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Reeder, Kenneth; Macfadyen, Leah P.; Chase, Mackie; Roche, Jörg (2004): Falling through the (cultural) gaps? Intercultural communication challenges in cyberspace. 4. International Conference on Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication, 27.6. - 1.7.2004, Karlsbad, Schweden.




In this paper we report findings of a study of online participation by culturally diverse participants in a distance adult education course offered in Canada, and examine two of the study’s early findings. First, we explore both the historical and cultural origins of “cyberculture values” as manifested in our findings, using the notions of explicit and implicit enforcement of those values. Second, we examine the notion of “cultural gaps” between participants in the course and the potential consequences for online communication successes and difficulties. We also discuss theoretical perspectives from Sociolinguistics, Applied Linguistics, Genre and Literacy Theory and Aboriginal Education that may shed further light on “cultural gaps” in online communications. Finally, we identify the need for additional research, primarily in the form of larger scale comparisons across cultural groups of patterns of participation and interaction, but also in the form of case studies that can be submitted to microanalyses of the form as well as the content of communicator’s participation and interaction online.