Gender studies, E-learning English, аdvantages and disadvantages

Gender studies

Gender studies is a theoretical work in the social sciences or
humanities that focuses on issues of sex and gender in language and
society, and often addresses related issues including racial and ethnic
oppression, postcolonial societies, and globalization. Work in gender
studies influences and is influenced by the related fields of Ethnic
Studies, African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Latino/a
Studies, and Native American Studies.

Work in gender studies is often associated with work in feminist theory,
queer studies, and other theoretical aspects of cultural studies. While
work in gender studies is principally found in humanities departments
and publications (in areas such as English literature and other literary
studies), it is also found in social-scientific areas such as women’s
studies, anthropology, sociology, and psychology.

Gender in Psychology

The aggregate body of literature in the field of psychology says little
about gender in certain and absolute terms. An enormous number of pages
exist exploring the practical differences between men and women at
present, but few if any provide uncontradicted information on the exact
cause of those differences. There is an ongoing debate concerning Nature
versus nurture that shows no sign of being resolved in the near future;
while the issue of whether certain characteristics are determined by
genetic factors or by exposure to environmental factors is important in
general, it is particularly important in light of modern feminist
concerns.

Sex/gender distinction

The sex/gender distinction is a concept in feminist theory, political
feminism, and sociology which distinguishes sex, a natural or biological
feature, from gender, the cultural or learned significance of sex. Taken
to its limit, the distinction maintains that gender is totally
undetermined by sex.

The distinction is strategically important for some strands of feminist
theory and politics, particularly second-wave feminism, because on it is
premised the argument that gender is not biological destiny, and that
the patriarchal oppression of women is a cultural phenomenon which need
not necessarily follow from biological sexual difference. The
distinction allows feminists to accept some form of natural sexual
difference while criticizing gender inequality. Some third-wave
feminists like Judith Butler and French feminists like Monique Wittig
and social constructionists within sociology have disputed the
biological-natural status the distinction imputes to sex, arguing
instead that both sex and gender are culturally constructed and
structurally complicit.

In official documents (eg. IQ tests, government documents) more and more
the word ‘sex’ is being replaced by the word ‘gender’. To add to the
problems there is usually not enough space to write ‘masculine’ or
‘feminine’ which are examples of the correct term, so one is forced to
write ‘male?’ or ‘female’ which is incorrect. This is a worldwide trend
because of the conservative attitude towards the word sex.

E-learning English

E-learning is an all-encompassing term generally used to refer to
computer-enhanced learning, although it is often extended to include the
use of mobile technologies such as PDAs and MP3 players. It may include
the use of web-based teaching materials and hypermedia in general,
multimedia CD-ROMs or web sites, discussion boards, collaborative
software, e-mail, blogs, wikis, text chat, computer aided assessment,
educational animation, simulations, games, learning management software,
electronic voting systems and more, with possibly a combination of
different methods being used.

Along with the terms learning technology and Educational Technology, the
term is generally used to refer to the use of technology in learning in
a much broader sense than the computer-based training or Computer Aided
Instruction of the 1980s. It is also broader than the terms Online
Learning or Online Education which generally refer to purely web-based
learning. In cases where mobile technologies are used, the term
M-learning has become more common.

F.-learning is naturally suited to distance learning and flexible
learning, but can also be used in conjunction with face-to-face
teaching, in which case the term Blended learning is commonly used.

In higher education especially, the increasing tendency is to create a
Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) (which is sometimes combined with a
Managed Information System (MIS) to create a Managed Learning
Environment) in which all aspects of a course are handled through a
consistent user interface standard throughout the institution. A growing
number of physical universities, as well as newer online-only colleges,
have begun to offer a select set of academic degree and certificate
programs via the Internet at a wide range of levels and in a wide range
of disciplines.

E-learning can also refer to educational web sites such as those
offering worksheets and interactive exercises for children. The term is
also used extensively in the business sector where it generally refers
to cost-effective online training.

Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages of e-learning often include flexibility and convenience for
the learner especially if they have other commitments, facilitation of
communication between learners, greater adaptability to a learner’s
needs, more variety in learning experience with the use of multimedia
and the non-verbal presentation of teaching material. Video instruction
provides visual and audio learning that can be paused, and reversed for
watching again. For organizations with distributed and constantly
changing learners (e.g. restaurant staff), e-learning has huge benefits
when compared with orgnizing classroom training.

