Ethiopian case by wuyunyi


									                          Inaugural Professorial Lecture

                Lifelong eLearning across Cultures
                     Key insights and policy implications towards content credibility

                                    By Sylvia van de Bunt-Kokhuis PhD

                               Wednesday 30 November 2005

                                            Venue: The Mansion
                                            Trent Park Campus

                                            Middlesex University
                                  School of Lifelong Learning and Education
                                                  London UK

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Table of Contents

         PART I: eLearning and Cultural Perceptions
         A. Participation in open source
         B. Work perceptions
         C. Online trust
         D. Identity

         PART II: Online Content Reconsidered
         A. Search engines
         B. Language
         C. Pre-internet filter; the Chinese MBA case
         D. Content filters

         PART III: Future Perspectives
         A. Cultural diversity and search engines
         B. Language diversity among the web
         C. Credibility of online content: the portal case
         D. Summary

About the author

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Dia 1
Ladies and gentleman, dear students,

Today we discuss the impact of culture on our daily work with the internet. The question is not only if
people benefit from the learning opportunities the internet offers us. We also want to know how the
available information is perceived by people worldwide. Do people across cultures, like children, students,
researchers, parents or employees, have specific online working styles or has           the internet created a
universal non diversified workplace? Both technical and cross- cultural competencies are needed to make
elearning a successful experience. If you do not know the rules of the game, you might be excluded. We
may learn of good practices in amongst others the Far East where people use the internet with success and
are able to perform increasingly better.
Today‟s event here in Middlesex was prepared during last summer with Trevor Corner and Paul Lefrere. We
decided to start the symposium with economic and language filtering on the web, and subsequently
dedicate my inaugural to the cultural dimension. I found the cultural dimension the most fascinating and
most unexplored filter level.

Dia 2
Today I would like to share my explorative study with you. Some of the dilemma‟s that may occur online
due to the cultural perceptions that various people have will briefly be introduced in Part I (DIA 3). The
issue of online content will be reconsidered with respect to the filtering effect of, amongst others, search
engines and language (Part II, DIA 4). Finally the future perspective will be highlighted, with some key
insights and policy implications towards cross- cultural content credibility (Part III, DIA 5).

Dia 6

PART I: eLearning and Cultural Perceptions

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Let‟s take a look at the profile of the 21st Century Learner:
He sits at the computer with headphones piping music from an iPod to his ears. Ten different MSN chat
windows blink and chime on the computer screen. An online role-playing game is minimized on the
Windows taskbar. A music video blares from a TV in a corner of the room. A calculus book lies
nonchalantly open by the cell phone, which itself sits next to the PC. He is doing his homework. He is real.
He is a 21st Century Learner (Rodgers and Starrett, 2005)

If this is the e-learner of tomorrow, one may question whether the available technical tools are appropriate
for varying groups of users.      Is   current communication software adequately enabling cross-cultural
communication? Obvious communication barriers are caused by incompatible hardware such as different
power supplies, varying keyboards or non-matching plugs. However, these are relatively minor problems
compared to the hidden cultural barriers that might occur through standardised software, commercial
search engines and incompatible perceptions of people who use these systems. Cultural barriers touch on
the very essence of the way people construct their mindset. For example, the „bulletin board‟ in the
virtual workplace is based on the basic assumption that end users like it because they can publish their
ideas either anonymously or not. This e-tool for communication is, however, not popular among some Asian
communities where the fear of loss of face influences their online working style. In some cultures the
context, that is absent on the web, gives major information for successful communication. The perception
of context includes elements such as direct eye contact, gestures and side talk.

A. Participation in open source
Some cultural groups are more hindered than others by these technical features. Japanese and South
Korean journalists recently discussed their (hindered) participation in open source media. The issue was
why Japanese people fall behind in participating in open source media, compared to South Korean people.
Japanese people were described by the Koreans as mild tempered, shy, hardworking, sensitive, group-
oriented, choosing harmony over conflict. Japanese people tend to avoid arguing with others or express
strong personal opinions and are easily overwhelmed by the majority.            According to the Japanese
journalists, South Koreans have their own opinions and tend to speak out frankly, whereas Japanese people
often hesitate in expressing themselves. Even when they do speak out, they tend to choose ambiguous
words. On the internet, these characteristics have prevented Japanese people from participating fully in
the personal media revolution, like the Koreans do in the online journal:
OhmyNews (DIA 7 and 8). OhmyNews has caused a media revolution in South Korea. Thousands of Korean
citizens contribute to OhmyNews. Readers can comment directly and online on the posted articles. It is one
of the challenges of the information society in general but also for initiatives such as OhmyNews to find the
right balance between freedom of speech and on the other hand respect for locally rooted cultural and
legal issues.

