5 Top Tips To Create Effective Global eLearning
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How To Create Effective Global eLearning

Whether it’s an office in Milan, a coffee shop in New York, or someone’s kitchen table in Cape Town, many companies have offices, remote-workers, and operations all over the world.

Every single one of the employees who works in these locations needs some form of formal training to perform well in their role. Τhe question is: how do you consistently train employees spread out around the world? Their contexts, languages, and cultural outlooks are diverse and create a uniquely challenging task.

The answer to this question is, of course, complex and multi-faceted, so today I’m focusing on a single aspect - how to create an effective global eLearning and blended solution.

1. Research The Target Audience

Team members operating on a global scale have varying levels of experience, knowledge, and expertise. However, we also know that they’re likely to have a few things in common.

Job roles around the world share key capabilities form the foundation of the role sales roles require selling skills, managers require leadership skills, and so on.

We also know that every learner undertaking an eLearning or blended course wants to gain skills to get better at their job so that they can succeed and progress in their career.

Researching the target audience involves identifying shared attributes and needs. This enables you to identify the core learning goals. Analysing differences will enable you to identify how the solution can be localized for maximum relevance in different countries. This research would need to be done in partnership with your client, whether they are internal or external.

For example, a company has introduced new software—called SalesNado!—to support their sales employees. They conducted a successful trial in Fictionstonia and now want to roll it out around the world. In this instance, one common need is that all Sales employees will need to know how to use the new software, and will need to be able to perform basic transactions. The old sales software was also particularly popular in Fantaysia and developed a cult following, so you would need to localize the solution to include sufficient motivation and support within that country.

2. Use Module Variants

If you create one master version of your eLearning/blended solution, you can then create localized ‘variants’ for each region or country. This saves you from the problems that you would face by allowing separate countries to create their own, in-house solution (consistency, accuracy, quality, time, expense etc.).

By using variants, you can condense a month’s worth of work into a week, meaning that when it comes to creating a new variant for a new language and country, only small changes to text and graphics need to be made to allow for localization.

For example, you create a global solution for sales employees to use SalesNado! and have a localized version made for Fantaysia which has a larger emphasis on motivating employees to use the new software.

 3. A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words

Relevant imagery is a powerful tool that should be wielded frequently. When used well, images, in addition to words, enhance comprehension[1] and can clarify the subject matter that can be lost in translation.

For example, as part of the internal marketing campaign to raise awareness and interest in the new training, the company has come up with the slogan “Come alive with SalesNado!” along with a graphic that included a gravestone in the background; pretty good, right? Wrong! When they translate their message into Fantaysian it read as “SalesNado! brings your ancestors back from the grave”. Needless to say, there were a lot of disappointed Fantaysian Sales employees when they found that SalesNado! didn’t have life-restoring powers. All of this could have been cleared up with clear and relevant imagery – as well as having the translation checked (more on this later)!

When coupled with text, relevant imagery can ensure that your message is never lost in translation; whether you need to convey an important health and safety message or highlight a useful shortcut in the SalesNado! software, images can be more powerful.

4. Be Aware Of The Culturally Sensitive Content

Make sure that you have reviewers from each of the relevant countries to check the solution. This will help you avoid embarrassing or offensive misunderstandings through translation errors or imagery.

For example, during the review stage of the SalesNado! solution in Fantaysia, an image used in the module was found to resemble the logo of an alt-right extremist group linked with multiple incidents of discrimination, assault, and hate crimes. Fortunately, this was spotted ahead of time and the image was changed.

It’s best to avoid the problems that come from inadvertently offensive images or translations.

5. Choose Translatable LMS And eLearning Modules

Hopefully, you’ll think this is an obvious point: learners must be able to complete training in their mother tongue or at least a language in which they are fluent or almost fluent.

There are few things that will shipwreck a learning solution as quickly and as effectively as learners being unable to understand the language. Translation costs need to be taken into account right at the start of the project. If you don’t, there’s a very real possibility that you’ll run out of budget, leaving the project dead in the water.

Ideally, you want an LMS and authoring tool that can quickly and effectively translate content. An end-to-end solution that can translate entire eLearning modules and resources should be a priority for International companies.

For example, after translating the SalesNado! solution into 2 languages, the budget is used up. This delays rollout of the software and the eLearning solution in 10 countries until the next financial year, creating a major headache for the IT division, who have to handle parallel use of the old and the new software. It also results in the in the loss of the gains that would have been made by rolling it out sooner, effectively costing the company time and money.

As I mentioned earlier, designing, developing, and implementing global learning across multiple countries is a major challenge that cannot be fully dealt with in a single post. However, if you keep these 5 principles in mind, you’ll find that the process of creating an effective global eLearning and blended solution will run much more smoothly.

Reference: 

  1. E-Learning and the Science of Instruction’, R. Colvin Clark, R. E. Mayer, 2011
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