Socio-Culturalism and Knowledge Sharing in Multicultural Virtual Learning Communities: Mapping a Conceptual Framework using a Case-based ‘Quanto-Phenomenography’ Approach
The aim of this paper is to investigate the impact of socio-cultural values on the process of knowledge sharing in a multicultural virtual (online) learning community. The study was conducted on a community of place consisting of a mix of students (n = 50) from different parts of the world using a virtual learning environment designed to support learning within and outside the classroom. Pertinent to this, the paper explores three significant areas: a). what societal and cultural values influence the process of knowledge sharing; b) which values are considered important by the community members; and c). do these socio-cultural values limit the utility of a virtual learning environment. The theoretical basis of this study is strongly related to Vygotsky’s (1983) theory of ‘mediated mind’ and Thorne’s (1999) theory on ‘internet-mediation’. The authors conduct a theoretical discourse of the literature to develop a framework consistent upon the VLC model proposed by Schwier (2007) and the three-phased integrative model of virtual communities as societies developed by Romm et al. (1997). The authors use an integrative ‘quanto-phenomenographic’ approach by employing a mix of descriptive and phenomenographic research. The analysis revealed that the socio-cultural values influenced the knowledge sharing process at two-levels i.e. the user level and the environment level yielding altogether 12 socio-cultural values which including nationality, integrity, trust, gender etc. which might inhibit the utility of a virtual learning environment.
Keywords: knowledge sharing, virtual learning community, socio-culturalism, culture,
multiculturalism, virtual learning environment, phenomenography
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