American countries, Spanish speaking, partners with the major funding organizations in the U.S., with Web pages on the Internet. Population included 17 countries with N=150, a random sample of n=83 for the quantitative analysis and n=20 for the qualitative approach. The instrument was developed by the researcher. Items were based on readiness surveys used widely in the U.S., and founded in two culture theories: Bank’s (2001) cultural elements and Hosfstede’s (1984) cultural dimensions. Using Bank’s theory it was concluded that English proficiency was considered an essential tool for research. Interviews exposed that researchers were aware of nonverbal communication differences between Latinos and Americans. Cultural cognitiveness showed to be exposed when researchers were confronted with another culture. The perspective of distance education showed to be considered different from face to face education. There was an appropriate perception of the need, ownership, and use of computer technologies and Internet accessibility with fast connections. Researchers perceived computer technology equipment as a measurement of the quality of their institution. Using Hofstede’s (1984) dimensions it was concluded that Latin American countries were considered to have high power distance on four of the six items assessed; had strong uncertainty avoidance with four of the six items assessed, where a collectivist society, with five items out of six. Interviews determined that a masculine dimension was predominant in the study. Assessment of technology involved: Internet, technological resources, computer proficiency, distance education and instructional design experience. Results of this assessment showed that technology must be measured through a cultural perspective to achieve accurate responses because people express and understand through their mental constructs which are tainted with their cultural experiences and their perception of life, work, academics, and society.
Villalobos Peñalosa, Patricia (2007). Development of a culturally appropriate process for assessing distance learning readiness in Latin America. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from