ResearchOER Journal :: Issue 02: The use of Open Content Learning Activities

A multilevel approach to explore cross-cultural differences in motivations for contribution to open educational resources (OER)


Dr Amal Hanna

Managing Editor

International Journal of Research in Open Educational Resources



Background & Aims: Understanding cultural values and their impact on human behaviour is important especially when we attempt to enhance certain engagement in a behaviour from a particular cultural group. Open Educational Resources (OER) are increasingly used in formal education and informal self-learning. This paper aims to summarise a series of studies that seek exploring cultural differences in engagement in open content learning activities (OCLA).


Methodology & Methods: Two cultures were studied: Arabic culture as a representative of Collectivist East, and English culture as a representative of Individualist West. Content Analysis was used to explore OERs, in order to choose appropriate study population. Web-based Survey was used to explore differences (and similarities) in OER motivation at universal level. Face-to-Face Questionnaires were used to explore views of individuals in motivations at cultural level. Online Interviews were conducted to further our understanding of OER motivations at the individual level.


Results & Findings: The content analysis revealed that Wikibooks, among 12 other OER projects, has a large number of published modules and a large users’ base compared with other OER projects. The analysis of web-based survey data revealed that users of Wikibooks may be intrinsically and extrinsically motivated to write open textbooks; and lack of confidence and lack of wiki skills emerged from the results as significant barriers towards contribution. Results also revealed that Arabic participants were more motivated by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations than English participants. Such results suggest some degrees of universality in self-determination although the ‘Western-based’ self-determination theory (SDT). Analysis results from the face-to-face questionnaire data revealed that self-orientated reasons were more often reported as motivating users to contribute to Wikibooks which may imply that a cost-benefit analysis performed by those contributors. Interviews analysis revealed greater similarities in motivations among participants from the same culture: while collectivist Arabic participants reported being motivated by obligations and responsibilities toward community, individualist English participants felt motivated by enjoyment and values of information sharing.


Keywords: Open Content Educational Resources, Open Educational Resources, Wikis, Arabic, English, East, West, Motivations, Cross-Cultures, Open Content Learning Activities, Mixed-Methods, multilevel approach





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Cite as: Hanna, A. 2015, ‘A multilevel approach to explore cross-cultural differences in motivations for contribution to open educational resources (OER)’, International Journal of Research in Open Educational Resources, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 51-79,