B. Work perceptions (DIA 9)

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How do learners across cultures perceive their virtual environment? People may have different opinions
about how passive or active one should be in an online exchange. An online communication experiment
between American and East Asian students showed a social filtering-out effect. The East Asian students had
a different interpretation of their own online behavior compared to the American students. East Asians
found that Americans were more direct and self-disclosing due to their individualizing character. At the
same time American students thought that the Asians were polite, reserved, indirect and not talking about
themselves over e-mail (Ulijn and Campbell, 2001).
Will Asian learners and workers perform better online than their counterparts in the Western world due to
their intelligence, discipline and humility? To get to know more about how people perceive their virtual
workplace, we can learn about the marketing studies in industry on online perceptions of consumers (Chau,
Cole ,2002). Consumers may have different impressions of the same website or the same product
information. If the product information is described well, it applies to consumers worldwide. However,
commercial success depends to a large extent on cultural nuances. For instance, while the colour white
represents purity in the USA, the Japanese associate the colour white with death. The Chinese may be
receptive to a red background on a web page, symbolizing happiness. Americans may associate the colour
red with danger. In the global business one tries to anticipate these local perceptions. There must be
some features that allow the users `to feel at home`. This cultural affiliation can be marked by using the
native language, a national symbol, or colour. For example, CNN uses cultural icons such as national flags
to attract more viewers.    Furthermore, cognitive reactions may differ among cultures. Time pressured
Westerners may perceive heavy graphics with long download times as a nuisance, whereas Asian people
may prefer screens with heavily animated graphics, video and audio. According to Weir and Hutchings
(2005) timelessness and spacelessness of the cultures that dominate the Arab Middle East and China may
turn out to be more adaptive in the internet age than the analytical work perceptions in the more western
organisations. Arab users and Moslems may use technology features in different ways than Western users of
the same technology. For example it is conventional to use GPS information on mobile phones to orient
correctly towards Mecca at prayer time. Pre-internet cultural filters also may occur. Young Arab men
frequently undertake courses of higher education in the west. At the same time only a few western
students are enrolled at Arab Universities. So the Arab students learn through their own cultural filters and
then subsequently through those of Western scholarship. The internet will accelerate this type of `filtered‟
and enriched learning. “They understand us far better than we understand them”, according to the

C. Online trust (DIA 10)
Another factor that affects the cultural inclusiveness is the attitude towards trusting information or trusting
people online. To illustrate this issue, we looked at a negotiation case online (Wallace 2004) where business
people physically were located in the United States and Japan. The Japanese felt the project was
intriguing, but noticed afterwards “Of course, we would never do it that way.”               After the online
negotiations the Japanese response was “It is difficult” in fact meaning “no”. The online negotiation style
did not support the Japanese style of non verbal communication needed to establish a trusting relationship.

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D. Identity (DIA 11)

For the members of some cultures, identity is essential to knowing how to interact or what to say in a given
context. However, in the online environment cues essential for determining identity are absent. Context
information that people need to determine how to interact is missing. As a result, participants from such
cultures may feel uncomfortable in the online communication.          Because without these identity-based
context cues they cannot determine what is (un)acceptable behavior in a given exchange. Therefore, some
people might choose to remain silent or say as little as possible to avoid offending other participants . In
some other cultures, a speaker must have a stable identity in order for a given audience to listen to a
particular message. The fluidity of the internet contrasts with this stable identity. For example, in the
Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe people may in the real world interact within relatively large and
complex social networks. Historical networks usually originate from strong familial ties based on trust and
family honor. Here, the identity and seniority of the speaker can often be crucial to knowing how to
interact, to communicate and to decide to listen or ignore information.

