Is Digital Scholarship limited by cultural myopia?



The parameters of scholarship in education are often based on Boyer’s (1990) dimensions of discovery, integration, application and teaching. Healey further expands on the scholarship of teaching to include “research into teaching and learning, critical reflection of practice and communication and dissemination about the practice of one’s subject” (2000, p. 169).


Broadening the discussion to include the transformational aspects of “digital” technology, educational scholarship has been enriched through open data, open publishing, a blurring of the academic and ‘real’ world, open teaching and learning and a movement from the individual to the distributed scholar and global access (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon, & Kinsley, 2012). However, Pearce etal. (2012, p. 169) cautioned that technology is “a necessary but not sufficient condition” for true scholarship. The question is, given the potential and reality of technology, what else is needed to fulfil the obligations of a modern ‘digital’ scholar?

Argument statement

This essay will argue that the dominance of a Western cognitive constructivist tradition in online and offline education, led by British, Australasian and North American (BANA) institutions limits knowledge, understanding and progress not only of its students, but of its scholars as well in exploiting the true potential of open educational tools and resources.


There are four main reasons for situating this essay in the context of teaching and learning, in particular, a critical reflection of digital scholarship practice in relation to multi-cultural multi-lingual (MCML) learning environments. Firstly, demographic shifts in education are occurring at an unprecedented rate as a result of globalisation, immigration, migration, and war (Boelens, 2010; Boelens, Cherek, Tilke, & Bailey, 2015). Secondly a significant shift to online education where the global market is showing a 9.2% five year annual compound growth rate and is now worth $107 billion led by India and China (Pappas, 2015). Thirdly, work and employment increasingly is global, remote and disaggregated with globally mobile and fluid workforce and both employers and employees requiring “just in time” rather than “just in case” skills and knowledge. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is a moral, ethical and value-based argument. On the one hand, MCML students are prejudiced by the dominance of a Western cognitive constructivist tradition in education (Catterick, 2007; Sadykova, 2014; Zhang & Kenny, 2010) and on the other, ignoring the MCML dimension limits critical reflective practice, the potential of international digital scholarship and knowledge and understanding of a large part of the educational scholars’ field.

Interpretive Discussion


Traditionally, creating culturally-responsive accommodations for MLMC students has faced considerable institutional opposition. The response of educational institutions, comprised a narrow range between non-accommodation and intervention in the form of student induction into ‘the system’ i.e. modify the student not the program (Catterick, 2007; Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010). Arguments against interventions cite costs, quality control, and expectations of the students themselves and their future employers that they are “Westernised” as a by-product of their education (Catterick, 2007).


Parrish and Linder-VanBerschot (2010) acknowledge these issues and suggest that institutions distinguish between entrenched cultural values and superficial practices, and create interventions with constructivist and instructivist alternatives or choices in learning activities and instructional format only where these are critical to learning success. Researchers sound a word of caution against cultural generalizations that lead to stereotyping and discrimination (Gazi, 2014; Hardy & Tolhurst, 2014; Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010). This can be ameliorated through a combination of embedding cultural considerations in each stage of the instructional design process, ensuring an iterative practice of reflection and modification and encouraging student interaction and feedback (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010; Young, 2009).


Models designed to foster awareness of cultural implications in education vary in their orientation. Initially research done in corporations (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010) and physical classrooms led to classroom or systems originated and oriented models such as the Inclusion, Attitude, Meaning, Competence (IAMC) model of Ginsberg & Wlodkowski (2009, cited in Suzuki & Nemoto, 2012) and the Cultural Dimensions Learning Framework (CDLF) (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010) which were adapted for online learning.


In contrast, the Culture Based Model (CBM) framework of Young (2009) and the Cultural Adaptation Process (CAP) model (Edmundson, 2007b) are product oriented with the aim of guiding designers to incorporate culture in the design of digital and online educational products. (See Appendix 1 for illustrations of these models).

Reflection on teaching and learning in a multi-cultural environment

Educational institutions are not the only suppliers of teaching and learning. Commercial entities, particularly multinational companies, go to an enormous amount of effort in creating culturally compatible user interfaces – see Edmundson’s (2007a) book “Globalized e-learning cultural challenges”. One could argue that this effort directly benefits their bottom line, however all institutions would benefit from this approach.


