CULTURAL DIMENSIONS OF USING A LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM BY NON-NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKING INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IN JAPAN
KeywordsScience and knowledge
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Numerous learning management systems exist that support the process of e-learning all over the world. Japan is no exception and the University of Tsukuba in Japan employs manaba, a cloud-based collaborative learning system developed by the Internet service provider Asahi NET, Inc., which allows switching between English and Japanese interfaces. The University of Tsukuba is also the home of several undergraduate programs taught entirely in English, as part of the Global 30 Project. While all students in this program are international students, the vast majority of them are non-native English speakers. Our paper focuses on the impact of using a Japanese/English learning management system on the studying habits of non-native English speaking international students in Japan. We conducted an empirical study involving 30 international students and we collected data regarding the students' experience with the manaba learning management system. The subjects in our study, Global 30 social studies undergraduate students, come from more than 20 different countries, on 4 different continents, with only a small number originating from English-speaking countries. Based on a number of questionnaires, the aim of our study is to reveal the subjects' views with regard to manaba on aspects like: overall usefulness, difficulty of using one language interface or the other, level of interaction with the course instructor, usefulness of features like reminders, notifications etc. Furthermore, we intend to observe how different cultural backgrounds influence the way that learning management systems are approached by different students. Last but not least, we intend to analyze the extent to which the e-learning content is accessed using a mobile device as opposed to a personal computer. We believe that our paper can offer an interesting view on the cultural dimensions of using a learning management system in a Japanese heterogeneous academic group.