Others are critical of e-learning in the context of education, because
the face-to-face human interaction with a teacher has been removed from
the process, and thus, some argue, the process is no longer
«educational» in the highest philosophical sense (for example, as
defined by RS Peters, a philosopher of education). However, these human
interactions can be encouraged through audio or video-based
web-conferencing programs.

Pedagogical approaches

There are four fundamental pedagogical perspectives which historically
have influenced the approach to computer based pedagogy, distance
education and continues to provide guiding principles for the pedagogy
of e-learning:

Cognitive perspective – which focuses on the cognitive processes
involved in learning as well as how the brain works.

Emotional perspective – which focuses on the emotional aspects of
learning, like motivation, engagement, fun, etc.

Behavioural perspective – which focuses on the skills and behavioural
outcomes of the learning process. Role-playing and application to
on-the-job settings.

Contextual perspective – which focuses on the environmental and social
aspects which can stimulate learning. Interaction with other people,
collaborative discovery and the importance of peer support as well as
pressure.

Ethno-Cultural Component in Global English

Intercultural communication principles

Intercultural communication principles guide the process of exchanging
meaningful and unambiguous information across cultural boundaries, in a
way that preserves mutual respect and minimises antagonism. For these
purposes, culture is a shared system of symbols, beliefs, attitudes,
values, expectations, and norms of behaviour. It refers to coherent
groups of people whether resident wholly or partly within state
territories, or existing without residence in any particular territory.
Hence, these principles may have equal relevance when a tourist seeks
help, where two well-established independent corporations attempt to
merge their operations, and where politicians attempt to negotiate world
peace. Two factors have raised the importance of this topic:

• improvements in communication and transportation technology have made
it possible for previously stable cultures to meet in unstructured
situations, e.g. the internet opens lines of communication without
mediation, while budget airlines transplant ordinary citizens into
unfamilar milieux. Experience proves that merely crossing cultural
boundaries can be considered theatening, while positive attempts to
interact may provoke defensive responses. Misunderstanding may be
compounded by either an exaggerated sensitivity to possible slights, or
an exaggerated and over-protective fear of giving offence;

• some groups believe that the phenomenon of globalisation has reduced
cultural diversity and so reduced the opportunity for misunderstandings,
but characterising people as a homogeneous market is simplistic. One
product or brand only appeals to the material aspirations of one
self-selecting group of buyers, and its sales performance will not
affect the vast multiplicity of factors that may separate the cultures.

People from different cultures encode and decode messages differently,
increasing the chances of misunderstanding, so the safety-first
consequence of recognising cultural differences should be to assume that
everyone’s thoughts and actions are not just like ours. Such assumptions
stem from potentially devastating ignorance and can lead to much
frustration for members of both cultures. Entering a culture with this
type of egocentrism, the assumption your own culture is correct, is
another byproduct of ignorance and cultural misunderstanding. Main types
of misunderstanding are:

Language

Even when two people think they can speak each other’s language, the
chance of error is high. Usages and contextual inferences may be
completely different between cultures. So even though one speaker may
have learned the vocabulary of the other’s language, selecting the most
appropriate words, with the correct intonation, spoken with appropriate
eye contact while standing a proper distance from the other are all
critical even before one considers the propriety of the topic to be
discussed.

It is essential that people research the cultures and communication
conventions of those whom they propose to meet. This will minimise the
risk of making the elementary mistakes. It is also prudent to set a
clear agenda so that everyone understands the nature and purpose of the
interaction. When language skills are unequal, clarifying one’s meaning
in four ways will improve communication:

1. avoid using slang and idioms, choosing words that will convey only
the most specific denotative meaning;

2. listen carefully and, if in doubt, ask for confirmation of
understanding (particularly important if local accents and pronunciation
are a problem);

3. recognise that accenting and intonation can cause meaning to vary
significantly; and

4. respect the local communication formalities and styles, and watch for
any changes in body language.

5. Investigate their culture’s perception of your culture by reading
literature about your culture through their eyes before entering into
communication with them. This will allow you to prepare yourself for
projected views of your culture you will be bearing as a visitor in
their culture.

If it is not possible to learn the other’s language, it is expedient to
show some respect by learning a few words. In all important exchanges, a
translator can convey the message.

When writing, the choice of words represent the relationship between the
reader and the writer so more thought and care should be invested in the
text since it may well be thoroughly analysed by the recipient.

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