Comparison of Web 2.0 Technology Acceptance Level Based on Cultural Differences

Article excerpt

Introduction

Today, college students use Web 2.0 applications more frequently than ever in and out of the classrooms. Applications such as blogs, instant messenger, online communities, video sharing tool, and web conferencing tool are gaining popularity. Students use them to create their own contents on the web, contribute and collaborate with others, and develop social networks via multiple formats of media and representation (O'Reilly, 2005). These activities although imply the possibility of using Web 2.0 applications for instructional purposes in higher education (Weller, Pegler, & Mason, 2005), it also raises the question of whether or not students can efficiently utilize the same Web 2.0 tools for learning (Huang & Behara, 2007). Even though students already use a variety of Web 2.0 applications on a daily basis, they may not know how to use them efficiently for gaining new knowledge or developing new skills. Educators in higher education interested in using Web 2.0 applications also need empirical evidences to help them integrate Web 2.0 applications in their instructional environments. This study aimed to explore these issues as an effort to promote the utilization of Web 2.0 applications to enhance learning experiences. Specifically, we were interested in exploring cultural differences' effect on Web 2.0 application utilization since research has suggested that such differences are present in the virtual world as well as in the physical world (Pfeil, Zaphiris, & Ang, 2006). Through comparison between participants from the U.S. and South Korea we aimed to investigate the usage of, and the technology acceptance level of Web 2.0 applications among college students. This study intended to answer the following questions:

* Do students from different countries prefer different Web 2.0 applications for learning?

* Are there different attitudes towards using Web 2.0 applications based on their cultural contexts?

Web 2.0 Applications for Learning

According to Anderson (2007), Web 2.0 is a collective term for a group of web-based technologies that broaden users' communication capabilities and options. Available tools include blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, online video sharing (e.g., YouTube, Google Video), and online social networking sites (eg., Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning). Timothy O'Reilly (2005), who initially conceived the term, defines Web 2.0 as an active and open web architecture that values users' proactive participation and contribution, which makes it more personalized and interactive than the previous generation Web applications (McLoughlin & Lee, 2007). Due to Web 2.0 applications' features in promoting proactive participation and collaborative sharing, they are suggested to bear great potential in educational settings.

In formal learning, Safran, Helic, & Gutl (2007) emphasized that Web 2.0 applications make it possible to uphold critical and analytical thinking, facilitate intuitive and associational thinking, and support analogical thinking through ease access to rich information and interacting various opinions. Such applications might be efficient in conducting case studies due to their collaborative nature based on experiential learning approach (Huang & Behara, 2007). Furthermore, Web 2.0 applications enable users to connect to and collaborate with others with diverse interactions (Selwyn, 2007). For educators who implement student-centered learning activities and students who want to gain knowledge or skills through student-centered learning, Web 2.0 applications could also provide versatile opportunities. Boyd (2007) claimed that social aspects of Web 2.0 might support three activities that characterize student-centered learning. First is the support for conversational interaction. Second is the support for social feedback. Third is the support for social networks and relationship between people for enhancing the learning experience. …