Fortunately there are some researchers open-minded enough to examine the assumptions of their own culture, reflect on the embedded cultural practices of teaching and learning and those of the digital platforms and applications and thoughtfully researching ways to reconcile the two so as to optimise the learning of their students (Chan & Rao, 2010; Looker, 2011; Ren & Montgomery, 2015; Sadykova, 2014). Critical examination of one’s own culture and introducing new technologies in a more considered and less forceful way, appears to result in more success and acceptance. Pedagogy aligned with sociocultural context allows scaffolding of current to new practice and understanding (Chan, 2010; Chan & Rao, 2010; Law et al., 2010; Rao & Chan, 2010).


Chan (2010) demonstrated aspects of the Confucian approach to teaching and learning were highly compatible with the values of digital scholarship, and showed how modifications in the way technological tools for collaborative learning were introduced positively impacted their acceptance by teachers and students in a high school setting.


More recently, in examining Korean students’ experiences of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Ahn, Yyon and Cha (2015) built on the CDLF of Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot (2010) showing how awareness, cultural sensitivity and relatively minor adjustments could enhance the online learning experience of such students without detracting from the quality and substance of the courses.


The introduction of digital innovation in the learning environment does not automatically lead to universal acceptance, but can resoundingly be rejected in any culture when it is felt basic assumptions and expectations are being violated – as the study of an online peer-to-peer review workshop tool revealed (Wilson, Diao, & Huang, 2015). Even if peer-to-peer review and data analytics have meta-cognitive benefits, their implementation is often poor and occurs within a context where cooperation and collaboration is espoused but underlying assumptions and pressures of competition and the importance of good grades prevail (Durall & Gros, 2014; Wilson et al., 2015). Similarly, suboptimal outcomes are seen if the social-emotional needs and group formation process is neglected in online scholarship or learning and made subservient to certification and task performance (Carabajal, LaPointe, & Gunawardena, 2003).


Current trends, futurist predictions, theoretical perspectives

Disaggregation and re-aggregation appears to be a theme in many of the discussions on trends and the future of education – something technology allows in ways previously not possible.


Ware, writing in 2011, predicted that the publication of academic research would be disaggregated between the repository process of registration and dissemination of work and the certification process which includes peer review and branding – an idea that harks back to the learned societies of the 18th and 19th centuries. (Ware, 2011). Four years later this is the reality in open access repositories in China (Ren & Montgomery, 2015). Retractions of research papers have also resulted in the calls for the publication of the complete research work flow including raw data – something that is now technologically possible and feasible as interrogation and data analytic tools develop (Larsen, 2008; Oransky & Marcus, 2010; Ware, 2011).


Technology enhances the agency of the self-directed learner (SDL) to re-aggregate OER to suit their learning needs. Mike Caulfield’s idea of choral explanations in OER textbooks:

“the text branches off into multiple available explanations of the same concept, explanations authored individually by a wide range of instructors, researchers, and students. You can keep reading until you find the explanation that makes sense, or you can start with simpler explanations and work your way to nuance.” (Caulfield, 2016, para. 63)

opens many possibilities for expanding textbooks to accommodate linguistic and cultural diversity – something international students already do when they purchase two (physical) textbooks, one that is not only in their home language but also in their home pedagogical culture (Bailey, 2016; Kim & Mizuishi, 2014)


Bates cautions that there is still an agency role to structure and accredit that knowledge acquisition (Bates, 2011), but in a globally mobile and fluid workforce, those aggregators will need to accommodate different cultures of learning. Public/private educational entities such as Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education are taking a regional lead in exporting their vocational training through their educational services division (Chong, 2014; ITEES, 2015; Li, Yao, & Chen, 2014).


Similarly consideration could be given to using the models and algorithms in the field of adaptive learning (Charles Sturt University, n.d.) and personalisation in order to create cultural adaptations based on parameters set by students.


Two universities, although very different in design are using innovative online technology, Kiron University to give refugees the opportunity to further their education (Bates, 2015) and Minerva University to give fee paying students a global education that is location independent for both students and professors (Wood, 2014). Such disruptive models of higher education raise all kinds of questions on the implications of digital learning including whether scholarship and research will continue if scholarship is not directly visible or rewarded (Harry Lewis, cited by Wood, 2014).

Implications for scholarly practice

In order to understand the role of technology, Kalantzis and Cope (2015) go back to the etymology of ‘media’ as agents bridging meaning across space and time to facilitate communication, understanding and learning. This has huge implications for scholarly practice.


