Integrating culture in design and the need for a framework

September 16, 2009

I haven’t read a lot of research in the area of culture and instructional design – especially integration. Here’s a good one.

Patricia Young, Ph.D. did a literature review on the topic of  integrating culture in the design of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The definition of culture used in the article is from Geert Hofstede:

Culture is the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the member of one human group from those of another. Culture in this sense is a system of collectively held values.

Young notes that “in ID, definition of culture are more broadly based to include sociological, anthropological, and educational perspectives.” She writes about integrating culture in design through internationalization (eliminate culture; homogenous technological product that is usable across cultures) and localization (specialize; make acceptable to target group).

One “model of culture” she mentions is Hofstede’s five dimensions:

  • Power, distance
  • Uncertainty avoidance
  • Masculinity-femininity
  • Individualism-collectivism
  • Time orientation

Methods to integrate culture in the design of ICTs are cultural variation (design specification to accommodate for variations in learners, characteristics of learners and the tasks for learning and content – like the use of graphic symbols vs. text) and cultural research (describing the target audience in terms of learning strategies and contexts for learning, e.g. humor).

Young suggests that the design has not caught up with technology and that the future of integration in design lies in changing mindsets first and design practices second.

To follow Young’s work in this area, refer to her website about her future book here.  The book describes a framework to integrate culture in design.

The Culture Based Model (CBM) is an intercultural instructional design framework that guides designers through the design, development, management and assessment process. This model works in constructing custom development, adding on to existing designs, re-engineering off-the-shelf products, and providing diagnostic evaluations. CBM has 8 areas consistent with the acronym: ID-TABLET. These areas include Inquiry, Development, Team, Assessments, Brainstorming, Learners, Elements and Training. CBM’s ID-TABLET focuses on project management and project design. The areas under project management include: Brainstorming, Team, Development, Learners, Assessments, and Training. The project design focuses on monitoring and content development. The areas under project design include: Inquiry and Elements. These areas operate simultaneously and maintain an interactive relation. As a model that seeks to meet culture based design decisions, CBM is a comprehensive tool for the design process.

Young, P. (2008) Integrating Culture in the Design of ICTs, British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 39 No 1 p. 6-17.

Previous post:

Next post: