The purpose of this paper is to examine whether there is a cultural gap in student perceptions of online collaborative learning and to investigate to what extent student perceptions, motivation, and learning strategies change over time due to the actual involvement in a collaborative e‐learning environment (ELE).
A parallel e‐learning environment for a first‐year university course is implemented for a Flemish group (n = 217) at Ghent University and a Chinese group (n = 165) at Beijing Normal University. Student perceptions of the online collaborative learning environment and their motivation and learning strategies before and after the ELE are measured.
The findings show that the Flemish group perceive the online collaborative learning environment more positively compared to the Chinese group. However, Chinese students' motivation, and learning strategies change significantly towards a way that is more in line with a social‐constructivist learning approach after the online collaborative learning experience.
The current results indicate that students from different cultural contexts perceive online collaborative learning environments differently. Specific cultural adaptations in e‐learning design could be considered when an ELE is to be implemented cross‐culturally.
This study can help both Chinese and Western instructors to become aware of different perceptions of online collaborative learning and to be more supportive to the students.