Literature on global collaboration in the classroom (Higgitt et al., 2008; Thombs, Ivarsson, & Gillis, 2011), the research process (Siemens & Burr, 2013; Siemens, Cunningham, Duff, & Warwick, 2011) and online conferencing (LaPointe & Gunawardena, 2004) enumerates many benefits of such collaboration. These include but are not limited to the opening of and access to new knowledge; flattening of hierarchies, easier discovery and connection mechanisms; extending the reach and equity of scholars and reducing costs. Some of the problems however, include issues with technological difficulties and failure, differences in equipment standards and capabilities, scheduling issues due to time differences, misunderstandings due to language, the nature of computer-mediated communication including its text-basis, time-independence, asynchronous nature and inability to interpret culturally based non-verbal cues (Pearce et al., 2012; Selwyn, 2010; Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012a, 2012b; Weller, 2011).


Of these, language remains a significant barrier to open access international research and learning. Even where all members of a research team are proficient in a language (usually English), research in other languages may not be accessible to non-speakers (Loan & Sheikh, 2016; Ren & Montgomery, 2015), and language and cultural norms may be intertwined where nuance can result in misunderstanding (Siemens & Burr, 2013). As translation software continue to evolve will more students be able to study and do internationally recognised and disseminated research in their home language, (Cheesman et al., 2016; Palaiologou, 2007; Sadykova, 2014)? Or will the dominance of English prevail – albeit with a move to “global English” as envisioned by Schell (2007) and what will be lost as a result?


Digital scholarship within the context of international and globalised education could benefit from additional critical reflection into the assumptions concerning and attitudes towards multi-cultural and multi-lingual students and fellow researchers. Given the plethora of technological tools, research, knowledge and practice in non-BANA educational institutions, of intrepid researchers in BANA institutions and of multi-national corporations there are ample examples of best practice and the potential to positively impact student learning and educational scholarship in the digital realm.



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Appendix 1: Illustrations of Models


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Figure 1: IAMC model Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2009 (cited in Suzuki & Nemoto, 2012 p. 25)


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Figure 2: Cultural Dimensions Learning Framework (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010, summarized in Ahn, Yoon & Cha, 2015, p.207)


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Figure 3: Culture Based Model, Young, 2009, p. 38


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Figure 4: Cultural Adaptation Process (Edmundson, 2007b, p. 269)


Rambling thought organisation

I need to write an interpretive discussion paper. I’m trying to organise my thoughts. My first and foremost thought is that writing this paper is in direct contravention to the topic of the paper, which is “Digital scholarship in education, in the context of interdisciplinary knowledge and research” – because my digital scholarship is leading me down all sorts of other avenues and thoughts which definitely do NOT fit into the marking rubric. I’m also immensely frustrated at being a distance learner and not knowing who in the zoo to discuss these thoughts with. I’m tired of rehashing the articles that all say the same thing about the evolution from web 1.0 to 2.0 to 3.0 and the fact that we all can be producers and not just consumers, open access (OA), MOOCs, twitter, blogs blah blah.


What are my thoughts right now – on the exact topic?  In the first place that digital has not been transformative enough to scholarship.  Yes in theory, no in fact. The digital spaces I see in education have been highjacked not by scholars but by self-promoting practitioners of the twitterati. There is a lot of anecdotal rather than research based evidence. And they’re echo-chambers of white middle-class educators, often male. I need to expand my networks, and I’ve been making a concerted effort to follow people who are publishing real peer-reviewed research – some of which are on social media and some of which aren’t.  Some who tweet about their research, most who don’t. Or just refer to conferences they’re talking at or have talked at, or their followers enticingly frustratingly refer to such presentations. The thing is that for all this to be transformative it also needs to be heretical. And heretics are not welcome in institutions. Because they threaten the control and status quo of institutions, and by definition are persona-non-grata and there are pathways of recognition (leading to tenure at which point hopefully you’d be entrenched enough to say what the damn you please but by then you’d probably be entrenched enough to buy into the status quo and have a stake in maintaining it). Yes they are clever. Who runs the MOOCs? Who feeds them, who controls them, finances them and their content? – the institutions.  And the money. Yes, always follow the money. All those wonderful digital tools. Those databases, those journals, encyclopedias.  My gold standard for testing anything a salesman throws at me as a school librarian is looking up “socialism” and “communism” in their search engines. Try it. Just try it.

What is education for?  I’ll buy the ‘transformative’ bit on the micro individual well-heeled personal level, – but take it local or regional or national and you have the ‘productive literate citizen’ emerging. What do we want from the 21st Century learner? Link looks great doesn’t it.  Global citizens and all those skills (not content or facts), and then you click on “pricing” and you can clone plans. I repeat. You can pay to clone plans.  You can pay someone else to do your thinking and planning for you can you can teach to that plan and create clones of every other global child whose school or teacher can afford this.  It’s so slick it’s so nicely designed, it’s so intuitive and easy.