PART II: Lifelong e-learning (DIA 12)

The cultural dimension of online interactions and content increasingly becomes a matter of concern for
educationalists, especially now lifelong learning is a must for most organisations. More and more employees
are e-learners too. Learners have to deal a large part of their time with online content through interfaces
like search engines and portals. So far, only a few studies are available on the cultural varieties in the use
and available content of search engines and portals. For example, in the western world e-learners
frequently use `external` search engines like Google and Yahoo. Whereas in some Asian countries, such as
Korea and China, portals more often are in the local language and have built-in `internal` search engines in
the local language.

A. Search engines (DIA 13 and DIA 14: Financial Times)
Do we all use and interpret search engines outcomes in the same manner, or are some end-users hindered
by their specific culture or language? In a survey among 2200 American internet users (Fallows, 2005) it
was found that searchers in various gender and age groups are confident, satisfied and trusting, but they
are also unaware and naïve concerning their search results. A majority of searchers (68%) is very trusting of
search engines and find it a fair and unbiased source of information. Only a little more than a third of
search engine users are aware of the analogous sets of content commonly presented by search engines.
About 1 in 6 searchers say they can consistently distinguish between paid and unpaid results.

B. The language issue (DIA 15)
Another important cultural shift that some elearners encounter is the language used for communication and
instruction. To give an example from the Central and Eastern European countries: during the Communist
regime Russian was the most important language in education, in politics and the economy. However, in
the online information society one of the important languages became English and local Eastern European

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languages are less represented. This causes many (senior) people in these countries to be culturally
excluded from the major (online) information sources. At the same time, those citizens who speak English
become more advantaged in business or education.           The writing and communication style in online
communication is another factor that differs across cultures. In many languages, words and grammar are
used to convey different levels of politeness.      Some colleagues may be uncomfortable with informal
language used in the online lounge area or with the ways in which questions are asked and answered. If the
text is in English, non-native English speakers may have difficulty understanding the concepts presented. In
the case of many African and Asian languages, software for machine-translating English language texts is
still unsatisfactory. This is caused by syntax and grammar, which largely differs from the English language.
Access to and reading of websites can be problematic for non-native English speakers. For example, Arab
and Hebrew languages generally read from right to left. These e-learners may have the same tendency
when reading material on a website. Thus web design and efficient search architecture is also a matter of
cultural sensitivity.   The following picture (DIA 16) illustrates the importance of localisation of search
engines. It refers to Cuba (Havana) where the local means of transport is called `Camello`. Google does not
recognise the local semantic meaning (DIA 17).

Ethiopian case(DIA 18)
To imagine some of the cultural barriers inherent to online language use, we will discuss the cyber
revolution in just one African country viz. Ethiopia. Preservation of cultural heritage and linguistic legacy
are crucial components of identity and self–understanding of individuals that link a community to its past.
Ethiopia is mostly a rural and multilingual society. Many Ethiopians have migrated to other parts of the
world. Advanced technologies, transportation and communication have enhanced this migration process.
Ethiopians use modern technologies for communication with their family and friends at home. Despite the
modern communication practice in Ethiopia as described by Levine, there is still a long way to go to bridge
the digital gap in Ethiopia. According to Kitaw Yayeh-Yirad (2004), due to very low Internet penetration and
high Internet tariffs , the vast majority of end users are migrated Ethiopians living in the Diaspora. There is
a risk of being left behind and further marginalised. Young Ethiopian people in the labour market in
particular may be excluded from emerging technologies. However, there are local technological
developments in Ethiopia worth mentioning here. These include Ethiopian attempts to safeguard their
local cultural identity, content, and indigenous languages. Ethiopia has had its own local written script
since 100 BC, called Ge'ez, and other related languages. These Ethiopian languages are written and read
from left to right, in contrast with the other Semitic languages. Ethiopians call their alphabet "fidel." The
Ethiopic alphabet consists of 26 consonant letters. These letters can be transformed into syllabic symbols
by attaching the appropriate vocalic markers to the letters.

