5 Best Practices For Producing eLearning For Global Audiences

eLearning For Global Audiences

Instructional Designers and eLearning scriptwriters will always be challenged with the daunting nature of the blank page. Granted, no custom/bespoke project is ever easy; especially when attempting to engage cynical audiences that are often resistant to training of any kind. But when tasked with creating off-the-shelf eLearning for global audiences, i.e. content which is both industry and job role agnostic, Instructional Designers face a formidable test that requires a much different approach.

The entertainment industry has been a great teacher for our eLearning industry in providing a blueprint for engaging global audiences. In my 17 years in eLearning with much of that time focused on compliance training designed to change behavior, my eLearning teams have always borrowed from entertainment’s effectiveness in reaching audiences worldwide.

If you are creating eLearning for global audiences, here are 5  best practices to keep in mind.

1. Think Universal 

Storytelling is far and away the most effective teaching tool that eLearning designers have at their disposal. Great stories effectively connect with global audiences regardless of a person’s cultural background, geography, industry, or job role. Well written stories tap into universal truths that are highly relatable. Hollywood screenwriters, many which we have employed over the years, understand the fundamental nature of the human experience. Consequently, they use storytelling devices to deeply engage audiences for extended periods of time. Do you want to break through the noise, maintain attention, and foster memorability? Then, look for opportunities to take a universal approach to reach the widest possible audience.

2. Cast A Wide Net

When thinking globally, eLearning authors should try to steer clear of being too specific in their learning experiences. Specificity may be successful in resonating with certain audiences. However, it may do so at the expense of reaching a much larger audience that may feel alienated or disconnected to the content you are presenting. This is why you need to introduce diverse characters and broad storylines that are relatable in regions around the world. For global general audience courses, avoid introducing situations and environments that narrow cast any given geography, industry, or job role. Think one world... every man, every woman.

3. Be Culturally Aware

It is often surprising to me that Instructional Designers and eLearning producers don't spend more time educating themselves on how cultures around the world think and feel. I have been fortunate to travel around the globe and have been exposed to a variety of different cultural mindsets. Every culture is unique, but shares commonalities that are often overlooked. As an example, rule based ethics and compliance training produced in the United States by Americans is often perceived as being US centric in other parts of the world. If you are going to produce eLearning for global audiences, it's important to bring global cultural awareness into your thinking. If you are too centric towards the country or region you live, you are likely to be ineffective in creating content that has worldly appeal. Therefore, take a deeper interest in global perspectives to broaden your content for international appeal.

4. Be Generationally Conscious

Equally surprising is the narrow generational lens in which Instructional Designers will use to craft content. Often times, eLearning (or any communication) fails to consider the different generational perspectives and how communication is broadly perceived. The importance of generational perception is heightened when dealing with global audiences across geography and industry. Understanding generational profiles can be an enlightening experience to broaden your perspective that informs the content that you are creating. It doesn't matter whether you are a Millennial trying to reach Baby Boomers or a Gen X trying to reach Generation Zs entering the workforce. Instructional Designers that fail to create universal content that resonates with all people regardless of generation, do so at their own peril. This is why you need to take a step back and think about how your content will be received from a generational standpoint.

5. Love Everyone

Last but not least, and maybe most important, love your audience. If you don't love them, they simply won't love your training experience. This requires that eLearning designers come from a place of empathy that informs the scripts you write and the courses that you produce. Love and empathy, especially from a global perspective, will go a long way to delivering a successful eLearning course that resonates with audiences around the world.

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