Cultural Dimensions of Learning in Online Teacher Education Courses


  • Anthony Neil Hunt
  • Sue Tickner The University of Auckland



distance education, electronic learning, online learning, pedagogy, multicultural education, culture, ethnicity, learning preferences


Aotearoa New Zealand’s demographics are changing rapidly and, as a consequence, there is now greater diversity in the tertiary student population. This diversity is evident in the continuing growth of Māori and Pasifika student participation. Teacher education is increasingly emphasising social competencies and intercultural awareness. Online pedagogies based on sociocultural methods require openness to difference, understanding, and sharing; but it is a challenge to support productive learning communities that span diverse cultural backgrounds. This study began with a literature review, and then the eight dimensions in the cultural dimensions of learning framework (CDLF; Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010) survey were modified for use with online courses. The modified survey was trialled with 112 students and four lecturers in 11 online teacher education courses offered by a New Zealand university. Although respondents exhibited a wide range of choice in the survey, the participants were not sufficiently diverse to reveal any differences that might be attributed to culture. It was concluded that the CDLF could provide a useful stimulus to promote discussion amongst learners and teachers and that this discussion could raise awareness of the diversity of approaches to learning that could have a cultural basis. However, the lack of attention to indigenous worldviews and the limited evidence of reliability in the CDLF scales suggest that further empirical research of this survey instrument is unlikely to be worthwhile.

Author Biographies

Anthony Neil Hunt

Tony Hunt is an honorary research fellow in the School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice of the University of Auckland Faculty of Education and Social Work, from which he retired recently as a senior lecturer. His teaching and research interests have focused on e-learning, educational technology, pedagogy, and teacher education. He has also worked in a professional development role in the Faculty with the former Centre for Educational Design and Development, which he managed for a number of years. Before working at the University of Auckland he was a senior lecturer at the Auckland College of Education, an educational media specialist with the Inner London Education Authority, and a secondary school teacher in London and Auckland.

Sue Tickner, The University of Auckland

Sue Tickner is Educational Designer at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education and Social Work. Her research interests are in educational design, online communities and collaborative technologies, and professional development for e-learning. She has worked in online and distance education and educational development for over 25 years, mostly in the United Kingdom. Before coming to New Zealand she was a staff developer at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Sue has participated in many research projects in e-learning both in New Zealand and with European partners. She has also worked at Stirling University in Scotland and as a tutor with the UK Open University.