Issues in E-Learning: A Thai case study
City University of Hong Kong
Education and Arts
E-learning is a very topical and much misused term. Nevertheless, many countries both developed and developing, are rushing to embrace this new educational technology. Perceived benefits in both cost of delivery and educational outcomes are often the driving force. This has led to a new phase in the globalisation of education, with education being sold on the world market like any other product. With this global trend come issues that go beyond those of content, delivery and even language. E-Learning materials are very expensive to produce so its success largely depends upon economies of scale, often this leads to a one-size-fits-all pedagogy. Even locally produced e-learning materials can suffer in this way as often the content is local but the instructional model is international. The result is that often local content is plugged into overseas e-learning templates, without the model of instruction being modified to suit the learning style or the culture into which it is being delivered. Thailand is a country with very unique, strong cultural traditions and her peoples have largely Buddhist religious beliefs. These two factors are interlocked and affect all aspects of Thai life, including education. Traditional Thai education has evolved to complement and sustain this unique and diverse culture. Copying e-learning styles from overseas countries may not be suited to Thai students and more importantly, inappropriate e-learning styles may affect Thai culture through influencing the values of the new generation. This paper looks at this subject from a Thai perspective. Through the eyes of its authors, one of whom is who is Thai, it examines the links between culture and education in Thailand and looks at the way Thai students are taught to learn. The paper reports on one of the author's research into this area and concludes with suggestions for designers of Thai e-learning.