Today, there are over 40 Ethiopic word processing software products available. Each product has its own
character set, encoding system, and keyboard layout. There is an obvious lack of standards in the
computerisation of the Ethiopic alphabet. However, since the last decade, Internet browsers have included
support for different fonts and typefaces. The end user is able to download and install a specific Ethiopic
font and view Ethiopic documents through Internet browsers. Nevertheless, some technical barriers and

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compatibility problems remain. There is a lack of coordination among the various efforts to enhance
Ethiopian participation in the Information Society. What are the major practical problems? Some font
embedding tools in Ethiopia are useful for tackling font-downloading requirements. These tools are
nonetheless not available for all browsers and operating systems, and not yet reliable for Ethiopic web
publishing. PDF is practical for downloading Ethiopic documents that require standard printing. PDF is not
yet an efficient and universal way of publishing Ethiopic websites. It is not easy to make an Ethiopic web
page enabled for any end user, browser and/or platform. Various Ethiopian professionals and companies are
using some ad hoc yet ingenious and incompatible solutions. These solutions are not adequately suited for
real processing and exchange of information. There is a lack of (inter)national standards for Ethiopic
character set encoding. Also, support for Ethiopic languages from major software platform providers is
lacking, probably related to an assumption of scarce business potential. To enable Ethiopian people to
participate in the Information Society it is important that these linguistic and cultural characteristics be
available. The development of local content with the use of the indigenous Ethiopian alphabet and the
preservation of the Ethiopian heritage, is encouraged by local initiatives like

C. Pre-internet filters; the Chinese MBA case (DIA 19)
Finally we will discuss another dimension of credibility of online content, namely what happens on the pre-
internet level.   Content is influenced by globalisation and commercial interest in the real world too. LIang
and Lin (2005) found global challenges to business school MBA content in China. During the last decade an
unprecedented transfer of Western management theories and business education pedagogies into Chinese
business school MBA‟s occurred. Many MBA programs in China were staffed by faculty personnel`borrowed‟
from partner schools in the West with content and pedagogy modelled after leading business schools in the
West. At least 28% of MBA business textbooks in China are translated from the West. The holistic approach
to organisational life that is so prevalent in Chinese MBA teaching cases in 1992 had virtually disappeared
by the end of the 1990s. According to the authors, Chinese cases published after the Western infusion now
exhibit much the same weakness and deficiencies as MBA cases developed in the West. The case materials
tend to be overly rationalistic, obsessed with strategy, leadership and an individual approach to decision
making. The historical and institutional contexts are missing. The Western case method is worrisome.
Chinese students do not pick up the relevant tools for the Chinese business world and develop mental
models of another (Western) world. The rationalistic and simplistic reality depicted in MBA teaching cases
may potentially have a negative impact on students‟ effectiveness as future managers. The hero-centric
approach to top management and leadership can be harmful to Chinese students. According to the authors,
Chinese students may use such a superman-type hero as an implicit benchmark to measure their superiors.
It is likely that the students will become naïve as to what they can expect in organisations. MBA graduates
will be disappointed by what they see in reality.

D. Content filters (DIA 20)
In a workplace with an overload of information, content filters are a prerequisite for efficient work.
Societal groups are, for different reasons, concerned about the integrity of content on the web. In China,

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for example, the introduction of the internet was accompanied by the development of a large scale content
filter operation to exclude Chinese citizens from unethical sites. Even today access to free online speech
and information flow is filtered in China and e.g. Chinese bloggers may self-censure their weblogs. Or in
Iran where the word `women‟ is filtered-out in search engines. End users such as students in medical
sciences or pregnant women are disadvantaged by this kind of retrieval obstacle. In other countries such as
the USA content filters were developed to protect children from obscene sites (DIA 21 Cybercontrol and
DIA 22 Cybersitter). In June 2003 the Supreme Court in the USA supported the Children‟s Online Protection
Act. According to this Act, libraries have to install content filters on their computers. If this is not done,
governmental support may be withdrawn. There is a lot of opposition to this Act. Fearing that information
is censored, it is argued that content filter software gives parents a false feeling of safety.

PART III: Future perspectives (DIA 23)

We have seen a growth of internet use by people of any age at school, at work or at home. Dilemma‟s and
key insights inherent to lifelong elearning across cultures have been discussed. At the end of this
presentation some recommendations amongst others raised by experts in the FILTER project, and policy
implications will be highlighted, accompanied by a few good practice cases. The first general question is
how to enhance the cultural diversity at the virtual workplace. We have seen that this whole idea may be
provocating, but like Albert Eindstein once stated:
“ If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it”. (DIA 24)
To bridge cultural differences Nagy (2001) recommends that websites be localised, translated and adapted
for culture and characteristics of a certain group. Websites that are to be translated must be easy to
translate. Minimizing links facilitates translation. It is important to shorten download times. Limited
graphics are important for countries where phone rates are high. As far as language is concerned, one
should avoid using letters in graphics including buttons. The letter may not exist in the local language such
as Arabic. When using sound one should be sensitive to culture. For example, avoid a beep to let the user
know when a mistake has been made. The beep is acceptable to the Western user. However, the Japanese
user may find the beep embarrassing, since the sound calls attention to a mistake. Before using symbols,
one should check the cultural significance of the symbols used. For example, the owl is a symbol of
knowledge in the United States, whereas in Central America it is a symbol of witchcraft and black magic.
Quite often, the perception of cultural context includes elements like direct eye contact, gestures and side
talk. New media tools like the web cam may help to compensate for the lack of context and help to
enhance a successful online conversation. As far as the cultural enrichment of online content is concerned,
some     initiatives    are     promising      e.g.     the     European        eContent    Plus   programme
( where multicultural online content is gathered across Europe. The
Nation of Hawaii ( (DIA 25) is another example where indigenous people tell the
North American history from the perspective that makes the indigenous people the centre rather than the
marginalised others. See also the Native Web (DIA 26) or on Egyptian
cultural heritage. One could argue: who cares about the credibility of content? To illustrate that content
does matter for people of any age we look at the following picture (DIA 27 demonstration) showing a

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recent protest in China after the publication of a Japanese history textbook. In this school book the war
crimes of the Japanese to the Chinese people were neglected or filtered out. Or the computer game Grand
Theft Auto San Andreas winner of the TMF Game Awards 12 November 2005 and very popular among young
media users and 21C learners. Protests of parents or teachers were absent though the credibility and
integrity of content is at stake. This award-winning game was elected by 50.000 online gamers and
represents cruel and violent street behaviour.

A. Cultural diversity and search engines (DIA 28)
Search engines and personalisation options; the end users perspective.
To safeguard the cultural inclusion of content search engines play an important intermediary role.
Currently various innovative personalisation options are added to search engines or information software.
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is just an example of searching software that gives personalised
information. If a website contains information on a particular topic, the RSS services will send it to the end
user. The end user marks in advance the websites from which he/she wants to receive updates, also called
webfeeds. In this way the filter on the world is created by the end user. It is also a method to deal with the
overload of information.
What can be done on an (inter) national level to encourage the cultural diversity in content made available
through search engines? An independent international agency like the European Commission could classify
or rate filterability for search engines to give the end user transparency and (statistical) insights in quality
ranking of the search engines. With the joint efforts of public agencies like the European Commission,
UNESCO or even the United Nations search engines could be monitored and their cultural (un)biased
performance could be published in open source. Also international research and development is needed on
fair and unbiased meta search engines using many different (local) sources. For example the web browser
Firefox with multiple simultaneously working „boxes‟ in one window (Hansson, 2005b) or the Aquabrowser
Library search system, see According to Hansson (2005b) it is important for the end user
to know how search engines select and deselect information, and if competitors‟ information is deleted or
ranked lower in lists. Furthermore awareness training among the companies behind the search engines is
needed. They should address the issue of how URLs are proposed at a deeper level. Otherwise there is a
risk of an unfair cultural perspective. For example, the companies behind the search engines could provide
some information (retrieval skills) on what they consider relevant and useful URLs and how this perception
can differ depending on cultural perspective. Last but not least culturally different nations like China need
extra attention.

