Cultural Variations in E-Learning – A Case Study on Medical Training

Christina M. Steiner, Gudrun Wesiak, Adam Moore, Declan Dagger, Owen Conlan, Dietrich Albert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


E-learning makes educational resources available to learners spread all over the world, resulting in a greater diversity of learners. Adaptation and personalisation aim at providing appropriate learning opportunities to users with diverse needs and preferences. Apart from knowledge, goals, motivation, etc. learners’ cultural background is becoming increasingly relevant for user modelling and adaptation. For meaningful culturally-aware design and adaptation of learning systems a sound understanding of the relevance of culture in e-learning is needed. This paper presents a case study investigating the cultural dimension in a concrete e-learning application for medical training. We examined cultural variations regarding self-regulated learning and metacognition, the use of smiley symbols for expressing emotions, social networks use, and user attitudes towards utilising social digital traces for personalising learning experiences. The analysed data stem from 95 medical students, trained in an experiential simulator with affective metacognitive scaffolding. Results revealed differences in the perception of how helpful scaffolding prompts were, in the ways to express emotions, and in the acceptance of social data mining. However, participants did not differ with respect to learning performance or effort. Overall, our study provides indications on potentially relevant aspects for building cultural intelligence into e-learning systems towards a culturally-aware learning support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-98
Number of pages18
JournalInternational journal on E-learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


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