Confrontational and Challenging

Easy. Am I a puritan that I think things have to be a struggle and difficult? Not really, I like Vygotsky and the ideal of proximal development.  I don’t like when kids are proximally developed to be led by the nose or to follow the breadcrumbs to the cottage in the woods made of candy only to find out that they’ll be trapped by the witch of educational debt in a cage that is not of their making.  No, I think that education does not really have so much to be difficult as in inaccessible and alienating, but I think it needs to be difficult in that it should be confrontational and challenging.  And education dominated by packaging – of textbooks, of websites, of learning platforms, of learning plans – created by big corporations and big non-profits cannot be confrontational. It can only be nationalistic or capitalistic or serve the needs of the society in which it finds itself. Or the version of what that society thinks its needs are.  Good productive (national) citizens. Because often being a global citizen is at odds with being a national citizen. Because then you might just want to open the borders and let the refugees in.  You may not vote for the hawks. You’d want to leak confidential documents, hack into university databases, give maternity & paternity leave, free education, a minimum wage, universal health coverage AND WHO WOULD PAY FOR ALL THAT? Huh?

Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel

So the digital. The open borders, the open access. The flat earth. Where a researcher / research at the other end of the world is at the touch of a button or a click of a mouse. As long as you both have the internet. And speak each other’s language (or preferably that current god of all language, English), as long as that research is in a bundle paid for by your institution. As long as you’re part of an institution, because paying $39.95 per article for research that may or may not be relevant, may or may not be any good is no joke for the casual dilettante. And when you leave formal education, when you graduate and lose access to all that body of formal knowledge, lose your writing on fora and institutional blogs, when the gates to the ivory towers slam shut? Are you no longer a scholar? Are you an ex-scholar? A practitioner? I think about this a lot as I reach the end of this degree.

Language and culture

Coming back to the whole language thing.  According to Ren and Montgomery (2015) from 1996 to 2012 – 2,680,395 scholarly articles were published internationally by Chinese authors, 35% of which have never been cited, and the average citation per publication is 6.17 versus 20.45 for an American author. 95% of its most important research “are now published by foreign commercial publisher and locked behind pay-walls” (p. 397).  Most scholars do not have the English proficiency, there are not enough translators and therefore the research remains trapped in Chinese repository systems.  The article is a fascinating glimpse into the profundity of linguistic barriers, cultural and ideological differences in writing, research and performance metrics that are seldom if ever mentioned in the jubilant digital scholarship literature.


As a fairly recent migrant from the world of commerce and industry to the world of education, one of the other articles I read was cause for inner ironical chuckling. Interdisciplinary. What does that mean? That you stay in your academic ivory tower but build bridges to other towers in the same academic village, or even across the pond to another tower where there are English speakers? And you interact only with the grubby world of business when they sell you OLP (online learning platforms) and data analytic systems and student interfaces and lesson plans and databases. But do you consider that you may be able to learn from that world? Even within business schools, the frenetic search for pertinent case studies is to inform and guide practise by current or potential business people.  And so I turn to Siemens and Burr (2013) – who I must say I have a huge amount for respect for, because they are talking, reading about and DOING  research in international research teams. They are grappling with linguistic and cultural barriers. And I read their article and the whole time I’m thinking – you’ve got to be kidding me. Yes, you’re probably breaking new ground in your context, but global companies have been doing this for decades. For eons. Your average wet-nosed graduate in a developing country working for a multi-national could have told you of all these challenges AND how they’re resolved in commerce and industry. I have to wonder, when a paper cites Hofstede – 1980 * if they’ve read and understood it’s context (Shell oil company), why they don’t think – heck – those multinational companies must know a thing or two about this – let’s go and ask them how to resolve this rather than us having to reinvent the wheel. Just pop over to your local business school or track down a travelling salesman with a passport to find out more.

I realise I’ve nearly written 1,500 words right now, and I don’t even begin to cover all the ground that I’d want to cover but can’t. I’ll just end by referring back to Gee and Hayes (2011). The first six chapters are a great read to understand the context of current education, language and literacy as part of a continuum of education across the ages – and they can express this background so much better than my amateur fumblings.  And after giving a context what is the future?  It would have to be in machine translation. In non-affiliation to a single academic organisation or nation. The return of the professional amateur, of “royal societies” that are not royal or national.  Different pathways of legitimisation and accreditation. More cooperation and collaboration but also more confrontation. Assignments that are conceptually bound but content liberated.  Radically open access to both published and rejected research, with commentary as to the rejection – a bit of meta-cognition anyone? Access to assignments with grading. Plagiarism is only an option in a closed rigid system with unimaginative content related assignments.  And those do nothing to further scholarship, digital or otherwise.