Safeguard fairness and quality of search engines
We discussed the cultural fairness and quality of search engines. To enhance this ideal objective on the
level of search engines it is firstly recommended to use more than one general search engine, preferably
localised or specialised search engines e.g. in the case of China, Ethiopia or specified to other local needs.
The above mentioned meta-search engine may use multiple search engines in the background. However, in
practice we see that the popularity of a user friendly machine like Google will dictate the quality of search
engines regardless of the safeguards in place. Defining fairness is very subjective depending on the end user

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mind set and according to one of the FILTER respondents:” The market will drive this irrespective of
safeguards”. Search engines should explicitly state their policy so that end users can make up their own
minds about the validity of the search results. Involving end users in the selection of search findings can
also be done through, for example, an interactive approach (e.g. tick box system) that allows users to state
their preferences with regard to (un)filtered search results, is another possible solution. Search engines
should have a facility whereby end users can report websites/keywords that have been mistakenly omitted
from the search results listings.
Finally, what can be done on an (inter) national level to safeguard the fairness and quality of search
engines? Firstly, transparency of academic criteria is needed. This could be enhanced by some form of
national validating agency. The chosen criteria should be transparent to and customizable by end users.
Transparency of the working methods of search engines is needed. On an international level organisations
like the European Union may have the power to make a difference by making demands on large commercial
players like Microsoft and Google. Transparency about what is paid for display of information and what is
not. What are the ranking algorithms being used? Institutions of (higher) education may explore models of
combining commercial search engine information with learning resources produced by the institutions
themselves. In learning technology a focussed discussion is needed on criteria for choosing technological
solutions. Better insight and explicit knowledge about criteria may influence the commercial players. Last
but not least control is needed by consumer rights authorities and authorities responsible for laws regarding
fairness and truth in advertising, regulations against covert advertising. Such search engines can be run by
trusted, neutral organisations and/or with public funding.

B. Language diversity among the web (DIA 29)
We have seen a growth of English language use on the web. Increasingly, the internet also offers a platform
to filter-in minority languages. People can use the internet to communicate in their own specific language.
UNESCO (2003) recommended actions such as (1) to encourage online access to educational, cultural and
scientific content to ensure that all cultures can express themselves and have access to cyberspace in all
indigenous languages; (2) capacity building for the production of local and indigenous online content such
as the B@bel Initiative implemented in 2005, see; (3) development of
freely online accessible materials on language education and human capital skills; (4) local adaptation of
search engines and web browsers with extensive multilingual capabilities and online dictionaries, see Other good initiatives are African (DIA 30)
where the heritage of local languages is promoted, or the project with respect to the West African
language N‟ko coordinated by Hector (2004). The Script Encoding Project consists of developing a Unicode
for N‟ko, a script used by the 20 million Manden people in West Africa. Online text communication in the
N'ko script is very difficult and is therefore a significant barrier to digital literacy. The Script Encoding
Initiative implies the development of the international character encoding standards Unicode and ISO/IEC
10646. Once included in the standard and after a standardised font has been developed, African Manden
users will be able to use N'ko in email, on webpages, in blogs and any other e-documents. The project
shows how linguistic diversity can be safeguarded with respect to online content.

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C. Credibility of online content; the portal case (DIA 31)
The cultural credibility on online content depends on various factors, as we have seen earlier in this
speech. Here the content of educational portals will be taken as an example. As far as educational portals
are concerned, it is generally agreed that the content provider should be a `fair player‟. However, who is
in the best position to judge the credibility of online content? A good practice case is the online
encyclopaedia Wikipedia (, an initiative where users can edit online content of the
encyclopaedia. Despite the criticism at the start, Wikipedia is getting more credits and positive response
from larger groups in society. Furthermore, accredited educational organisations should provide credentials
for the quality of the content in educational portals. Involvement of such organisations could become part
of a quality-assurance process for the development and/or adaptation of content in educational portals.
Furthermore the creation of user groups, weblogs (e.g. see or, wiki
and forum discussions may help to get end users more involved. Hansson (2005b) underlines the importance
of storage of information. To find and evaluate information on a portal is not enough. For educational use it
needs to be there in a longer perspective, otherwise we create learners without memory.

