Our world is one that’s almost entirely impacted by globalization, particularly in terms of business and corporate organizations.

Many companies have employees not just across the country, but across the globe, so how do you tackle the challenge of providing training and development that speaks to a diverse international audience?

Effectively Designing eLearning for a Global Audience

eLearning provides the perfect opportunity to easily and seamlessly train employees on a global scale, and when you’re creating coursework, consider the following tips:

  1. The first thing to think about when developing global eLearning content is your use of language. Even though you may not be the one doing the translating, you have to consider how your use of idioms or localized phrases is going to impact translation. The best thing you can do to avoid potential stumbling blocks in the writing of your eLearning is to keep language simple, concise and to-the-point. The more creative you try to get with your wording, the more likely your global audience is going to have difficulty understanding it. Not only does keeping language simple and concise help on a global front, but it also tends to be the best approach to ensure your eLearning content is engaging and effective. Even if your content doesn’t have to be translated, you should still avoid using idioms or other language components that may be unclear or difficult to understand for a non-native English speaker.
  2. The culture you’re creating content for is going to play a role in how people learn, so this is something to be kept in mind. For example, some Asian countries tend to value individual achievement and linear learning styles more than styles frequently seen in America, like collaborative learning and role playing. A good way to keep your eLearning appropriate for a range of audiences is to provide different options for the learners. For example, you can let the learner choose from simply studying information and then taking part in an assessment through a multiple choice quiz, or using a simulation to explore different possible outcomes and then engaging in an open-ended assessment.
  3. Videos tend to be a good tool for cross-cultural learning, particularly if you’re teaching a certain skill, like how to use a type of software or machinery. Using videos can take some of the cultural barriers out the equation, and keep it black and white. In fact, videos can be more useful in international eLearning than simply using images, because images may not translate on a global scale.
  4. As we frequently discuss, making eLearning relevant to the individual learner is important, and relevancy is something to pay attention to in the design of global eLearning content. You may have to consider how you can make videos, scenarios and simulations appeal to a broad cross-cultural audience, because the learner will take more value from content when they see it as something they can relate to on a personal level, or feel as if they’re represented in content.
  5. Focus on the details. When developing eLearning content for a global audience, the little things are extremely important—for example how the date and time are displayed, or the colors and fonts used. Before creating your content, explore how these differences are relevant to the audience you’re writing for.
  6. In order to ensure consistency, it may be a good idea to work on creating a style guide for each culture or region in which you’ll be disseminating your eLearning. This is a good way to be sure everyone is getting the same information in a way that is going to be easily comprehended, based on their language, location and culture. Once an initial style guide is created, it’s then easy to continue building on your eLearning using these measures of consistency.

Undoubtedly, creating eLearning for a global audience is more complex and more time-consuming than creating it for a relatively homogeneous audience, but the payoff can be significant. By taking the initial time to understand how content is going to be received based on language and cultural differences, organizational leaders are increasing the chances of having their content be effective and meaningful, as well as consistent.

Photo credit: Flickr/jurtvetson