(And apologies to all those authors and researchers who are not cited but who are informing my thinking, but were not read in the last few days).


Gee, J. P., & Hayes, E. (2011). Language and learning in the digital age (1st ed). New York, NY: Routledge.
Ren, X., & Montgomery, L. (2015). Open access and soft power: Chinese voices in international scholarship. Media, Culture & Society, 37(3), 394–408. http://doi.org/10.1177/0163443714567019
Siemens, L., & Burr, E. (2013). A trip around the world: Accommodating geographical, linguistic and cultural diversity in academic research teams. Literary and Linguistic Computing, 28(2), 331–343. http://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqs018

(* As a side note, Hofstede was taught to me as an expat 101 in the early 1990’s before my husband and I left on our first international assignment in Brazil. There is an updated version of his book – co-written by his son and Michael Minkov. Should be read by every ‘global’ educator and student interested in global collaboration and cooperation :

Hofstede, G. H., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: software of the mind: intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival (3rd ed). New York: McGraw-Hill.)


The right to write

One of the most difficult aspects of my last assignment on multicultural and diverse literature (MCD) was coming to grips with the extent to which all literature, including MCD literature is dominated by white and/or western based authors.  When I have more headspace I’d like to write an article on what kind of criteria one could apply to assess the legitimacy of authors to tackle MCD themes – aka “the right to write”. It would be a set of guidelines that librarians and even teachers and students could use to critically look at existing literature and to use when deciding what books should be purchased and/or included in curricula activities.

My thoughts so far are around:

  • origin of author or illustrator – birth and residency
  • whether they are cultural / religious insider by residency / descent / marriage
  • time spent living in the region / culture
  • language – I think this is HUGE – language=culture – as a parent of a child who we put in chinese language immersion school at a young age her access to the language = access to the culture and she is no longer as western culturally assimilated as she was before. I’m thinking of Pearl Buck now as well – she is revered in China as someone with a “chinese soul” whereas I don’t think that is given to many other ‘touristic’ writers.
  • Role as gatekeeper or guide – I do think that authors could spend more time in nurturing talent and “passing the baton” rather than blocking the way – there is the balance between accessibility for the western sensibilities – it can’t be too unfamiliar, uncomfortable (I’m even thinking of how my students found Bleakboy “weird” and that’s just Aussie vs. their usual diet of UK / USA – but fortunately they didn’t reject it) but it needs to be authentic – particularly the inner dialogue – we can’t impose western sensibilities about gender rights, individual rights on a collectivist society – my Chinese / Asian friends do not rebel against the fact that their parents chose their study direction, university and career (and sometimes husband) for them, because the assumption is that the parent knows best and has their best interest at heart – not all the stuff we project onto the situation.

Yes, there are the gaps and I agree without the filling by Deborah Ellis etal, our students wouldn’t have the awareness at all – but we’re 10-20-30-60 years on in the case of some issues and STILL the middle class white people are writing and being published. Why? And whose lives are richer / poorer as a result of these works.

Just my random thoughts this morning.  Any comments?


Does academic equity even exist?

I’ve just finished reading through Yvette Slaughter’s PhD thesis: The study of Asian languages in two Australian states: considerations for language-in-education policy and planning and what an eye-opener it was. And not for the reasons I thought it would be.

I’m really interested in language-learning ecology/(ies) and since hers mentioned this, I decided to take the plunge and wade through the 372 pages. And what I found was rather interesting. Aside from all the detailed analysis, the most interesting chapter was on  “Is Asian Language Study Equitable” – she has written a paper on it, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be easily accessible (i). (Just tried to find her on twitter to see where I can get a copy…)…. read more



Deep research Diving

I’m going to either become very quiet or very noisy in the next few weeks as I dive into my next research topic for my last (yikes, how fast did that go) assignment for INF530.