Open source movement
The use of open source software can be found at different levels in society. For example, the British
Educational Communications and Technology Association (Becta), an ICT agency of the British government,
recommends the use of open source software in British schools. The main reason is not related to the
content diversity issue but to reduce school costs by almost 50%. The impact of the open source movement
on news content is evident too. In Southern Korea the earlier mentioned internet newspaper OhmyNews
( illustrated how readers can become the architects of their own
newspaper. Other examples are the open access publishing initiatives of Google and Yahoo. Both companies
are scanning books so that they can be searched easily on the web. The Google Print programme made an
agreement with the universities of Harvard, Michigan and Stanford millions of (snippets of) books will be
scanned in a searchable database. There are still barriers to overcome, e.g. Google is being sued by some
authors and publishers for breaching copyright laws. New issues of open source, ownership and internet
governance were discussed during the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis 16-18
November 2005 where the Secretary General of the United Nations mr. Kofi Annan stated: “…what we are
all striving for is to protect and strengthen the Internet, and to ensure that its benefits are available to
all..… I believe all of you agree that day-to-day management of the Internet must be left to technical
institutions, not least to shield it from the heat of day-to-day politics. But I think you also all acknowledge
the need for more international participation in discussions of Internet governance issues. The question is
how to achieve this. So let those discussions continue”. Annan‟s proposition to leave the management of
the internet to technical institutions is remarkable. We have seen that the technical management is
interrelated with the content matters of the (open) web. His recommendation to further discuss internet
governance issues is very relevant in the open source context.

D. Summary (DIA 32)

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In this presentation issues of cultural diversity on the web have been discussed. We are concerned about
the credibility of online content. Will there be one mainstream, a one size fits all content approach, or
does the internet have the potential to further enrich education for the 21C learner? Is the use of the pc a
mixed blessing or not? (DIA 33 kwade man) The discussion shows that lifelong learning in the internet age
is wrestling with new dilemma‟s, touching on the identity of education and the culturally inclusive
classroom. Not only is the content rapidly changing in what and how it is presented. Ownership, cultural
identity and quality, as well as the learners, are subject of change. We have seen that the fast
technological multi media innovations may create an increasing gap between age groups. Young 21C
elearners like searching (DIA 34 zoekende kinderen), searching for the best quality is a fundamental drive
of children of all ages and centuries. Young 21C learners of today like to communicate in different multi
tasking online networks, they live in an image and sound culture, whereas the older generation lives in a
text culture, making judgements on the validity of reports, articles, etc. It will be one of the great
challenges of tomorrow to bridge this cultural gap between generations of elearners. The group of
(potential) elearners has also changed. People of different cultures and nations can literally access the
same courses and work together in the same virtual classroom. We have seen that, for example, Asian
elearners are advanced in their understanding and use of the internet at the workplace. This implies new
challenges for both 21C teachers and elearners. The findings of today on the critical role that new media
can play could be a first step towards providing professionals with this information. If we care about
lifelong elearning in the 21C, we should also care about the credibility of its content.

Closure (DIA 35)
Many people have provided their contribution to this study, each in their own personal manner. I would like
to thank a few special people. First of all thanks to my colleagues in the FILTER team Roger Standaert,
Philip Uys, Peter Soltesz, Henrik Hansson, Mary Bolger, Jorgen Grubbe, Chris van Seventer, Jan Atle Toska,
Maria Giaoutzi, Mary Canning, Philip Uys, Attilio Monasta and Paul Clark.            Without our stimulating
discussions on elearning and filtering issues, I would probably never have been here. This also applies to my
colleagues at the Hague University‟ HRM Kenniskring Brigitte Broersma, Karin Potting, Hans Veldman,
Klaasbert Moed, David Harry and Gerard de Koning. Together we organised various symposia to discuss e-
HRM issues. Also the meetings with my colleagues at the Vrije Universiteit Donna Driver, Lidewey van der
Sluis, Enno Masurel and Paul Jansen sharpened the further conceptualisation of lifelong elearning in the
perspective of business studies. Special thanks are due to my colleagues in comparative studies for more
than two decades Trevor Corner and David Weir for their inspiring support during recent months in
preparing today‟ program. I hope our fruitful collaboration will continue in the future. Also Paul Lefrere
who offered valuable ideas in the course of its realisation, and the European Commission DG Education and
Culture, in particular Brian Holmes who encouraged me to undertake this study. I am grateful to Helen
Gurney and Alison Rasmussen the secretaries of the School of Lifelong Learning and Education of Middlesex
University for all the administrative and last minute work to be done. Finally, I should like to mention my
gratitude to my family and friends who have supported me over the years, in particular my husband and our
children. They provided a warm atmosphere in which to write this piece of work. Last but not least I would
like to thank my parents who gave me so many opportunities in life.

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Thank you for your attention. (DIA 37)

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