This is my research proposal:


1. Proposal Topic
Language learning and the new digital information ecology
2. Proposed digital tools and/or spaces to be used
This is a tool I’ve wanted to experiment with for a while, and I think it can be used to encompass all the multi-media affordances required for this essay. Eventually I’d like to expand on it and turn it into a resource for our students, educators and families.
3. Rationale
Previous research has indicated that successful language acquisition is the result of the combination of optimising factors relating to the child (student), family, school and community. These can be considered to operate in inter-relationships in a knowledge ecology.
The affordances of digital technology in education combined with global connectedness allow unprecendented opportunities to leverage the connected learning principles of
  • production centered
  • openly networked
  • shared purpose
within language learning, however the current structures of education may ignore or limit these opportunities due to institutional (or familial) fear, ignorance or perceived loss of control.
This essay will look at the work of Seely, Hatie, Bawden, Ng, Siemans, Downes, Ford, Perrault etal. to examine learning design and the information environment and discuss how the learning systems and constituents allow for zones of intervention within the language learning ecology to leverage learning – sychronous and asynchronous, local and global and allow students and their families a greater locus of control over language learning.
A particular focus will be mother tongue learning, an area often neglected by schools, who state they unable to justify supporting a large number of minority languages formally. I will argue this may be the result a failure of imagination and the application of digital technology and collaborative learning rather than a lack of resources.


Read more: …..


Assessment Item 6: Digital Storytelling Topic Proposal

“Knowledge, then, is experiences and stories, and intelligence is the apt use of experience, and the creation and telling of stories. Memory is memory for stories, and the major processes of memory are the creation, storage, and retrieval of stories.”(Schank & Abelson, 1995, p. 8)

red dragon

Red Dragon Wallpaper Download. (2011)

Proposal Topic:

“追龍 – Chasing the Dragon*
a family’s story of language and identity”

From 2006 to 2011 our family was engaged in learning Chinese in one form or another including language classes, attending a bilingual immersion school and following a university degree – with nearly devastating consequences for one child. This digital story weaves together extracts from blog entries written at the time, digital photos and videos, images of school books and writing and interviews as each child and the family grappled and came to terms with who they were and how language shaped that identity.

Proposed digital tools and/or spaces to be used:

iMovie, Blogger, twitter, facebook, digital photos and videos, memorabilia

Rationale for topic focus

In Asia, particularly Hong Kong, where parenting is a competitive sport, giving your children the opportunity to learn Chinese has become the holy grail of expatriate parenting. Children are enrolled in language programs and immersion schools without much understanding or consideration of the possible consequences.

Research is scant and evidence, mainly anecdotal, focuses on the positive success stories.  A climate of shame, and fear of it reflecting badly on the parent, prevents openness when children do not succeed.

Our family’s story of “chasing the dragon” is one of success, failure and ultimate triumph. In this project, I hope to use storytelling as a way of making sense of events and experiences and communicating this (Botturi, Bramani, & Corbino, 2012) to others in a similar situation.

The affordance of digital storytelling is to incorporate multi semiotic systems that ‘allow for the linking and integration of cognitive, tacit, affective, cultural, personal, graphic and photographic ways of exploring, articulating, expressing and representing sense-making about learning and identity’ (Williams, 2009, cited in Walker, Jameson, & Ryan, 2010, p. 219). It is a warning story and also a story of hope.

Finally, I am considering putting in a proposal to present at a conference on language next year. I would like to use this story as the basis of adding context to academic theory on mother-tongue, language learning and identity so that educators and parents alike not only have an intellectual understanding of the theories but an emotional response through this story to the platitude that “every child is unique”.



* “chasing the dragon” is a Hong Kong slang term referring to inhaling opium vapour – the metaphorical meaning includes the elusive pursuit of an ultimate high.  For the purposes of this story it’s the elusive pursuit of mastering the Chinese language.



Botturi, L., Bramani, C., & Corbino, S. (2012). Finding Your Voice Through Digital Storytelling. TechTrends, 56(3), 10–11. doi:10.1007/s11528-012-0569-1

Red Dragon Wallpaper Download. (2011). Retrieved September 14, 2014, from http://www.wallpaperhere.com/Red_Dragon_81049/download_1920x1440

Schank, R. C., & Abelson, R. P. (1995). Knowledge and Memory:  The Real Story. In R. S. Wyer (Ed.), Knowledge and Memory: The Real Story (Vol. VIII, pp. 1–85). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved from http://cogprints.org/636/1/KnowledgeMemory_SchankAbelson_d.html

Walker, S., Jameson, J., & Ryan, M. (2010). Skills and strategies for e-learning in a participatory culture (Ch. 15). In R. Sharpe, H. Beetham, & S. Freitas (Eds.), Rethinking learning for a digital age: How learners are shaping their own experiences (pp. 212–224). New York, NY: Routledge.